Gift Cards: My Secret Emergency Supply Item

gift card display

Ah, hurricane season is here again. That means it’s time to check over the emergency kit and make sure I have enough water, food, and other supplies to make it through several days if we should lose power. Even if we don’t get a hurricane this year, there’s snow and ice season to look forward to. It’s always something. Almost every area of the country has some sort of natural disaster that they should prepare for, whether it’s earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, or snowstorms.

Along with all of the essentials, I add a secret ingredient to my emergency stash: Gift cards. It sounds strange, but I discovered this tip sort of by accident. A few years ago we got hit


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7 Responses to Gift Cards: My Secret Emergency Supply Item

  1. michael says:

    I have an emergency credit card for just this reason. I don’t use credit card for anything and it has a several thousand dollar credit limit on it. It doesn’t have a yearly fee so it doesn’t cost anything for me to keep it, but it has the advantage that it can be used anywhere and not just at a particular store like gift cards.

  2. greenday says:

    Do gift cards expire? I could see myself putting a gift card into my emergency kit and then not look at it for several years. If gift cards expire, then I would lose all that money. I guess this might work for somebody who checks their kit on a regular basis, but for me I just put it together and put it to the side so I’m not sure how well gift cards would work for me.

  3. Bben says:

    Gift cards expire, cash doesn’t. A dirty little secret about some gift cards is that if you don’t use them, there is a ‘fee’ – sometimes a monthly fee that reduces the value to zero withing a few months.

    Also, What if you do need something and the local stores still do not have power? They will be unable to process your gift card, however most will still be able to process cash. Note that some stores are so dependent on their heavily automated system that they will closed down rather than sell without the electronics working.

    I once worked as a clerk in a small locally owned convenience store. We had a regional power loss, and my store was the only one that would sell anything because I knew how to make change and calculate tax without an electronic cash register. The bigger corporate store across the street locked their doors because they didn’t know how to function without electricity.

  4. dean says:

    I know that credit card style gift cards from Visa and MasterCard usually have fees and can expire, but is this common with store gift cards which are mentioned in the article? I don’t know of any store gift card that I have it comes with the fee or an expiration date.

  5. Julie says:

    Normally I like Jennifer’s writing, but this one really didn’t impress me. I would rather just put an extra $100.00 in the emergency box so as not to limit my choices to one pizza parlor, gas station or store if I am in the process of recovering from some type of natural disaster.

  6. spjlc says:

    I love getting gift cards, and there are so many ways to get them for a discount these days that if you do use them, you can save a lot of money over cash. It seems like having a stash of them for emergencies would be a great way to use them. A lot of times I get gift cards as giveaways or for buying something that I would already buy, so they are just an added bonus. I think this is a great idea.

  7. Geof L says:

    Gift cards are good but so many have now gone to fees for non-use after some time that they can loose all value. Instead we use a no fee credit card and a no fee cash card. Most places will take one or the other, we are not stuck to a limit (our family of 8 w/ grandkids can easily out-eat a $100 gift card at a single seating). We also now have a Pet Survival Kit that has eliminated the need to buy things post-storm for our dog. He’s covered for more than a week as we modified the contents to include extra food and bedding just for him.

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