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A Gift Card Can Be a Great Gift

Gift CardsGiving a gift card or a gift certificate is sometimes seen as the gift of last resort.  Gifts are given on special occasions reflecting special days like birthdays and anniversaries or special accomplishments like graduation.  We want the gift to be special too and gift cards are sometimes associated with lack of thought.  Though that may be the case for some that is not always the case.  Gift cards are great when the person involved is hard to shop for or you have a certain item in mind that they may want to pick themselves. 


Some items that fall into this category are:

  • Computers
  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Music
  • Perfume

So you can see that a gift card or gift certificate may actually be the best and most thoughtful gift of all.

What is a gift card?

Some people may not be familiar with what a gift card is.  It is hard to escape them though since they are usually available everywhere you shop from your bookstore to your grocery store.  The gift card itself is a plastic card that looks like a credit card with a magnetic strip to be used to track the amount of money put on the card and what has been spent.  They are available at many stores and restaurants.  They can also be issued by banks or credit card companies like American Express and Visa.

What is a gift certificate?

A gift certificate is similar to the gift card in that you are given an amount that can be used at a specific store or restaurant.  These are typically used by smaller businesses who don't want to put a card process in place.  They can be printed off of a computer and for best results have a tracking number to track its use and expiration.  Gift certificates are more associated with restaurants.  Online retailers like ITunes and Amazon also offer them when you are buying online and need a short turnaround time.  Though you can buy ITunes gift cards at retailers like BestBuy and Costco you don't see Amazon gift cards being sold that way yet.  They have even made it possible to send someone a gift certificate via email

A nice touch that I have used in the past is making home made gift certificates for my husband on Father's Day.  You can use a basic editing program on your computer like Word to print out gift certificates for personal things like:

This Certificate entitles the Holder to:

  • A Weekend Off of Family Duties to be used on the weekend of your choice.
  • A Shopping Trip with Your Mom with a budget of $xxx

I am sure you could come up with better, more personal ideas for your loved ones.

A note about the fine print:

Keep in mind that every store, business and bank have their own rules when it comes to gift cards and gift certificates.  Some things to look out for:

  • Expiration Dates:  Make sure you understand what the expiration dates are and that they are clear to the person you are giving the gift card to.
  • Charges for purchase:  Some places charge you a fee for the purchase of a gift card particularly those that are bank issued or credit card issued.
  • Charges for non-use:  Some organizations like malls issue cards that get charged if they are not used within a given period so the value of the card keeps dropping until it is basically worthless.

How to present your gift card or gift certificate?present your gift

Though you may be giving them the best gift.  Sometimes handing over a card may seem like a boring and dry gift idea.  You want to make a good impression so how do you dress it up? 


Here are some choices:

  • Go all out on the greeting card for the occasion.  Pick one that is personal and that you write a true/heartfelt message in it.
  • Wrap it in a nice box.  You may even want to put it in some small nested boxes(box within a box within a box...).
  • If you have a specific gift in mind like a computer, wrap the card in a printed picture of one...

Historically I have bought cards for Amazon and ITunes if I couldn't get a more personal or specific one...

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