7 On Your Side has advice for working the gift card system

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- More than 60 percent of us hope to receive a gift card as a present this holiday season. 7 On Your Side says there is a good chance that wish will come true.

We will be getting and giving more than $30 billion worth of gift cards this holiday season. Nearly half of us plan to give them, so how do you best work the gift card system?

Shelley Hunter, the Gift Card Girlfriend, works with the website Giftcards.com and says this is an especially good year to be giving gift cards.

"Many stores and restaurants are going to be offering free gift cards when you purchase a gift card," she says. "And if you are planning on buying a gift card, ask, if it doesn't say so, but most often there will be some sort of deal available."

VIDEO: Advice, warnings about gift cards

That's the good news, but there are catches.

First, the free gift cards don't work the same way as the ones you buy.

"What people need to remember about these free gift cards is that those can have an expiration date on them, so be sure the deal works for you and then read the small print on the card so you make sure you get to use it," Hunter says.

Second, some of the cards can't even be used until next year.

"A lot of these promotional gift cards are strategically not usable until January. It is a way for the merchants to bring people back into their store," she says.

Finally, even though the majority of us want gift cards, that doesn't mean we all do.

Rachel Banks was out shopping when 7 On Your Side spoke to her. "Giving him a gift of shopping is not giving him a gift at all," she says.

You can also buy gift cards second hand at a discount on websites like Giftcards.com and Gift Card Granny.
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