Are Gift Cards a Lazy Gift? A Crash Course in Gift Card Etiquette

Wondering if a gift card is an ok gift? We’re answering your top questions about the do’s and don’ts of giving gift cards

Giving gifts can be tricky. At the end of the day, the goal of giving a gift to someone in your life is to show them that you care. In a big way or a small way, a gift demonstrates that you were thinking of them. And for our closest loved ones, gifts are also a way to show just how well we know the other person, that we’ve listened to them and remembered details about them to find this thing that’s so perfect for them, they might not have even thought to pick it out for themself.

No pressure, right?

Not to mention, there are several gift-giving holidays each year, which means you figure out the perfect gift, chances are you have to start thinking about the next holiday or celebration.

With so many holidays to find gifts for, gift cards can be a tempting option. But unfortunately, giving gift cards as a gift is sometimes considered thoughtless, impersonal, or lazy. So how do you know if giving a gift card is appropriate? Are there situations in which gift cards are actually a great gift? We’re weighing in once and for all on all of your most frequently asked questions on gift card etiquette.

So are gift cards a lazy gift? Keep reading to find out!

(Psst, here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store)

  • Cons: Why Gift Cards Get a Bad Reputation
  • Pros: Most Americans Actually Prefer Gift Cards
  • Gift Card Etiquette 101
  • Our Top Pick for Digital Gift Cards
  • How to Build a Custom Physical Gift Card
Finding the perfect gift for loved ones several times a year can be a challenge – are gift cards a thoughtful solution, or a lazy way out?

Cons: Why Gift Cards Get a Bad Rap

According to a study by Consumer Reports, a whopping 49% of American adults had received a gift card in the last 12 months, and that number is only expected to climb. Some of the 1,004 participants admitted that they would have preferred to receive something else – but certainly not all of them.

There were participants who responded that they would have preferred a physical gift – something purchased from a store and wrapped up with a big ‘ol bow – but over half of Americans responded that they somewhat like or strongly like receiving a gift card as a gift.

But for those who don’t like seeing a gift card – what is their reasoning? A few common complaints about receiving a gift card include:

  • Merchant. Most gift cards can only be cashed in with one store or merchant – and if your gift card recipient doesn’t like the one you picked out, the gift isn’t immediately useful or fun for them.
  • Fees. Have you read the fine print? Some gift cards carry activation fees, which mean your recipient doesn’t get to use the full value of the card you purchased them.
  • Security. Gift card scams are, unfortunately, out there – scammers can copy the codes of cards still on the rack to steal their balance, or swipe the physical card if your recipient doesn’t keep a close eye on it. Either way, the result is one disappointed gift recipient. 

Does that mean gift cards are a thoughtless, unpopular gift? Not really. Luckily for last minute gift givers everywhere, the concerns above can actually be addressed pretty easily.

Asking loved ones for cold hard cash is often perceived as rude, but who doesn’t love having a little extra spending money to take the stress off paying for necessities or even for treating yourself?

Pros: Most Americans Actually Prefer Gift Cards

Sure, gift cards have some drawbacks – but there are also plenty of reasons gift cards make great gifts. A survey from CashStar even revealed that 50% of respondents would prefer to receive a gift card over a physical gift – and that number jumps to 61% among 35-44 year olds.

But 30% of respondents also reported that they feel guilty about asking for the gift cards they want. The most popular reasons cited were that they don’t like asking for anything and that asking for a gift card feels rude, like asking for cash.

When it really comes down to it, gift cards are a thoughtful gift that can help your loved one pay for their essentials or treat themself to something special. In fact, an impressive 66% of respondents reported that they feel less guilty about spending money on themself if they pay for the purchase with gift cards. And this holds especially true for younger gift recipients, with the number jumping to 79% for 18-24 year olds and 78% for 25-34 year olds.

So if you’re looking for a way to get someone important in your life to actually treat themself to something they’ve been wanting, a gift card is an effective way to do it.

Far from being a lazy gift, gift cards are a great way to make sure the people you care about most take the time to treat themselves every now and then.

Gift Card Etiquette 101

In many cultures, there are pretty strict traditions about what gifts to give for different occasions. American culture, but comparison, is pretty wide open. Deciding what kind of gift to give depends on a variety of factors, including your relationship with the recipient, the occasion being celebrated, etc., but here are some basic rules of gift etiquette that should help you navigate the process.

