How I Store, Organize, and Track our Gift Cards

posted by Andrea | 04/5/2019

Today’s post is an updated repost from April, 2015.

how we store our gifts cards

Gift cards are one of our most favorite gifts!

We certainly don’t complain about getting cash either… but when we get cash, we almost always just put it in the bank and forget about it. Gift cards, on the other hand, force us to use them at the intended location – which means we will eventually get out at some point!

In fact, Dave and I love gift cards so much that during the holiday season (when all the stores and restaurants are offering special promotions) we often stock up on gift cards to our favorite places – and enjoy the extra bonus rewards and coupons that go with them!

organized gift cards

Obviously, with all these gift cards coming and going, I need to have some sort of organization method to keep them organized, to keep them easily accessible, and to keep track of the balances on each card.

I realize there are Apps for that – and I’ve tried a few of them. However, I’ve never liked any of them enough to get rid of my old, tried-and-true system that has been working well for me for almost 15 years now (starting when I was in college).

As expected, it’s a relatively simple system that only requires a few basic supplies:

  • Masking tape or some type of sticker or label
  • Pen or marker
  • Some sort of container for the cards (zip-top bag, envelope, business card holder, credit card organizer, wallet photo organizer, etc.)

gift cards

Once you have your supplies, the rest is pretty self-explanatory…

I simply put a sticker or piece of masking tape on the front of each card (leaving the card logo still visible) and write the monetary value of the card on the sticker or tape.

As you use the card and the balance decreases, cross out the old balance and write the new balance below.

Put card back in designated storage bag/container and continue re-writing the new balance until the card has been used up.

gift card balance

I store all our gift cards in a simple business card organizer (similar to this one) I got from a company YEARS ago.

It works fabulously well and is quite small so it easily fits inside my diaper bag, or whatever other bag I’m using.

gift card organizer

As you can see by the images below, I also use this business card organizer for store reward and loyalty cards.

organized gift cards

This is the method I’ve been using for about 15 years and I’ve never ONCE lost or misplaced or forgot about a gift card.

I’ve also gotten LOADS of comments (and compliments) about my super simple system of writing the value on masking tape on each card.

In fact, just a couple weeks ago (at Culver’s, of course) the cashier literally grabbed the card out of my hand to look at the front of it. She sort of blushed after realizing how “hasty” she had been… and then said, “that is the best, most simple system I’ve ever seen for keeping track of a gift card balance. I’m going to do that to all my cards when I get home tonight!”

I told her I had been using this method for many years and it does work really well!

The thing I love most about this super simple method is that it’s “instant”.

I always have a pen with me (or close by) so I can INSTANTLY write the balance on my card and not worry about taking the paper receipt with me or trying to store the receipt with the card (which makes a mess). I also INSTANTLY know how much is on my cards at all times without doing a balance check online or by phone. And by keeping all my gift cards in one central location, I can INSTANTLY know where all my gift cards are when it’s time to use one.

If you have a few gift cards lying around, slap on a piece of masking tape, figure out the current balance, and enjoy being just a tiny bit more organized 🙂

Do you have any other fabulous methods for organizing gift cards?

gift cards

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44 comments

  1. M

    09/02/2019

    Great idea (much better than wrapping the last receipt around the cards, which I do now!).

    My challenge is with digital gift cards – any suggestions on keeping / organizing?!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, much less likely to lose the amount if it’s written right on the card… on and for the digital cards, I honestly don’t have a great answer for that, but I might post it as a reader question on my FB page and get back to you!

    [Reply]

  2. Daniel

    04/19/2019

    Thanks for the great article, Andrea. Organizing the gift cards is a big challenge. In our family, we tried to use a similiar method as yours but it was not easy when my wife and I both did shopping during the week. The drama was that you had to take cards out of the organsizer if we went to different shops. Then, we always forgot to put cards back … we also do regular gift card bargain hunting during promotion, buys 5+ cards in one go. Very hard to keep track of all these cards especially when they are partially used.

    As a IT person, I tried to look for a mobile app that could help with the situation. There are a few card wallet apps but they are mostly for rewards card or only for one specific type of card. Then I started to build my own app that can store gift cards and also do live balance check. It was hard work to search for all different types of gift cards.

    If you are a person into mobile, might worth trying doing it digitally especially when the card merchant supports online balance check. Basically, you log into their website and enter card number/pin to find out balance and transaction history. Unfortunately, not all cards support it. Also for certain cards that print balance on receipt, you can maybe just take a photo of the receipt.

