Gift cards are among the most popular gifts around the holidays, and a lot of retail shops sell gift cards as a way of boosting up their business. There are many reasons people are giving gift cards – not knowing what to purchase and saving time and effort are just some of the few examples. Yet despite the ease of giving out gift cards, they are not always considered as the best gifts. And with many shops closing, some of them might be useless even.
When making your purchase, you should know that there are advantages and disadvantages to giving gift cards – they are easy and simpler to deliver than presents, but they are also impersonal and may come with unpleasant surprises such as charges, inactivity costs and expiry dates. Before buying gift cards, here are some things to look for:
Watch out for charges
There are some retail stores who sell gift cards indicates on the card that there is a monthly or annual fee so when you purchase gift cards, read the fine print carefully. Most of the cards may not start charging charges until some time has passed. Such charges are more popular for gift cards from third parties and are less common for a particular store with gift cards.
Expiry dates on gift cards
Before you buy a gift card, you have to make sure that there is no expiry date, so that you will not have a problem on when will you going to use your gift cards. And a lot of stores sell gift cards which do not have an expiry dates.
You should know where to use the card
Most gift cards can only be used in certain shops. It would be best also if you would check it out first if you can use the gift cards online as well, as some store cards can only be used specifically in stores. If you did not check on it then you might have to wait nearly a year before you will be able to use the card because the product you wanted to buy was only available online. And that could be a problem.
Advantages of Gift Cards
It provides convenience both to the sender and the receiver of the card. Gift cards are ideal for people who have specific needs, or for those who find it hard to have the time to go to the shop. Students in college are another group of people who are good for gift cards because they often have limited storage space for large items.
It can definitely help you save a lot of money especially if you are supposed to ship a gift to another place – which is rather expensive. On the other hand, it costs the price of a first-class stamp to receive a gift card or even less because some gift cards can be sent electronically.
When you know where to buy them, you can save money on sending gift cards. Many retail stores which sell gift cards offer 5-10 percent discounts. There are also online sites that often have discounted gift cards on a wide range of deals. By using cash back credit cards, you may very well be able to save more money.
Unwanted gifts no more
It enables you to avoid in sending unwanted gifts. Many people are extremely hard to shop for, and some people just do not care much about giving gifts. Gift cards allow the person to choose what to purchase.
Ultimately, for those concerned with losing money, gift cards can be a good option. Generally speaking, electronic gift cards are not replaceable, but they are very hard to lose. In order to provide a level of protection in case of loss, physical gift cards commonly need to be registered. When registered, it is easy to replace most of them.
Disadvantages of gift cards
An impersonal kind of gift
Gift cards are considered as impersonal, because you do not have to think a lot about a gift card; all you need to do is just to swipe your credit card and it is done. Giving a gift card for less than $20 might be considered cheap, but it would not really matter because as the common phrase goes “it is the thought that counts” – and not the price. Most people do not even know or care how much you spent on an item.
The company takes your money instantly if you purchase a gift card and you do not get any value in return and just the promise of future value. The company can use your cash for business activities, while you keep an IOU. Instead of being tied up in an IOU, the money is better spent earning interest in high yield saving accounts.
An unsecured “loan” to a shop
Gift cards are deemed to be an unsecured loan to the shop, so if the business files for bankruptcy, gift card holders are low on the list of payment, which means that redemption can never occur. Thus, when you lose some gift cards, you lose money as well.
Even if you can save money on gift cards, you might end up spending more money buying gift cards than you would if you purchased a gift, because you are not going to be able to benefit from sales or promos.
A common problem for all gift cards bought in different denominations is that there might still be some small amount or a balance left after purchases are made.Customers either forget about the balance or do not have to think about using it.This trend has been recognized by retailers and used to get extra value from gift cards. Apart from the comfortable aspects that the cards provide and the fact that they allow customers to be charged faster, all serve as an incentive for companies to expand their gift card programs.It is critical for customers to keep track of their gift card balances and examine any unforeseen circumstances that may occur.