Gift Card Handling Best Practices
This morning I wrote about the latest negative cost Officemax manufactured spend bonanza. Not only can you currently purchase cards at below cost, but the register isn’t enforcing the limit of 2! Hopefully you are able to find a ton of cards, but stock tends to run out pretty quickly.
Whether it is deals like the Officemax one or an Amex Offer where I buy a ton of gift cards to get credit, I am always dealing with cards. A ton of them! After learning the hard way over the years, I have developed a system that helps to keep everything organized. My goal is maximum organization with the least amount of work. Since I know many of you are in the same situation, I thought I would share a few best practices I try to follow.
Visa & Mastercard Gift Cards
The best thing to do with Visa & Mastercard gift cards is probably to liquidate them right away. Of course that isn’t always possible, so the next best thing is to get organized. A spreadsheet will help you do that. You can go as far as logging all of the card serial numbers or you can batch them together for ease. (My recommended approach.)
For example, on a day like today when I have purchased the same types of cards from various locations, I will combine all of the cards into one batch along with all of the receipts. This simplifies things for me. By batching them, I can verify I have all of the cards purchased that day while the information is fresh in my mind. I also ALWAYS verify the serial numbers all match the receipt. Once the cards are in a batch, the batch is logged and all of the cards and purchase receipts are stored together. Another day, another batch.
Merchant Gift Cards
For merchant gift cards I tend to record every single card number. Since I tend to sell most of these cards, I need this information anyway, so it is good to have down on a spreadsheet. Generally I track the numbers, the value and where I purchased the card(s) so I can easily go back through purchases if a problem arises. When I send them off or sell them, I track the information in the same spreadsheet so I know they aren’t in my inventory anymore.
Tracking cards in this way is important. First, I sell a lot of electronic cards. For that reason I need to make sure I don’t sell the same card twice. That would be a disaster. By tracking all of these cards both coming and going, I eliminate most issues. Also, when I mail physical cards I take photos of them just in case anything were to go wrong.
Storing & Tracking Cards
I’m sure everyone has a system for how they store cards. No matter what you decide to do, staying organized is a key. You should know how much ($$) worth of cards you are storing. Once again a spreadsheet works for that. For example, if I have 3 batches of Visa cards, then I will record the total values of each batch. Since those cards are liquidated and disposed of, I don’t feel I need to log the actual individual card numbers. With merchant cards I tend to batch them according to merchant, but as I said before all card numbers are tracked.
Stay Within Your Comfort Zone
Just because there is an amazing deal and you can buy $10,000 in gift cards doesn’t mean you have to or should. Stay within your comfort zone for both float and liquidation. If you are only comfortable floating & liquidating $600 then only buy $600. Once you go beyond where you are comfortable, bad things tend to happen. You might find that as you become more experienced that your threshold increases. In fact I can almost guarantee it will.
I have only shared the very basics of what I do, because I feel everyone will find their own system. The one thing I urge you to do if you are new is to find a system and use it. It is VERY EASY to lose track of cards and thus to lose track of money. You might think you are on top of everything, but when you are dealing with thousands of dollars spread over dozens (or more) of cards, things can easily get mixed up.
Hopefully many of you were able to pick up some cards today. Since I know I don’t hold all of the answers, I thought it would be a great idea to open this up for discussion. What organization techniques do you use? Which practices have been helpful to you in tracking and which ones haven’t? Let us all know in the comments!