    I would really appreciate some insights from you about the app, Andrea, if you are interested. Its called [Gift Card Balance], https://gcb.today/app

    [Reply]

  3. laura

    04/07/2019

    I use a coupon organizer from the $1 section at target. I use the divider tabs to sort them by restaurants, clothing, movie, gas, etc. Also just jot the balance with a sharpie–although some of the cards have busy designs or black backgrounds and so I see the value of the tape strip. Back in February I was closet cleaning and decided to get rid of a plethora of old gift bags. To my surprise I found 4 gift cards hiding in one that I had forgotten about. Close call. I must have tucked them away after presents on Christmas eve for the ride home and folded up the bags later not realizing. Almost $100 in value. Funniest thing is that the kids have never wondered where their cards went.

    [Reply]

  4. Sara Keppel

    04/05/2019

    I use a similar system Andrea and it has worked well for me also for about 19 years! When our kids started in the Christian schools and we joined the TRIP program I wondered what to do with all those gift cards. At that time the school sold a mini “wallet/organizer” to keep them in and I’ve used one ever since! One additional thing I do that I wanted to share for you & your readers is that I keep a mini post-it notepad in the back of the organizer so that it is always handy to put on a new gift card or to replace an old post-it when I’ve used it up by rewriting the balance enough times. This happens on my Meijer and Speedway cards quite often as we reload those every week or so. I’d try to attach a picture of it but I can’t figure out how!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good idea with the post it notes in the back of the folder! thanks 🙂
    And as far as I know, you can’t attache photos to comments on my blog. However, you CAN attach them to social media (FB comments, etc.)

    [Reply]

  5. Stephenie Young

    04/05/2019

    I use a similar wallet, but just write on the gift card with a Sharpie. The wallet I have organizes alphabetically. So helpful!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — alphabetical is a nice touch! 🙂

    [Reply]

  6. Paulette

    04/05/2019

    What a great system! Wonder How I missed the past post on this? Instituting right away. Thanks Andrea!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I dont’ know. You haven’ missed many posts over the years!

    [Reply]

  7. Nicole

    12/30/2018

    Love this Andrea! After hours on Amazon and Staples, I think I’ve finally found a version of your mini card holder in Canada! It was under the trading cards organizers. Here’s a link, if others are interested: https://www.amazon.ca/Ultra-Pro-PRO-Binder-2-Pocket-Black/dp/B0094J1PC0

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    awesome — thanks for sharing Nicole!

    [Reply]

  8. Simplify gift cards and get free money with Swych – Amy & Angie

    02/28/2017

    […] excited to try the app, since I’m currently using this method. It works and all, but if I don’t have a piece of tape or a pen, things quickly get […]

  9. Jeanne

    02/04/2016

    Hi Andrea,

    What kind of tape and what kind of pen do you use on the gift cards? My Sharpie pen smears. Is the kind of tape the key to this? or is it the pen? or both?

    Thank you,
    Jeanne

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    if you use the masking tape as I mentioned in the post, any type of pen or marker will work — that’s the point of the tape (so you don’t get the smudges!) 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Virginia

    10/20/2015

    Hi! I was just reading this today, and have what is probably an obvious question. . .do you just keep this in your purse? And if not, how do you remember to take it when you need it? I love this idea, but I wouldn’t want to carry it in my purse all the time & I could just see myself either forgetting it or not having it when the need arises. Of course, my issue now is that I never actually remember to use my giftcards, or when I do remember, I can’t remember where I put it. . .so this system would be an improvement in that regard! 🙂

    Thanks. I find so many of your tips very helpful!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    No, I don’t keep them in my purse — but that’s mainly because I actually don’t carry a purse, just a wristlet wallet 🙂

    I keep the gift card wallet in my car — which I realize might not sound super safe, but they are tucked away pretty well, and I’ve never had any issues. This way, they are always with me whenever I need them. As far as remembering to actually use them -that I can not help you with!

    I guess I we mainly decide to shop or eat out based on the gift cards we have, so that makes remember to use them really easy!

    [Reply]

    Virginia Reply:

    Thanks! I actually thought to myself that maybe the car was the way to go, so I feel validated that that turned out to be your answer! 🙂

    Thanks again for the great idea.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well I’m certainly not an expert, but glad my opinions help you feel validated 🙂 That’s all that matters!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I don’t use a lot of gift cards. When I do get them, I tend to use them right away, but I can relate to storing them in the car. We get our movie tickets at Costco and keep them in the jockey box so that we never get 30-minutes down the road to the theater and miss our movie (or have to pay full price–gasp!) because we forgot them.

    I’ve never thought about taking advantage of gift card promotions for myself! That’s a great idea if I shop there anyway! I’ll pay closer attention to those in the future.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, definitely pick up some gift cards for yourself!

    [Reply]

    Marge Reply:

    A jockey-box? What is THAT?

    [Reply]

    Linda B. Reply:

    I’m guessing that’s the glove compartment. I love seeing new terms for things! Yesterday I was reading a book set in England and spent five minutes googling to learn about airing cupboards, which we certainly don’t have in the U.S.

