Gift cards have been increasing in popularity in recent years, with most major retailers offering them. While many may consider a gift card to be impersonal, this is often outweighed by the convenience offered to both the purchaser and the recipient of the card.
Have you ever bought someone a Christmas gift that they decided to return? You have to produce the receipt (potentially embarrassing yourself if it indicates "discontinued clearance") or go through the hassle of taking the item back yourself. The latter scenario also leaves you open to buying the wrong item a second time or having to hunt for the exact item to make the person on your list happy. Who has time for that?
Buying a gift card, especially at Christmas, is quick, easy and often refundable. You can buy a card for one particular store or for an entire restaurant chain. You can even purchase an American Express gift card to give the gift of guilt-free shopping! An American Express prepaid gift card can go a long way to encouraging your friends and family to indulge in items they may not ordinarily buy for themselves – and they can be used in thousands of stores worldwide.
What's the difference between a gift card and a gift certificate? Gift certificates are paper coupons that are worth a particular amount, anywhere from $5 to $100 or more. Gift cards are plastic with a magnetic strip that can be loaded up with the exact dollar amount you specify. They can also be reloaded so that you don't have to carry cash or credit cards to purchase items.
There are many reasons for the popularity of Christmas gift cards: they don't need to be wrapped, are easy to mail, and provide maximum purchase flexibility – simply place the gift card inside a Christmas card with your best wishes for the holiday season, and voila, you're done! Parents love them because gift cards can be used as a prepaid credit card while being limited to a specific store. For example, they get peace of mind by giving $100 to their child in university knowing it can't be spent on beer instead of food or clothing.
Gift cards are available at most retail stores year-round including:
Even retailers love gift cards, because they help build customer loyalty and bring in new customers. Gift card spenders often go beyond the amount on the card, using them to buy more expensive items they wouldn't ordinarily consider.
They say it's the thought that counts when it comes to giving gifts. For all their convenience and flexibility, Christmas gift cards are a thoughtful present that allow us to focus on giving, instead of what to give.