Gift cards have become an indispensable part of modern shopping, especially in the UAE. Whether it's for birthdays, anniversaries, or just a token of appreciation, gift cards are the go-to choice for many. But did you know there are numerous hacks to maximize the value of these cards? Let’s dive into the world of gift card UAE and uncover some essential hacks every UAE shopper should know.

Understanding the Basics

Before delving into the hacks, it’s crucial to understand the basics of gift cards. In the UAE, gift cards come in various forms, including store-specific cards, multi-brand cards, and prepaid cards. Each type has its benefits and limitations. Knowing these differences can help you choose the right card for your needs.

Types of Gift Cards

Store-Specific Cards: These are tied to a particular store or brand. For example, a Carrefour gift card can only be used at Carrefour outlets.

Multi-Brand Cards: These can be used at multiple stores within a particular mall or retail chain. The Mall of the Emirates gift card is a prime example.

Prepaid Cards: These are more like debit cards and can be used anywhere that accepts standard payment methods. They offer the most flexibility.

Hack 1: Timing is Everything

One of the best ways to get more value from your gift cards is to use them during sales or special promotions. In the UAE, major shopping events like Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) offer massive discounts. Planning your purchases around these events can significantly stretch the value of your gift card.

Hack 2: Stack Your Savings

Many retailers in the UAE allow you to combine gift cards with other promotions and discount codes. For instance, if you have a 20% off coupon, you can use it alongside your gift card to maximize savings. Always check the store’s policy on stacking discounts to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Hack 3: Use Cashback Apps

Cashback apps are becoming increasingly popular in the UAE. Apps like Smiles by Etisalat and The Entertainer offer cashback and rewards for purchases made through their platforms. By linking your gift card to these apps, you can earn extra rewards or cashback, enhancing the overall value of your card.

Hack 4: Buy Discounted Gift Cards

Several websites and platforms offer gift cards at discounted rates. Sites like Groupon and Cobone often have deals where you can buy a gift card for less than its face value. You can save a lot of money up front by doing this. Be sure to check the validity and terms of these discounted cards before purchasing.

Hack 5: Monitor Expiration Dates

One of the most common pitfalls with gift cards is forgetting to use them before they expire. In the UAE, gift cards typically have a validity period ranging from six months to two years. Set reminders on your phone or calendar to ensure you use them before they expire. Some stores may offer extensions, but it's better not to rely on that possibility.

Hack 6: Exchange or Sell Unwanted Gift Cards

If you receive a gift card for a store you don’t frequent, consider exchanging or selling it. Websites like Card Swap UAE and Gift Card Granny offer platforms where you can trade your unwanted gift cards for ones you’ll actually use. This way, you can ensure your gift card doesn’t go to waste.

Hack 7: Use Gift Cards for Essential Purchases

Another smart way to use gift cards is for essential purchases. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and fuel stations often accept gift cards. Using your gift card for these everyday expenses can free up cash for other uses.

Hack 8: Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs

Many retailers in the UAE have loyalty programs that offer points or rewards for every purchase. When you use a gift card, you can still earn these rewards. For example, using a Carrefour gift card will still earn you points in the MyCLUB loyalty program. Over time, these points can be redeemed for discounts or free products.

Hack 9: Split Payments

Don't worry if the amount you spend exceeds the value of your gift card. Most stores allow you to split the payment between your gift card and another payment method. This flexibility ensures you can still use your gift card even if it doesn’t cover the entire cost of your purchase.

Hack 10: Plan Group Gifts

If you’re planning a group gift for someone, pooling together to buy a high-value gift card can be a great idea. This is especially useful for larger purchases, such as electronics, where a single gift card might not suffice. It also adds a personal touch, as the recipient can choose exactly what they want.


Gift cards are a versatile and valuable tool in the savvy shopper’s arsenal. By understanding the different types of gift cards and leveraging these hacks, you can maximize their value and ensure you get the most out of every card. From timing your purchases to taking advantage of loyalty programs and cashback apps, there are numerous ways to enhance your shopping experience in the UAE. So, next time you receive a gift card, remember these tips and make every dirham count.