Say No to Gift Cards

Gift cards seem to be all the rage these days. Retailers seem to have convinced us that they are the way to go.

They make a lot of sense. If you don’t know what to buy for someone, get them a gift card. It’s quick and easy and it shows that you put some thought into the gift (although not a lot)

Here’s why you shouldn’t buy gift cards.

You are giving money to a store or franchise for absolutely no reason

Wouldn’t it make more sense to just give cash to the person instead? Why should you give it to a store for the promise of a future purchase? Do you know that a lot of people forget about their gift cards after a while? There are a huge number of gift cards that never get redeemed. The stores know this. They are making lots of money off of us for nothing.

Some gift cards have hidden fees

The credit card companies have gotten into this game now. Since financial institutions are not stores they can charge all sorts of extra fees. Beware of these fees because you are not only wasting your money but the money you wanted to give to someone special.

You are being controlling

If you want to buy someone a gift that you know they would enjoy, do so. If you absolutely can’t think of a suitable gift, give them cash instead. It doesn’t limit them in what they can do with the money you have given them, and I’m sure it will be more appreciated than a silly piece of plastic.

Gift cards are not a good idea

It’s time we woke up and stopped buying these things. The only winners in the sale of gift cards are the stores we purchase them from. We are basically advertising for the store, among many other things we probably haven’t even thought about.
What do you think about gift cards? Leave your comment below.

4 responses to “Say No to Gift Cards”

  1. I think they have their time and place. I agree, they’re over-used right now, but in the right situation, they’re okay.

    I just came back from a party to honour one of my colleagues who’s wife is about to have a baby. We collected money and got a gift card to Babies R Us. I think it’s a great gesture since we know they’ll use it.

    However, I received an unbelievable amount of money in gift cards to Pier 1 for my wedding over 2 years ago and still have like $500 sitting there because there is nothing I want to buy at the store. I bet a lot of people forget about these cards and then the money is never spent. Money in the bank for the store, but the gift-giver and receiver are out. Money handed to a corporation for nothing just seems silly.

    My dad sends a lot of gift cards. He’s always been of the philosophy that if you send cash the receiver might use it to pay their bills or do something that isn’t fun with it. He likes to send gift cards because it forces them to spend it on themselves. I don’t know what to think about that. Some people might think that cash as a gift is great – if they pay their bills with it, it might just bring them a little happiness, and they’re probably better off in the long run.

    Again, gift cards have their time and place. It’s just too bad they seem to be replacing traditional gifts. It’s far more fun to receive (and give, for that matter) something that is thoughtful and perhaps a surprise.

  2. Hi Leese,

    Thanks for the great comment. I think that buying a gift is a personal thing between people. Like you said, it’s a shame that gift cards are replacing traditional gifts. That should’ve been the forth point in my rant. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  3. Additionally, some recipients aren’t gift-card-friendly. My bride and I are trying to find gifts to thank my parents for their help with our wedding, and she suggested a gift card to a favorite restaurant.

    As I considered the idea, I realized neither of my parents would ever actually USE the card… just because they never, ever, pay through any means except cash and a very rare check. Dealing with plastic would make them so uncomfortable, the card would simply be set aside and forgotten.

    This is a well-thought-out and timely post… thanks!