Gift Cards..Waste of Money? Or the perfect Solution?


I have a love/hate relationship with gift cards. This is due to the fact that there are two sides of the Mrs. It's time you knew. I'm an New York/Southerner.

I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and lived there are few years, and have family there, but I spent most of my life growing up in and around New York. I think it has resulted in a somewhat strange outlook on life.

For example:

I live for monograms, children dressed in smocked clothing, china, silver, spending time with family, scrap booking, thank you notes, real paper invitations and the country.
BUT...
I love the city, I'm a foodie, love the fast paced life and quick wit of New Yorkers, and am a Type A doer. I like to drive fast, get it done, and can be pushy.


You can see how this personality might hate a gift card. "How impersonal? How thoughtless? How tacky!!!"
Or...
Might love one. "How easy! How perfect a solution? Done!"

I had always heard that gift cards were not a good idea to give people because financially it did not make sense. Then I saw this article below. Oh Boy. I think it's just going to be a hate relationship...

"Five reasons to avoid gift cards this holiday season

* by Laura Rowley
If you're thinking about giving gift cards for the holidays, it may be worthwhile to look at the findings of a recent poll by Consumer Reports on holiday shopping. A couple of facts jumped off the page:

1) Most people don't want them: While 46 percent of people plan on buying gift cards, only 15 percent said they want to receive them as gifts.

2) A quarter of people haven't used the ones they got last December: During the 2008 holidays, about half of adults received a gift card, but one in four hadn't redeemed at least one of the cards as of last month.

3) They encourage overspending: Sixty-five percent of adults who received a gift card in 2008 typically spend more than the value of the card, up from 58 percent in 2007.

4) Store-specific cards may limit gift choices: Forty-one percent of those who have unused gift cards from last year said that they hadn't found anything they wanted to buy.

5) Many cards carry fees: Consumers may have to pay an upfront fee to purchase a card, but there are also monthly "inactivity" fees that can slash the value of the card if the recipient doesn't use it within a specific time frame."

What do you think? Do you give gift cards?

15 comments:

Sherrie said...

I LOVE to get gift cards, but I also can be bad about actually spending them. The thing I like is that I will buy something with a giftcard that I would never purchase outright. I always want Williams-Sonoma GCs and never get them. I cannot justify spending $300 on a Le Crueset pan, but now if I received a GC I could totally justify it. I know it sounds strange, but I am so picky and usually buy myself things I want that I have a hard time making a list of things I want. We do Christmas lists on my side of the family and honestly I would prefer GCs over other things.

As a teacher I love getting GCs!

debra said...

I personally don't mind getting gift cards. Right now, I don't have any unused ones- kind of wish I did though. :) I give them sometimes -we pick names at Christmas with my husband's family and we will often give at least one gift card out of the 3 names that we pick. It's easier for us since we don't know all the spouses/kids very well. But I often feel like I am taking the easy way out. We try to do cards for restaurants or somewhere like Best Buy for the older kids.

Melissa said...

I love gift cards and ask for them at holiday time because I'd rather buy myself something I actually like instead of someone wasting their money on something I don't want/can't use. I don't typically give gift cards to people unless I know for a fact they want one, or they are saving up for something at a particular store and I want to help them get it.

Poolside with the Girls said...

Hey! I didn't know you lived in NY. Me too!

I hate getting gift cards. I can't tell you how many I've lost or misplaced or just flat out didn't use ($15 to some odd ball store, nah)

Not that I don't appreciate the thought. I do, but I also own a gift store (or 3) so I am a gift lover. Can't give a gift card, unless of course someone specifically asks for one ...say for a wedding gift and they register for one. Then all bets are off. Good post!!

Lin said...

I LOVE gift cards! I love receiving them & I love giving them. I'm horribly forgetful so it's an easy gift for me to pick up when I forget about someone's b-day or anniversary.

I think they're great & I've never had any complaints from anyone I've given them to. I'm actually planning on buying a couple as Christmas gifts :)

KatieSPerk said...

I understand what you are saying. My mother refuses to do gift cards. But they are perfect for my nieces & nephews once they have gotten too old for me to pick out gifts for. ( I am sooo not cool according to them) But I love a gift card because I usually can use it for After Christmas Sales!! As long as it is to a store I frequently use.

Brie said...

Oh, I don't care for the "conditions" some hold and will make sure to ask their policy b/f I get one. I do however LOVE LOVE LOVE getting one to a favorite store! I have a special plastic pouch that I keep in the cabinent over the phone to hold all the gift cards/certs so I don't lose them. I typically do not give them however - with the exception of Sephora for my sister

MommyK said...

I don't give cards that carry fees. But I love to get gift cards, and I give them often because I know a lot of people who are A--picky about stuff B--hard to shop for C--like to shop or D--all of the above. I think the trick is making sure the gift card you give is appropriate for the person. I'd never use a Starbucks gift card because I don't drink coffee, but cards to Target or Old Navy are always a hit.

bloggerprotectionprogram said...

I always lose gift cards so I don't like to receive. I give small amount gc for the children's bus driver, etc. because I think they would rather have several cups of coffee from dunkin donuts instead of another mug/candle. Babysitters love gc to their favorite stores b/c I think if you just give them extra cash they just use towards their bills.

Preppy Lizard said...

I too love getting gift cards so I can get exactly what I want and not have to deal with the return hassles after the holidays. But at the same time I do feel they are alittle impersonal so I don't give them all that often.

Kate said...

I don't like them. I think they say "I don't really care enough about you to pick out a thoughtful gift. In addition, I am lazy." So, I don't bother to redeem most of them anyway. My husband thinks I am ridiculous.

Maureen said...

Receiving gift cards stresses me out. I have two Ritz Carlton gift certificates that are long expired, two Red Door gift certificates, and at least two restaurant gift certificates. It's awful. I know. The only gift certificates I use are for the stores I frequent regularly - Target, grocery store, Williams Sonoma.... If I don't shop there regularly, it's hard to use it.

The 5 Bickies said...

I think there is a time and place for a gift card. I definitely have several floating around in my wallet. The retailer really makes out when there is a small balance on the card left after your purchase and you just forget about it. I like to give food/coffee/book store gift cards best!

Buford Betty said...

There's a reason why the gift card industry is SO huge... so many dollars put on cards go unspent. I'm not a huge fan of them and only give them as gifts when they're specifically requested.

Though I do love receiving very practical giftcards - like for the grocery or Target where I can get stuff I really need. Otherwise, like you mentioned - it's an invitation to overspend on stuff I don't need!

Kate said...

I very rarely give gift cards. Every once in awhile as an add-on to a teen gift I will throw in a Blockbuster or Starbucks gift card (like for our babysitter, my nephews, etc.). If I can add it as a thoughtful touch to a more personal gift, I will - otherwise I avoid them unless it has been specifically requested.