The manner of giving is worth more than the gift. – Pierre Corneille
I know gift cards are all the rage nowadays, but I still prefer to gift cash.
Thinking about the gift card craze made me wonder how this whole thing even got started.
When did this become so popular? And why?
My theory is that it was a marketing idea targeted at consumers to get them to spend more money on fees to purchase or activate the card.
Gift cards are so common now that I read upwards of 50 percent of Americans now purchase them during the holiday season.
I even saw a movie where a guy told a girl “you’re the best, you’re a subway gift card.”
I definitely understand the appeal, but what they fail to inform you is that a huge number of gift cards go unused.
That’s right. You may have wanted to give your sister the option to purchase whatever her heart desires by giving her that VISA gift card; however, many recipients fail to use them.
Contrary, to popular belief cash is still the number one preferred gift.
Cash does not expire or go out of style.
Remember that gift card you got at Kohl’s for your younger sibling, well guess what, they no longer shop there. Now they shop at H&M (which btw only accept gift cards in store).
So, either the card is re-gifted, exchanged, or expires.
In my opinion, gift cards are a waste of money because so many go unused, but the place you purchased the card from still gets that sale.
Basically, every store on the planet are now offering them and I feel it is partially for this reason: gift cards expire.
Meaning that if you do not use them by a specified date, they are worthless.
Or, what if a retailer decides they are no longer honoring gift cards after 30, 90, or 180 days.
Then what? You can’t fight it because policies and rules can change on a whim.
That’s it, game over.
I say Do Not Waste Your Money.
Here are some gift card Alternatives
- Gift Cash.
No explanation necessary. I have yet to see anyone unhappy with cash as a gift. I know they say there is no thought in it, but I beg to differ.
I thought that you would be able to spend it anywhere, not have to go to any particular store to spend it, not worry about expiration dates…
I’m sure you catch my drift.
Both have come in handy on numerous occasions.
- An actual gift
Some retailers offer free shipping (if you purchase a certain dollar amount) or 2-day shipping and will gift wrap.
- Write a check to a charity or donate online
There are numerous organizations that could use help. You could pick a cause to donate cash to such as the Wounded Warriors Project, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, or Kiva.
Just make sure you research the charity yourself before you give.
Those a just a few suggestions instead of giving a gift card.
I feel like as soon as someone gives me one I get amnesia.
My suggestion is for people to say when a gift giving occasion is on the horizon the following: We appreciate your presence and any gift you give; however, monetary gifts are preferred. Thank you.
This simple phrase can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in needless transaction fees.
CBS reported that Americans spend $32 billion on gift cards, which turns into $10 billion in wasted money.
Millions of dollars that could go to helping fund social programs or investing in communities are gone.
That is nothing but net for businesses because that is all pure profit with almost no effort.
Gift cards are so common that many retailers and banks do not even need to advertise them.
Many shoppers seek them out or see them at the cash register.
Most stores now have a gift card section with a huge selection from a wide range of stores.
Plastic is so much a part of spending in America that even with a gift card many overspend and end up spending their own money to purchase the items they want.
I thought the point of a gift card was to spend less, not more.
So, when it comes to gift cards, buyer beware.