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — you’re probably right! So funny!

  11. 40 Organization Tips for Moms to Quickly Get Organized on a Budget

    09/03/2015

    […] 16. Gift Card Organization: Andrea Dekker has great tips to get those gift cards organized so you don’t end up forgetting or misplacing them! […]

  12. Victoria Pomeroy

    07/25/2015

    Thank you so much for this article! Almost every time I Googled “storing gift cards” I would get site after site of “convert them to digital!” (the unspoken ending to this would be, “You Luddite, you!”).

    But that won’t work for me, because I am trying to get gift cards together (I do surveys) to send to my son and daughter-in-law for Christmas. I am on a fixed income and this way I can get them presents with little or no money. Never considered business card folders!

    I won’t have that many to send them but I wanted something they could keep on their kitchen counter to remind them they can always go out to eat (most of the cards are for restaurants).

    Thanks again!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you’re welcome 🙂 glad to help!!

    [Reply]

  13. Kelly K.

    05/19/2015

    Have been thinking about this post since you wrote it and it spurred me on to look for a zippered folio. Found one I liked on Amazon (zippered business card holder by Rolodex) and ordered it with gift card money earned from SavingStar (so FREE in my eyes!). It just arrived and I’m having such fun filling it up with gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards. Thanks for the idea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay for organized gift cards!!

    [Reply]

  14. Barb

    04/08/2015

    I store my gift cards in an old cassette case and it works perfect inside of your purse or bag, that is if you don’t have a ton of cards. The case keeps them contained and doesn’t take up much space in a bag.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    That’s an awesome idea Barb!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Agreed! Great idea. Only, where do you find a cassette case these days?? 🙂

    [Reply]

  15. Emma {Emma's Little Kitchen}

    04/08/2015

    I definitely need a system for this… I’m a total mess with gift cards. Thanks for your ever practical solutions!

    [Reply]

  16. Kelly

    04/07/2015

    My husband and I are both teachers, so we get lots of gift cards too. = ) I do almost exactly the same thing as you. As a teacher, I own a million Sharpie pens, so I keep track of the balance directly on the cards with a Sharpie and then keep them in my holder. I am never far from Sharpie, so I can keep the balances up to date easily.

    [Reply]

  17. Erica

    04/07/2015

    Great ideas! I don’t get gift cards often, but I will try this next time I do.

    [Reply]

  18. Melissa

    04/07/2015

    Love the idea of doing this for loyalty rewards program cards. I have a ton of those cluttering up my wallet.

    [Reply]

  19. Emily

    04/07/2015

    This is so simple yet brilliant!! We have a pile of gift cards from Christmas in our desk, time to get organized!! Thanks for the great tip! 🙂

    [Reply]

  20. Charmb

    04/07/2015

    Hi Andrea, This is a brilliant idea, I have a business card case I can use here at home. Once again you have amazed me with such a simple and useful idea. thanks

    [Reply]

  21. Stel

    04/07/2015

    “Instantly” is the key word for me here. There are so many apps for almost anything under the sun- but it does sometimes add schlepp to you life. Masking tape might be the most underrated tool in the house, from marking gift cards to frozen goods!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes… I love technology, but sometimes, pen and paper (or masking tape) are just easier!

    [Reply]

  22. sue

    04/07/2015

    I have a plastic zip bag in my purse that i keep coupons and cards in …and a sharpie marker. I just write the balance on the front of the card when i use it ..no tape involved.

    sue in nj

    [Reply]

  23. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    04/07/2015

    Great idea, Andrea! I have a gift card wallet for all my gift cards because, like you, we get and use a lot of gift cards! I like the idea of masking tape labels. I’m going to give it a try! My “problem” is that I’ve worn out two gift card wallets from their regular use so need to get another one now. I do love having all my gift cards in one place!

    [Reply]

  24. Stephanie

    04/07/2015

    I just joined our school’s TRIP. Super exciting because for a lot of purchases I can decide in the store that I need an electronic gift card for a certain amount, purchase on the TRIP website, and have a few dollars or cents taken off my tuition bill just by shopping and purchasing items I already use. But there are a few you need physical cards. Grocery and gas are big ones. I can reload those so I am not sure masking tape would work the best for that. I haven’t gotten a system down yet but this does sound easy.
    It is worth the hassle to me because in two months we have shaved off around $30 off our tuition payment. We are pretty stubborn and only buy gift cards when we know we have an item we need from that store, and we try to only buy a just enough so that we don’t run a balance because then that is $3 sitting in our wallet tied down to a specific place. But for gas and grocery it actually helps us keep track of our budget and spending pretty easily. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Shelley Reply:

    Oh, I love TRIP!

    [Reply]