Categories: Travel Hacking

Travel Hacking with Gift Cards

Almost everyone knows about earning points and miles to save money on traveling. But there are many other tips and tricks that can save you a few bucks when booking travel.

One of the tricks you may not have tried is using discounted gift cards to save money on hotels, rental cars and flights. It’s not extremely commonplace but there are a few ways to plan ahead and get a discount on your vacation.

You can purchase discounted gift cards online on several websites. Here are a few sources I have found that seem the most trustworthy. Definitely do your homework and only shop on sites that offer a guarantee that the cards can be used.

I’ll introduce you to a few of the best sites to purchase discounted gift cards, then offer a summary list of the best deals by travel brand like Airbnb, Southwest Airlines and

Are you familiar with Swagbucks? I think it is an excellent resource for discounts and travel hacking, you can read more about it here.

Swagbucks has a sister site called which sells gift cards and pays you Swagbucks points for each one you purchase, effectively giving you a discount on the card.

Sign up for a Swagbucks account, and click over Check their Travel category for the latest deals that might work with your travel plans. For example, the gift cards earn 5 SB per dollar – or a 5% discount. Purchase a $100 gift card and get 500 Swagbucks which is equal to $5. You can redeem the SB points for gift cards like Amazon and Walmart, or accumulate 2500 SB and deposit the money into your Paypal account. Read more here.

MyGiftCardsPlus also sells cards from Airbnb and Uber. These are ideal for those who enjoy the sharing economy. Get 3 SB per dollar for the Airbnb cards and 1 SB per dollar for Uber. Then add the gift card balance to your Airbnb or Uber account and spend while on the road. You just saved 1-3% on your ride or stay. It may not seem like much but it does add up!

Buy discounted gift cards at This site guarantees the validity of the gift cards for one year, making it a trustworthy site to purchase cards. Haven’t used before? Sign up with this link and get a credit for $5!

They have a wide variety of cards but the travel category is of the most interest to this article.

An advantage over sites like, Raise doesn’t make you play games with earning points – they just offer the cards at a discount. Cards are procured from sellers so the discount percentages and availability may vary.

You might find Airbnb gift cards for 3-4% off and Uber credits for 2% off. Best of all they have gift cards for 6.5% off. This is an excellent deal. Combine this with the free nights loyalty program and maximize your savings. also has Southwest Airlines gift cards available at up to a 4% discount.

Do you enjoy cruises? You can purchase Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise credits for up to 10% off and use them to receive discounts on your cruise bookings. Be sure to read the fine print, as cruise reservations can sometimes be complicated. But it’s probably worth the effort! As you know, cruises can be pricey depending on the destination and duration they might cost many thousands of dollars. A ten percent discount is not shabby at all.

Sign up for here and get $5 credit!

I always suggest purchasing these discounted gift cards with a cash back credit card or your favorite miles or points card. I prefer cash back, you can read more about that here if you like.


The Cardpool website looks almost exactly like the site, and that’s because they are both owned by BlackHawk Network. They offer excellent discounts on travel gift cards and other gift cards and offer a one year guarantee on the gift cards they sell.

You can find Airbnb cards for up to 4% off, American Airlines cards for up to 4.7% off and Best Western gift cards for 4.2% discount.

Planning a road trip? Check Cardpool for discounted gas cards at Arco for a 2% discount on fueling up.

Sign up here for Cardpool and get $5 off your first gift card purchase.

Gift Card Mall

Another site that buys and sells gift cards is

They have a wide variety of cards, and in the travel category you may find discounted gift cards for Southwest Airlines, Airbnb and  The supply of cards depends on what sellers have available, so check back if the card you want is out of stock. They usually have full priced gift cards available for sale if you don’t see any discounted cards.

You’ll also find gift cards for casinos and Disney properties, so take a look and see what strikes your fancy.

The Best Travel Gift Card Deals

Here are some of the most popular travel brands and their current discount gift card deals.


Airbnb introduced gift cards in 2015. You add the gift card to your credit balance in your account. Be sure to check the fine print before purchasing a gift card, as there are restrictions. For example, you cannot use gift card credit to book stays of 28+ days. I frequently book month long Airbnbs as there are often discounts to be had for stays of 28 days so I am not happy about this exception. If your stays are usually short in duration the discounted cards are an excellent way to save on your accommodations.

The discounted gift cards can be stacked with other deals like Ebates or Swagbucks to get amazing savings on your hotel accommodations. Again, be sure to read the fine print and rules. All hotels don’t accept the gift cards, you have to be able to pay in advance for your stay on the site to use a card. Most hotels will accept the pre-payment but some will not, so be sure to check. Here are a few places you can look for deals on these gift cards.

Southwest Airlines

You can use Southwest Airlines gift cards when booking travel online, on the phone or in person at a ticket counter. The credit doesn’t expire and can be used for any destination. Keep in mind that you can only use 2 or 3 gift cards per transaction and some sites have a limit of how many you can purchase per month. Be sure to read the fine print.

Another way to save money and have some fun on Southwest is to buy discounted drink tickets. These are given as rewards and people might not use them so they’ll sell theirs. You can find them on eBay.


Uber is a fast growing transportation option used around the globe. Purchase Uber gift cards and add the credit to your balance to use on any ride. Did you know you can also use this credit for UberEats? Be sure to read the fine print for any gift card you buy to make sure you know the rules. You’ll still need a valid credit card linked to your Uber account even if you use gift card balances to pay for the ride.

Not yet a member of Uber? Sign up using this link to get a free Uber ride!

I always suggest purchasing these discounted gift cards with a cash back credit card or your favorite miles or points card. I prefer cash back, you can read more about that here if you like.

Also be sure to read about how to combine Swagbucks or Ebates cash back rewards with these discount cards to stack your travel hack rewards.

Happy trails!




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