• Shop on a Tuesday because it's the slowest shopping day of the week.
• When it comes to gift cards, be wary of expiration dates, especially after activation.
• Since the economy is still rough, be aware of stores that might go belly up.
• A safe bet is an American Express or Visa gift card, which can be used anywhere. But these cards generally have a "valid through" date that's printed on the card. After that date you will have to call the issuer of the card and request a replacement. This might work.
• There are also fees. Credit issuer gift cards often charge monthly maintenance fees after a year of activity.
• You can sell us your unused gift cards but be very careful. Donating your gift cards with small balances (or unused cards) to a church or organization is one way to get the most from your cards.
$41 billion has been lost or is likely to go unspent in cards issued from 2005 to date, according to The Wall Street Journal, don’t add to total.