How to survive holiday gift returns

Be prepared. Gather your gift receipts and repack what you've opened

(CNN) – The holidays are about giving and receiving and returning. Once you’ve made the decision to ditch the sweater your aunt gave you, that let’s face it looks exactly like the sweater she gave you last year, there are a couple of rules you should know.

As you and your family un-deck the halls, there may be some gifts under the tree that you want to give back. To survive the mall madness there are some things you should know.

Be prepared. Gather your gift receipts and repack what you’ve opened. Some retailers charge a restocking fee especially for those tech toys.

It’s good that we’re past the day after Christmas. Typically it’s the second busiest day of the year for foot traffic in stores. But don’t wait too long to return. Find out the store’s return policy. Some only have a limited time frame to give back those gifts. And others require receipts.

Once you are in those stores do not sign up for the in house credit cards. It’s one more bill to keep up with and it can ding your credit score. Keep tabs on gift cards. Check the balances often. That way you use all the money. Better yet cash in on unwanted cards.

You can sell your gift cards online and in many cases get 90% of the value or more, depending on the store. Some examples cardpool.com or giftcardgranny.com. If you’ve overspent this holiday season there is one way to use those cash cards. Pay down your bills.

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