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sep 06

Get discounted travel by buying gift cards

American Airlines gift cards for sale at a 6 percent discount. (GiftCardGranny)

Did you know you can buy secondhand gift cards to enjoy discounts on plane tickets and hotel reservations?

More than $20 billion worth of gift cards are expected to be given this year in the US for Christmas, Hanukkah, and other celebrations. Some people will even give the gift of travel with cards good toward purchases from airlines, online travel agencies, and hotel chains.

Case in point: You could buy a $50 gift card from Travelocity and give it to a traveler you love. But your gift recipient might not have any trips coming up any time soon, and they might be afraid they'll lose or forget about their gift cards before their expiration date. So these travelers who don't want their cards auction them or trade them off on auction sites like eBay, GiftCardGranny, CardAvenue, and similar auction sites.

Exhibit A: Earlier this evening, someone was auctioning off on eBay a $100 Travelocity gift card, with a starting bid of $65. If you snagged it at that price, you'd be saving 35 percent off the face value, and you could apply the card's balance toward the cost of any upcoming purchase.

While that example is great, I've typically found more modest savings of about 5 or 6 percent once bidding takes place.

Finding these gift card deals is easy. Sign up for e-mail alerts from GiftCardGranny.com, a site that consolidates gift card auction sales on eBay and other sites. The site will alert you when a gift card relevant to your preferred airline becomes available. ("New gift card available from American Airlines. Click over for details.")

A search on GiftCardGranny this evening turned up dozen cards from American Airlines for sale. But inventory varies by the day.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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