Best time to use holiday gift cards
Get the most value from the cards you received by waiting until the items you want are at their lowest prices. Here's when to look for sales.
This post comes from Emily Dovi at Dealnews.
But depending on what you're looking for, you might get the most value out of your card if you wait to shop. From consumer electronics to apparel, to MP3s and beyond, we've combed the Dealnews archives to offer the best time frames in which to spend your holiday gift cards.
Best time to buy: Late December and early January.
Potential discount: Up to 50% off.
While the typical Black Friday onslaught of all-time low HDTV prices is long gone, we will soon see steep discounts on brand-name HDTVs, which are usually absent during the post-Thanksgiving shopping holiday. So far we've seen 42-inch and 47-inch LCD and plasma HDTVs from LG at all-time lows available at the likes of Amazon, Newegg, and TigerDirect, but many more are sure to follow, if you patiently wait for a deal.
TV prices generally continue their slow decline through the year and bottom out in the summer before Black Friday slashes them again even further.
Best time to buy: January and February.
Potential discount: 15% to 60% off.
January is also a good time to look into fitness equipment. A popular New Year's resolution is to get in shape, and both gyms and fitness gear manufacturers aim to lure shoppers into using their services or products to accomplish this goal. As a result, we saw several special coupons and sales online for equipment, including bikes, treadmills, elliptical trainers, complete home gyms, and training accessories and DVDs.
Best time to buy: January to April.
Potential discount: Up to 30% off.
Last January saw the highest number of Editors' Choice vacation packages of any month, which means several flight and hotel combo deals were at their lowest price of the year. Top destinations included Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.
Just note that many of these prices are for March and early April travel, the latter of which is a great time to book cruises. Look to Carnival Cruise Lines for the best deals. If your gift card is for airfare travel exclusively, remember that the best time to book a cheap flight is six weeks in advance.
Best time to buy: Late January and February.
Potential discount: Up to 80% off with stacking coupons.
Winter apparel saw excellent discounts immediately after Christmas, especially if you don't mind redeeming a printable coupon in-store. But judging from the offers we saw on Dec. 26 last year, several of those sales will become even better in January. For example, Old Navy took an additional 15% off sale and clearance items in early January last year. But just two weeks later we saw an additional 50% off clearance items, making for an Editors' Choice deal.
Best time to buy: February.
Potential discount: 20% to 60% off.
In January numerous manufacturers will announce new products at the Consumer Electronics Show, which means retailers will begin trying to move old inventory to make room for new releases. Tablets, MP3 players, and gadgets like GPS units will thus start to see clearance price cuts. But, if it's specifically a new digital camera you're after, keep in mind that November sees more than twice as many Editors' Choice-caliber camera deals as any other month.
Best time to buy: February and March.
Potential discount: Up to 75% off.
While we'll see a number of "white sales" in January, bedding and linens will see deeper discounts come Presidents Day courtesy of sitewide discounts at various department stores, with discounts of up to 75% off bedding and furniture. Make note, though, that office furniture specifically will actually see more Editors' Choice deals in April and May.
Best time to buy: Late February and March.
Potential discount: Up to 50% off.
Valentine's Day is the next buying holiday on the horizon, but it's rare to find any outstanding jewelry deals in the weeks immediately preceding. That said, LivingSocial and other daily deals sites may offer credits to BlueNile and other jewelry merchants at up to 50% off in the coming weeks. Securing that added value will pay off even more beginning Feb. 15 and throughout March, as the best time to buy jewelry is between Valentine's Day and Mother's Day in May.
Best time to buy: August.
Potential discount: Up to 50% off.
Typically the best time to get a laptop is around Black Friday, but you might not want to wait another 11 months to use your gift card. The next closest opportunity when we see notebook prices consistently sink to impressive lows occurs over the summer, specifically in the form of back-to-school sales in August.
Best time to buy: Varies.
Potential discount: 70% to 90% off.
Amazon's monthly $5 album sale brings with it the best of the bargain bin. From pop favorites like Lady Gaga to well-known indie darlings like Arcade Fire, you can load up every gig on that iPod. However, periodically throughout the year, the mega store will offer a sale that discounts such albums to as low as $1 to $3. ITunes can be a little bit more difficult to predict as far as music sales go, because they don't openly advertise markdowns.
More on Dealnews and MSN Money:
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by SIX Financial Information.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Children from lower income families are at greater risk of suffering accidental injuries and being sickened by food, according to a Consumer Federation of America study.