A Beginners Guide to Buying Gift Cards

Giving gifts to people dear to us is oftentimes the most gratifying feeling in the world. Nothing makes the heart warmer than knowing our loved ones are overjoyed by their presents. People these days seek to add a personal touch on their gifts just to be able to paint a smile on their loved ones’ faces but majority of them are not willing to deal with the hassle. Here’s why gift cards are an ideal choice.

Gift cards first surfaced in 1994 when Neiman Marcus decided to try the concept of selling them but it wasn’t widely marketed until Blockbuster’s big move of displaying gift cards in its stores to address rampant counterfeiting of their gift certificates. In 2001, Starbucks entered the scene as one of the few pioneering establishments to produce and sell gift cards. This giant helped secure a spot for this item in the market. In fact, in 2012, Starbucks’ gift cards were selling out fast in United States and Canada.

Unsurprisingly, gift cards have become one of the common gift ideas people usually reach for to date. Contrary to some people’s claim that a gift card lacks a personal touch, nowadays gift cards are made more flexible that you can easily write a personalized note on it.

However, along with gift card innovations are the hidden constraints that also need to be taken into account. Before you buy one, here are what you should look out for:

  • Hidden Fees – Not all gift cards have fees of course but gift cards with fees usually vary depending on the fee amount and the time limits. Some gift cards come with automatic annual or monthly fees or sometimes, you won’t be charged until a period of time has passed. Details about the gift card’s fee are usually indicated in fine prints displayed on store counters. The most common monthly rate is 2%.
  • Expiration Dates – Many gift cards from stores do not have expiration dates but you’ll usually know if they have by reading on the fine prints. However, if you happened to buy a gift card that will expire in days and location constraints are present, you can always sell gift cards online. Nowadays, you’ll find a number of reputable platforms on the web that allow selling of gift cards fast and easy. After you’ve provided your card details, your chosen platform will give you an offer and in no time, your unused gift cards will be converted into cash.
  • Redemption TermsRedemption terms are an important factor that can either make or break your surprise. Gift cards are widely available in today’s market but not all of them can be used anywhere, anytime. Some are restricted only for online use while the others are presold and can only be redeemed after an amount of time.

The Pros and Cons of Giving Gift Cards

Gift cards are popular for a reason. Here are why people resort to giving gift cards over actual gifts:

  • Convenience – Not everyone has the luxury of time to shop for gifts for their loved ones. This is why gift cards are a convenient option. Givers who want to make sure their receivers are pleased with their gifts usually go for gift cards because this means the receivers will get to choose the item that they truly wanted to have.
  • Small and Manageable – Gift cards are common give away during corporate events because they are not bulky to prepare and store. Gift committees will be saved a lot of workloads but the thrill gift cards will give to the employees are pretty much the same high.
  • Huge Savings on Shipment Cost – The difference in fees between shipping actual, especially large, items and gift cards is unmatched. Some gift cards can even be sent electronically and some stores also honor digital gift cards. This means you may no longer have to bear with any shipment costs at all.
  • Discounts – Selected stores regularly offer 5-10% discounts on gift cards unlike in actual retail items that are only discounted on special occasions.
  • Higher Satisfaction Rate – As the concept of gift cards lessens the likelihood of unwanted gifts, more often than not, gift cards please receivers more than they disappoint. They’re the most ideal solution especially for receivers who are notoriously hard to shop for. Back in the days, gift cards were believed to be impersonal because the giver likely has not put a lot of thought into it. But this is no longer the case at the present. Nowadays, gift cards are made customizable; receivers can now add a photo and personal note on selected gift cards.

The only downsides of buying gift cards are the following:

  1. There’s no going back. Gift cards ensure income on the part of the company because once you paid for it, there’s no getting back. You won’t get any value in return but its value is also not growing. This makes gift cards a good choice only if they are utilized right away.
  1. Buying gift cards from unsecured establishments may only put your money to waste come time the company suffers from bankruptcy.
  1. You won’t be able to enjoy sales and other promos. Resorting to gift cards means you’ve already settled with the fixed discount rates. While this initially sounds like a good deal, it also means you won’t be able to take advantages of sales and other promos on actual items, and that you’ll be consequently deprived of more potential savings.
  1. Fees and Expiration Dates

Like in other investments, you will surely win with gift cards provided you have purchased them at the best time, i.e. for regular days, gift cards are the best deal while on special occasions where discounts are widely offered, buying actual items instead will make you a winner.

Got unwanted gift cards? That’s okay. In this digital age, there’s an easy and accessible solution to everything. In this case, you will surely find reliable web services that will give you options to dispose them over cash. They’re only a google away!


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