‘Tis the season where many businesses in town are offering gift card specials: “Spend $20 and get a gift card with $25 on it” or “Buy a $50 gift card and receive a free meal”, etc. If you had the money, you could load up on a year’s worth of meals and save yourself a bundle.

But it’s not only the individuals that are impacted by the gift card frenzy. The big companies are making a fortune off the money that people pre-pay them for the cards. In 2016, Starbucks had $1.2 billion loaded onto their cards – just think of the interest they gain off of that.

Reframe your view of gift cards this holiday season and come to think of them as giving the store a free loan of your money. They may incentivize you to do it but it’s not out of benevolent generosity; rather it’s a business decision where they are the ones getting the gift.

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