Gift Cards: a Last Resort

When you’re not sure what present to give that special someone gift cards, e-gift cards, and cash are usually a last resort. But why is buying gift cards the same?

Money can be convenient for the buyer and a great idea if the special person seems to have everything or has a specific taste. While some purchasers worry that the person will end up spending the money on others instead of themselves, the top concern for buying gift cards is whether or not the gift will seem too impersonal.

Opinions on these types of gifts vary. Gift cards are certainly popular. This past holiday season $27 billion was spent on gift cards. The most popular cards were from Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Unfortunately, giving someone a gift card doesn’t actually mean they’ll use it. U.S. companies have made $41 billion in unused gift cards since 2005. So is giving a gift card or money a bad idea? Not necessarily.

The economy is still suffering and the unemployment rate is high. Ultimately, giving people a present that can be used on bills, loans, or other necessities is always a welcomed.

Still not sure what to do? Check out the tips  on buying gift cards listed below.

Stop and consider

Before buying a gift card, consider the person and the occasion. If it’s a neighbor’s birthday than a gift card may be great. If it’s your 25th anniversary you may want to find another gift.

Where to buy?

Giving them a card from their favorite store is a good idea, but giving them a mall gift card can be an even better. They’ll have plenty of options. There are websites that offer gift card exchanges or gift cards at a discount. Check out or

Bank cards

A bank gift card could be great, but be sure to choose a card that can be used anywhere.


Read the fine print before buying anything. Sometimes cards (especially those from banks) have activation fees, expiration dates, and other money-draining tricks.


Whether it’s a gift card or money, personalize the present with a handwritten note. If it’s an e-card send a video or a slideshow of pictures too. Don’t be afraid of buying gift cards and be creative.

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