View Full Version : Why gift cards?

Jamie Buxton
12-04-2015, 7:49 PM
Why in the world does anybody buy or give gift cards? If I'm going to give you a gift, I could give you a gift card, or I could give you the cash that I was going to use to buy the gift card. If I give you the card, you have no options: you must spend that money at that store. But if I give you cash, you can spend it anyplace. That is, cash is a much better gift for you. So if I'm trying to give you a gift you appreciate more, I should be giving you cash. So why does anybody give a gift card?

Wade Lippman
12-04-2015, 8:06 PM
You really don't know?!
Cash is tacky because it means you did absolutely nothing at all.
Gift cards are something purchased; the gifter thought a bit about what to buy, and bought it.

Okay, my SIL gave me a Ace gift card when the nearest Ace store is 40 miles away, so it wasn't exactly productive thought...

I agree with you that gift cards are silly, but that is the reason.

Erik Loza
12-04-2015, 8:22 PM
My mother-in-law gets me a Starbucks gift card for my birthday and for Xmas and I always appreciate it. More than cash and certainly more than some gizmo or gadget I would only use once and then put on the shelf.


Patrick Walsh
12-04-2015, 9:33 PM
Funny gift card story.

We just finished a 1.5 year project building a custom home. The owner owns SOG the knife manufacturer along with a number of other random companies.

Anywho he gave us all "the builders crew" a bunch of knives and random stuff from the various companies he owns.

He also gave us each a gift card to a localish conglomerate that owns a bunch of semi upscale restaurant chains. He gave them to us in a envelope with a card, there was no indication of how much was on each card.

One at a time each of us took it upon our self to call and see how much was on each card. Each of us got led through a phone tree to a random message informing us the cards had nothing on them or where not identifiable.

One of our wife's "I'm not married" took it upon her self to try and get to the bottom of the situation. In the end it was determined that the company had no idea where any of the cards even came from and where fraudulent.

Im also not a fan of gift cards in place of cash. I could give a crap if someone takes the time to think about me when giving a gift. The reality is unless it is your wife, your kid, you mother or father gift giving is nothing more than a exploited formality.

Bill McNiel
12-04-2015, 10:00 PM
Gift cards keep Grandkids from spending the money on drugs, alcohol and girls.

Gift cards let my son & daughter-in-law know that the money is to be spent on them individually, not the family or the kids. They live on Maui and shipping presents is really expensive.

On the other hand, I had better not EVER give my wife a gift card.

Mike Cozad
12-04-2015, 11:27 PM
Like me, my wife has a very specialized hobby. Outside of the 2 quilting machines that each were so far north of any tool I own (bought 15 years apart), I don't have great insight into what she needs or wants for her hobby. 2 years ago I got lucky and she was working at a local quilt shop 1 day a week cleaning up. I went to the shop and asked the owner what my wife could use. That was the best Christmas in terms of surprising her in a long long time. So when I am stumped, gift cards are an awesome way for me to ensure she gets a hobby related gift that will get used and not some gimicky junk that I found searching web quilt forums and doesn't fit her process.

I don't always get her cards though. Last year I overheard her talking to her sister saying that she needed a different sewing table that was a better ergonomic fit for her. I found the best on the market in Cleveland and took her out to get it. If they hadn't had that one in stock, I would still have driven to that shop but would have come away with a gift card in the amount of the table I would have requested.

So I think there is a thoughtful way to give gift cards....

Shawn Pixley
12-04-2015, 11:40 PM
I give restaurant movie theatre and restaurant gift cards to my parents. If I gave them cash the'd never do anything nice for themselves. It is way of giving them a date night(s). They really don't need things...

Jay Runde
12-05-2015, 12:24 AM
I can buy gift cards on my credit card and get the rewards as we'll as 4x points on our grocery shopping card. For each $100 I would spend that gives me $5 in rewards from credit card and 40 cents off per gallon of gas. So I am basically buying $100 in gift cards for about $80.

Mark Blatter
12-05-2015, 12:43 AM
I give restaurant movie theatre and restaurant gift cards to my parents. If I gave them cash the'd never do anything nice for themselves. It is way of giving them a date night(s). They really don't need things...


This is why we give gift cards to our kids. When they were in college, it was a way to give me some meals we knew they liked (Subway or something similar) where they could grab lunch. When our son was planning on building a new computer, gift cards to Amazon or a computer store was a way to help him out.

Yes, cash would be easier to spend, but it makes sure that the funds are used for a specific purpose.

When I get an Amazon card, I typically give it to my wife for her to spend on the kids. Go figure.

Yonak Hawkins
12-05-2015, 12:49 AM
Also, I buy Home Depot and Lowe's gift cards for myself at Kroger. That gives me money off gas at Kroger for money I would spend at Home Depot and Lowe's anyway.

Mike Cutler
12-05-2015, 7:58 AM
I give my wife Amazon Gift Cards, because that is what she wants.
She has Paypal, is registered with Amazon and buys things from Amazon regularly, but she just likes to receive the gift cards. She calls them "free money". It makes her happy, and that's why I do it.
I have given Home Depot and Tractor Supply cards to folks, but only because I know that they purchase at those two stores on a regular basis.

As an aside though. I have noticed that some retailers will attempt to charge sales tax on the purchase of a gift card. Most notably, Target. In the state of Connecticut, gift cards are not subject to sales tax, the taxing comes when they're redeemed.

