Pitfalls of the Gift Card

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Do you find yourself too many times giving in to the temptation of the Gift Card for your gifting needs? Perhaps after wandering through countless stores, that rack of gift cards near the register is beginning to command your attention. If you find yourself wavering, be informed of the pitfalls of the gift card.

Gift Cards are not just a convenience that merchants provide for their customers – they constitute Big Business. Any time a corporation is pushing gift cards, you can bet they are in it for the profit. If this is the case, the customer may lose unless he is aware on the pitfalls of giving a gift card as a gift.

Gift cards can be a dream come true for the lazy gifter. A quick and easy gift idea, much like giving money. But think about what you are doing - you are transferring the hassle of researching the conditions of the card to the recipient. You are letting your recipient be the one to worry about loss, expiration dates, hidden fees and convenience. Should it be up to them? Once the card is given, how and when it is spent is out of the hands of the giver. When the recipient is unaware of the rules, stores can make make money on unused and expired gift cards. In some cases, you might as well donate to the store - if the recipient never spends it there is nothing you can do.

Yes, they seem cost efficient and an easy gift idea - at least for you. There are no shipping charges, no endless shopping trips, no agonizing over the perfect gift, and no wrong sizes. However, the recipient must go to the store in order to use the gift card. This often means that he has to spend additional money to find something he likes, sometimes forcing the recipient to spend money on his own gift.

Do you just not trust your judgement in choosing a gift and think the gift card would be a safe gift? Giftypedia is full of information to help you in choosing a gift for almost any recipient. Here's just a few examples...

If, after all, you decide to purchase a gift card for your recipient, here are a few things that should be considered:

  • No cash back from Gift Cards - Remember there is no cash back. Every cent must be spent in that store usually causing the recipient to spend more.
  • Gift Cards may expire - Some cards have an expiration date. Some take your money as a 'non-use fee'. Others, like Starbucks, deducts a dollar a month until the card is empty or you use it again.
  • If the Gift Card is lost - If the card is lost or stolen, there may be no way to get your money back or get the card replaced.
  • Gift Card Fees - Credit card gift cards usually have fees associated with them in the form of processing and delivery fees. There may also be a monthly fee if the card is not redeemed before a specified time. Some even charge to use the card.
  • Is the Gift Card convenient for the recipient? – Giving an Outback gift card to someone who lives 50 miles away from this popular restaurant is inconvenient and may render the card useless.
  • Will the recipient actually use the gift card? – Is the gift card from a store the recipient has an interest in and do they enjoy shopping? If not, the card may never be used.

It is possible to successfully give a gift card if you have researched the conditions of the card and have considered the recipient's interests. Just realize that gift cards are not always the perfect solution. Sometimes you do better the old fashioned way – by taking a risk and shopping for them. After all, isn't that part of the fun?

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