When it comes to shopping for unique and lovely gift ideas, gift cards are a popular choice, especially amid the holiday or mother’s day season. Some people end up buying gift cards to save effort and time in shopping without reducing the likelihood of their recipients liking their presents. More often than not, businesses take advantage of this opportunity by trying to sell gift cards online.
Just because it is convenient to give gift cards, it does not mean they are the best gifts. With a lot of shops closing, some of these cards might even end up useless. On the upside, they are the easiest and most convenient to deliver. However, there are those that find gift cards lacking personal touch or complain about hidden charges and other factors. To know more about their advantages and disadvantages, read on…
Advantage #1: Convenience
In terms of advantages in buying gift cards, topping the list is convenience. Nothing is probably more convenient than just doing your purchase via smartphone or computer and giving the actual gift card or an electronic copy of it to your recipient. Gift card recipients usually end up happy especially if they have been eyeing on specific stuff but did not have the money to afford it.
Advantage #2: Economical
Gift cards are economical for both parties. On the part of the giver, instead of having to ship the gift to the recipient which comes with an additional shipping expense, he can just have an e-copy sent to the recipient’s email which is totally of free charge. Meanwhile, the receiver can enjoy potential savings from it or enjoy more that he was supposed to have by spending the card on discount and sale seasons.
Advantage #3: Happiness and Satisfaction
Besides the convenience gift cards offer on the part of the givers, they also help ensure happiness and satisfaction on the part of the recipient because, again, recipients get to pick the item that he is going to spend the gift card for. Sending of unwanted gifts, in this case, is eradicated.
Advantage #4: Security
Gift cards are a great option if you are a type of giver that does not want to lose money. It is because although electronic gift card issuers do not allow replacement, gift cards are barely lose-able in the first place because of the level of protection being implemented in online gift card shops.
Disadvantage #1: Alleged Lack of Personal Touch
To some people, gift cards seem to be lacking personal touch because the giver does not have to go through deep thinking about what gift to give. All the giver basically has to do is make the purchase online and key in his credit card details to pay for it. As the saying goes, “it is the thought that counts.” Does that mean gift card givers are not thoughtful? It depends.
Disadvantage #2: Less Value
In terms of monetary value preservation, gift cards are a questionable option in a sense that the buyer is practically paying for something in advance and the issuer will not be giving actual items to the recipient yet until the giver decides to use it.
To the anti-gift-card community, the money spent on it is better spent on banks where there are interests yielded. Yet again, gift giving is not supposed to be income-generating, right?
Disadvantage #3: Unsecured Loan
Some financial experts consider gift cards as an unsecured shop loan because if the issuer suffers from bankruptcy and the recipient is unable to utilize it, redemption can never happen. Hence, losing gift cards or failing to use them at the time allowed is like losing money in an instant.
Moreover, although there are potential money savings on gift cards, buyers are likely to end up buying more than necessary than if they would purchase a gift because gift cards are rarely included in sales or promos.
Disadvantage #4: Left-out Balances
One common issue about gift cards is that if the recipient decides to use it for something less its worth, he can no longer claim the balance left. Because of this, gift card users end up without a choice but to forget what is left. Apparently, gift card issuers are well aware of this; the left-out balances are automatically added to their gain. Besides the comfort that gift cards offer, how they are used as a medium for customers to be charged faster is just so pro-seller and anti-customer.
Now that you are more aware of the identified advantages and disadvantages of gift cards, should you still decide to choose them as gifts to your loved ones, be wise enough. Keep your money’s worth by heeding these tips:
Tip #1: Be mindful of their redemption periods.
Most gift cards come with specific redemption periods. Hence, if the gift card is not utilized within the allowed period, it can mean your recipient is no longer able to enjoy its supposed worth. Do not let this happen. Before you buy one, do the math and make sure the recipient will still have enough time to use it. As the giver, it is also your responsibility to orient the recipient about the card’s expiry date.
Tip #2: There may be hidden charges.
Some gift card issuers implement an annual or monthly fee. Hence, before you even consider buying one, make sure you already have read the entire fine print or be sorry later. Because charges like this usually occur only after a specific period.
Tip #3: Make sure you know where the card can be used.
The majority of gift cards are only to be utilized in particular shops. Hence, as the giver, part of your responsibility is to make sure the gift card you give can be utilized where your recipient (its supposed user) is in. Failure to check on this clause might mean your money’s worth is bound to be lost as a consequence of untimely redemption. Remember, with most gift cards, the clock is ticking.