What to Give

Americans are pretty generous when it comes to giving! In addition to gifts for several holidays each year (Mother’s/Father’s Day, Easter, Winter Holidays), personal celebrations (birthdays, anniversaries), and important milestones (engagements, retirements, wedding showers, baby showers, graduations, housewarming) – Americans also give gifts as a token of thanks of friendship. Think of all of the times you’ve received the advice to never visit someone’s home empty-handed.

While a gift isn’t always expected, gifts are always appreciated whether they’re big or small. 

Some popular small gifts include candy or chocolate, pastries or desserts, a bottle of wine, fresh flowers, and smaller value gift cards.

Popular big gifts include physical items, events or experiences, and larger value gift cards.

How to Give

Whether giving a physical gift or a gift card, the key is giving your recipient a gift, not a chore. For example, if you give someone flowers, consider arranging them in a vase yourself. That way, your recipient doesn’t have to trim and arrange them – they can just sit back and enjoy your gift!

If you want to avoid having your gift come across as lazy, keep these tips in mind:

  • Do your research. If you aren’t sure what kind of gift or gift card someone might like, consult someone who is closer to them for advice. This way, you minimize the chances that they’ll have to return or exchange your gift.
  • Cover the fees. If your gift has any charges or fees that need to be paid before the gift can be used, cover them for your recipient.
  • Choose the most convenient option. Especially when it comes to gift cards, there are lots of ways to gift. Physical gift cards, gift certificates, digital gift cards – which one will be easiest for your gift recipient to spend?
  • Personalize your gift. That can mean wrapping it or customizing it – either way, try to give your gift a personal touch that shows how much you care.
GiftYa isn’t just convenient for you – it’s convenient for the person you’re giving a gift card to as well.

Meet GiftYa, a Unique Digital Gift Card Option

There are lots of ways to give a digital gift card, and on the surface GiftYa might look like any other e-gift card platform. Dig just a little deeper and you’ll discover that it’s so much more than that.

Yes, just like any other e-gift card, it can be used easily from a smartphone and keeps track of the gift balance so your recipient doesn’t have to. 

But unlike other digital gift cards, GiftYa can be linked up to a credit card your recipient carries with them every day anyway. Their gift balance will automatically be applied toward their purchases, and they’ll still get to rack up rewards points on their card. 

Personalizing your GiftYa card with a message, photo, or even short video can be done in seconds.

Choose from thousands of local and national brands to find a gift that your gift recipient is sure to love. And best of all, if they don’t love it, they can exchange it just a couple of clicks for something that will help them get settled or even regift the balance.

Text or email a gift card with GiftYa

Get to Know Gift Card Granny, Your Physical Gift Card Marketplace

Wouldn’t it be nice if giving a gift came with a little something for you, too? Gift Card Granny is an online gift card marketplace that helps you do just that. With thousands of vendors to choose from, you can quickly reap the benefits of countless discounts, cash back opportunities, and other rewards.

Plus, Gift Card Granny makes it easy to send a thoughtful gift that’s as good as cash with their Visa gift card builder. Visa gift cards can be used at countless online and brick and mortar locations because they’re accepted anywhere you can use a Visa credit card. Plus, you can customize your gift with your company logo for a polished and professional workplace gift or a photo of your favorite memory for a thoughtful gift any loved one would appreciate.

Build a custom Visa gift card

Keep these tips in mind, and your recipient will be thrilled to receive a gift card from you!

So are gift cards a lazy gift? We certainly don’t think so.

Quite the opposite, actually – gift cards are a great way to support local businesses and give the people who are important to you an excuse to spoil themselves. And who doesn’t need to treat themself every now and then?

We hope this article has answered some of your biggest questions about gift giving and gift card etiquette. Don’t forget, if you’re looking for an easy-to-use digital gift card option, you can check out our full catalog and get to know the thousands of local and national merchants (and counting!) we currently work with. And if you want to save on gift card purchases – whether they’re for yourself or someone you care about – Gift Card Granny is a great place to start.

Either way, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect gift for that birthday, holiday, or personal milestone that you’re shopping for. From all of us at GiftYa, good luck and happy shopping!

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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is the shopping expert here at GiftYa. Trae helps people find the best deals and ideas on popular new items to purchase.

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