Randy Red Bemont
12-05-2015, 8:51 AM
I for one enjoy receiving gift cards as gifts. My family and friends know where I shop for tools and so forth so I do get cards for places I shop. Some people think it's impersonal to give cards so I'm glad I'm not on their list. And when you get a couple of cards for the same place, you can then get that one item you've been thinking about but never took the plunge on.


Greg Cuetara
12-05-2015, 9:23 AM
in past years I have been given gift cards for christmas or my birthday to the BORG....multiple people will give me $20 each and it has added up to quite a bit at the end of the holiday season. It gives me a great excuse that I have to buy something there so I have bought some tools there whereas if I just get cash it goes into the bank account and I can't spent it on anything but bills....

Ole Anderson
12-05-2015, 10:31 AM
Personally,I would rather receive a gift card than equivalent cash for all of the reasons stated above. And now I know what to get my wife for Christmas as she tells me she need absolutely nothing and isn't a jewelry person. And I hate shopping, wandering aimlessly around a mall trying to think of something she might like. Been there, way too many times. Her only hobby is reading and knitting, perfect ones for gift cards. Try to buy yarn she will like or a book she will like or hasn't read? Isn't going to happen. Amazon and Jo Ann, here I come. Only problem is that she gets notifications on her phone whenever I use our charge card...

Yonak Hawkins
12-05-2015, 10:50 AM
Only problem is that she gets notifications on her phone whenever I use our charge card...

Wait ! You're buying her a gift and putting it on your joint credit card ? Why didn't I think of that ?

Brian Henderson
12-05-2015, 1:24 PM
Whereas my wife and kids and I actually maintain gift lists at Amazon, nobody else in the family does and if you ask them, they have no clue what it is that they want. It's just easier to give them gift cards and let them make the decision on what they want to spend it on than risk getting something they hate or already have.

Ken Fitzgerald
12-05-2015, 1:59 PM
Some people are extremely seletive about certain things. For example, my family knows better than to buy a tool for my shop. I know better than to buy an appliance for my wife's new kitchen. So, I have family members who have given me a gift card to Rockler or WoodCraft and it works out well.

Myk Rian
12-05-2015, 3:41 PM
We give Starbucks cards to a select few because we know they'll use them.
If we give any other cards, they will be a VISA, MC, or other. They can be spent anywhere.

Mike Henderson
12-05-2015, 4:19 PM
I had a woman friend give me a flower arrangement as a "thank you" gift one time (for some woodworking things I did for her). While I know she had good intentions, I can't think of a more useless gift - it will just sit around and then you'll throw it out. A gift card would have been much more appreciated - I could have used that to buy tools or materials - something that would last.


Bruce Page
12-05-2015, 5:00 PM
A few years ago our teenage grandchildren asked for gift cards from one of the local shopping malls. The cards work in any of the 100+ mall stores. They're happy and we don't have to scratch our heads trying to figure out what they want.
It's a win/win for us.

Matt Meiser
12-05-2015, 8:25 PM
We used to buy quite a few for other stores at Kroger. Every $50 we spend on gift cards gets $0.10 off on a gallon of gas. Every $25 this time of year. Since I traded my truck for an escape it's not as big a deal though.

Bruce Wrenn
12-05-2015, 9:18 PM
Store gift cards limit you to only one place, while cash is universal. Right now I'm holding a handful of Lowes cards, but what I want is at HD. My dad used to say about cash- "The size may not be right, but the color is perfect!"

Frederick Skelly
12-05-2015, 10:24 PM
If I get cash, it often gets spent on whatever is needed at the time. If I get Lee Valley gift cards - I ca n only use them for ME. ��

Dave Lehnert
12-05-2015, 10:56 PM
Retailers love gift cards because a lot never get used.

Ken Fitzgerald
12-05-2015, 11:20 PM
If I get Lee Valley gift cards - I ca n only use them for ME. ��

I always get upset when that happens to me!:rolleyes::D

Moses Yoder
12-06-2015, 6:20 AM
At one time Meijer had a day about once a month or whatever where you got 15% off any purchase in the store if you used the Meijer credit card and then during the Christmas season there were Santa bucs available for employees or some such. My daughter's boyfriend would buy Amazon gift cards there, a $100 gift card for like $60.

I like Subway and Starbucks cards for Christmas. Will PM my address.

Rich Riddle
12-06-2015, 1:28 PM
Retailers love gift cards because a lot never get used.
Every year the news discusses this topic. In the USA, people have over $41 billion in unused gift cards. I either give gifts or cash, or both. The people I know who need cash, need cash not a gift card. Look at Craigslist sometime and see how many people sell gift cards for cash. Some might be from refunds but those that are even dollar amounts were most likely gifts someone is selling for a lower cash value.


Brian Elfert
12-06-2015, 11:59 PM
I wonder at what point gift cards are actually written off on a retailer's books? Gift cards these days are generally good forever.

Matt Meiser
12-07-2015, 12:17 AM
Definitely during their bankruptcies. :rolleyes:

Mike Wilkins
12-07-2015, 10:33 AM
Retailers push gift cards, since you can only redeem them in their store. You are also tempted to purchase other items over and above the value of the gift card. So a win-win in their book.
Besides, if I have cash, it seems to grow legs and walk out of my wallet too fast. A gift card gives me something to look forward to.