Gift cards still top choice to give, get

It wasn’t long ago that giving gift cards for holidays and celebrations was considered a cop-out. But during the last six years, gift cards have become one of the most desirable gifts — to give and receive.

“I still think there is a lingering stigma to gift cards but it is disappearing quickly,” says Kendal Perez, spokesperson for GiftCardGranny.com, where you can buy and sell gift cards. “It is such a practical gift and people have so much stuff. It makes sense that gift cards are popular.”

This holiday season, 81 percent of shoppers plan to buy at least one gift card and 60 percent say they would like to receive gift cards, according to data from the National Retail Federation. Total spending on gift cards is expected to reach $29 billion.

The most popular categories for gift card purchases include department stores (39 percent), restaurants (33 percent) and book stores (21 percent), while cards from Walmart, Target, Amazon.com and Home Depot top the list of the most requested ones from retailers.

The gift card market has definitely evolved.

“Before you used a gift card when you didn’t know what to give,” says Perez. “Now it is like, there are so many different gift cards, which one do I give?”

A range of retailers have latched on to the popularity of gift cards by offering additional incentives with gift card purchases. Downtown Atlanta restaurant Legal Sea Foods, for example, will give a free lobster dinner to shoppers who purchase $200 in gift cards by Dec. 31. Hearth Pizza Tavern in Sandy Springs is offering patrons $100 gift cards for $75.

And the incentives are not just financial. Barnes & Noble, for example, allows shoppers to design and personalize gift cards for an additional $4.50. To make shopping for gift cards more convenient, Simon Malls introduced gift card displays at its six metro-area malls. You can also buy charity gift cards from websites like JustGive.org, where you choose the amount and your recipient picks the charity. Even deal sites such as Groupon.com now offer gift cards.

What if a gift card misses its mark? A growing number of sites buy unwanted cards at a portion of their original face value and resell them, including PlasticJungle.com and GiftCardRescue.com, as well as GiftCardGranny.

Resellers are behind Dec. 26 being dubbed Gift Card Exchange Day when they will buy your unwanted cards. Go to GiftCardExchangeDay.com, then enter the retailer’s name and card’s value to find out who will pay the most for your unwanted cards.

Which gift cards do you want to get or give? How do you decide what gift cards to give?

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– Nedra Rhone, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

5 comments Add your comment

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Sha'Quonda

December 18th, 2012
11:43 am

When you buy gift cards don’t automatically assume that they’re good to go, you want to make certain that the store employee actually activates them before you leave. Nothing’s more embarrassing than giving dud gift gards to your friends and relatives, ask me how I know.

Martha

December 18th, 2012
12:48 pm

Gift cards seem to me to be a gimmick that benefits only the retailer. Why not give money and let the recipient choose where to shop? Yes, some retailers offer incentives for people to purchase gift cards. But that is because it is so profitable for them. We have been sold a bill of goods, convinced as we are that gift cards are somehow better than cash. How often do you lose cash or forget to use it? Maybe occasionally but not nearly so often as happens with gift cards. Since when is this a bargain?

[...] you know, gift cards have become a very popular gift to give and receive. Naturally, retailers have added incentives to make to purchasing a gift card [...]

Stacy Baum

December 24th, 2012
3:39 pm

A fantastic place to purchase all your giftcards is http://www.GiftCardsforaCause.com. Purchase your favorite retail gift card, and Gift Cards for a Cause will donate up to 20% of value of the gift card, while retaining the full value of the gift card. This is an awesome way to buy gift cards, while simultaneously giving back to your favorite nonprofit organization.