Monday, September 29, 2008

Pros and Cons of Giving Gift Cards

Personally, I love gift cards. I love giving them, and I love receiving them. But there are some things to consider when deciding whether or not it is the right gift for the occasion or individual you are giving it to.

Here are some pros and cons.

  • They are excellent for last-minute gifts.
  • Some of the easiest, fastest shopping you will ever do.
  • You can buy them just about everywhere. You can even buy restaurant and retail gift cards at grocery stores and convenience stores.
  • Most people will like it.
  • Most people can use it.
  • It's a great gift for the picky person or person who has everything.
  • One size fits most, one stop shopping is definitely doable.
  • Recipient has a choice in the gift, and will probably be more satisfied
  • No guessing about sizes, colors, whether the recipient already has one, etc.
  • No need for the recipient to make a return
  • They are easily regiftable, if necessary.
  • They don't take up much space - the recipient doesn't have to find a place to store it.
  • No wrapping required.
  • Easy (and cheap) to ship.


  • The recipient knows exactly how much you spent on the gift (in most cases).
  • Can make for an expensive holiday if you are buying for a lot of people.
  • There is a risk that the merchant can go out of business before the card is used.
  • If it is a store gift card, the recipient is limited to purchasing from that store.
  • A lot of people forget to use them.
  • Some people think gift cards are impersonal (not many I know, but so I've heard)
  • They are nonrefundable.
  • Some of them lose value over time, if not used within certain time periods.
  • Bank and credit card gift cards usually have activation, usage and/or maintenance fees. (However most retailer gift cards do not.)

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