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The Pros and Cons of Giving Gift Cards

Should You Give a Gift Card?

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Are you planning on giving a gift card as a gift? Are you wondering if gift cards make good gifts? The best answer is the one that fits for most gifts that you give -- it all depends on who you are giving the gift card too and if the card that you select is for something that they will enjoy.

Gift Cards Get a Bad Rap

Overall, gift cards seem to be more popular to gift givers, than receivers. Many on the side against giving gift cards consider it to be impersonal and gives an impression that the gift giver is lazy.

There are also reservations about giving gift cards that may accumulate fees, decrease in value or expire to soon. Fortunately new laws governing gift cards are addressing these issues.

In August 2010, new gift card laws went into effect for store gift cards. Fees are now prohibited for 12 months and the cards cannot expire for five years. Also, if for some reason a gift card cannot be scanned, retailers are required to issue a new card at its current value.

Why People Do Not Like Getting Gift Cards

A recent survey Consumer Reports determined that over a quarter of the gift cards given are never used.

According to the survey, 58% of the people said they did not use their gift cards because they didn't have time. 35% said they couldn't find anything to buy, followed by the 32% who forget they had a gift card or those who misplaced their gift card.

But does this make it a bad gift? Imagine how many people receive gifts that never get worn, used, displayed, played or exchanged for something else. I shudder to think how much money is wasted on gifts that people really do not want and never use.

To help sort it out, let's take a look at the Pros and Cons of giving gift cards.

The Pros of Buying Gift Cards

  1. People can choose what they want to buy.
  2. The cost of sending gift cards is a lot less than the cost of mailing packages.
  3. The person receiving the gift card can get more bang for their buck by shopping with gift cards during peak sale times.
The Cons of Buying Gift Cards
  1. Gift cards are easy to lose.
  2. Some believe gift cards are impersonal.
  3. Retailers may go out of business before a card is used.

New Options for Unwanted Gift Cards

There is really no reason now for someone to get stuck with an unwanted gift card. Over the last few years a new development in the gift card craze has grown in popularity. These are services that will buy unwanted gift cards for a portion of the cards' value.

Cardpool.com and Swapagift.com are popular companies which provide services where you can sell, trade or buy discounted gift cards.

The services pay you for your unwanted card based on the popularity of the card you are selling.

I tested the sites to see what they pay popular gift cards valued at $50 each. Out of the five cards tested, Cardpool.com paid more for each.

Cardpool.com

  • Best Buy - $43
  • Home Depot - $42
  • Macy's - $40
  • BabiesRUs - $40
  • Cracker Barrel - $39
Swapagift.com
  • Best Buy - $35
  • Home Depot - $35
  • Macy's - $32.50
  • BabiesRUs - $32.50
  • Cracker Barrel - $32.50
Need Extra Cash?

With the new laws and the services that will buy unwanted gift cards, many of the pitfalls of giving gift cards have been removed. For those who still do not like giving gift cards, but need cash to buy gifts, you may want to consider buying gift cards with earned loyalty points from credit card companies, banks and websites like Swagbucks, then selling them to one of the services mentioned above.

Necessity Gift Card Giving

A popular trend during these tough economical times is to look for more practical gifts to give. Gift cards for gas, groceries and drugstores are gifts that have value for anyone living on a tight budget.

The Bottom Line

Gift cards are just like any other gift that you give. Before you choose one, you will want to think about the person that you are giving it to, their likes and dislikes, and try to select a card that will be appreciated. And just like every other gift that you give -- what they choose to do with it after they receive it is up to them.
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