Gift card concept. Top view Shop gift cards in shape of present boxes with satin ribbons on bright yellow background. Creative ideas for presents. Flat lay. Holiday sales mockup with copy spaceGift cards, both physical and digital, have become a massive business. So massive that it was projected to rake in USD$160 billion for the American market in 2018 alone. Some researchers attribute this explosion of popularity to the millennial generation’s increasing interest in the retail market—particularly online. However, gift card usage patterns show their popularity is scattered across all ages. 

According to a National Retail Foundation survey, 60% of respondents preferred a gift card to an actual present. Furthermore, gift cards are gradually becoming a more popular choice in weddings, anniversaries, and even workplace birthdays, as recipients can choose their preferred item. This eliminates the fear of buying a present that someone may not need and end up throwing away, simply for the sake of picking something. 

In the case of major retailers like Target, there are plenty of ways to get free target gift cards, such as surveys, apps, and referral programs. So, not only are they considered ideal gifts, but they’re also being used by retailers to reward customers. 

We’ve compiled a list of reasons why gift cards make the ideal present on holidays:


  • Relieve The Pressure Of Shopping


Many people consider holiday financing and gift shopping a major source of stress. Whether it’s the burden of limitless options, budget, or simply lacking the knack to choose appropriate gifts, shopping inevitably leads to last-minute purchases that recipients may not like. This is where gift cards come in. 

With gift cards, you no longer have to wrestle with the burden of choosing the perfect gift. You can focus your energy on other pressing matters and save valuable time.

The anxiety associated with choosing perfect gifts is commonly highest during the holiday season. Susan Newman, a social psychologist, says that choosing the perfect gift isn’t as easy as it seems. She believes it requires, at the very least, a baseline understanding of the recipient’s likes and interests. 

Additionally, the pressure to finalize your choice while you’re on the clock further impacts your decision-making abilities. Rather than letting shopping pressure effect your choices, gift cards will allow the receiver to make a decision that best suits their needs and desires. 

With gift cards, you no longer have to wrestle with the burden of choosing the perfect gift. The upside is you can focus your energy on other pressing matters and save valuable time.


  • People Prefer Gift Cards To Actual Presents


A 2014 survey conducted by Rakuten revealed that almost 75% of Americans would probably be disappointed with actual gifts. While actual presents only have a 25% approval rating, gift cards have a remarkable 37% rating. This demonstrates that allowing people to pick their own gifts is preferable to having one chosen for them. 

To convince you with an anecdote, O Henry’s classic story The Gift of the Magi is an excellent example. In the story, a married couple decide to exchange gifts, despite the fact they were steeped in poverty. The wife didn’t have a dime so she sold her long, luscious hair in exchange for a watch chain. The husband also bartered his only possession—an old pocket watch—to get ornamental hair combs for his wife. This turned out to be a horrible trade, as the wife no longer had hair, and left them with nothing of significance, further exacerbating their financial condition. 

The story is a treasure trove of lessons, but the most relevant one: wouldn’t they have both fared a lot better if they’d simply left the choice up to their partner? 

In 2011, Stanford psychologists Francesca Gino and Francis J. Flynn reported studies that show people are happier with presents they openly asked for than those they did not. The research dug into gift psychology in great detail, and revealed freedom of choice is a major contributive factor to gift appreciation and satisfaction. 

Most of us are unsure what others want even when the person in question is a girlfriend, a sibling, or a close friend. In this case, it’s better to go with a gift card to prevent disappointments from the people you care about, while giving them the freedom to spend their gift vouchers however they wish.


  • Convenience And Flexibility


Beyond enabling the selection of whatever the recipient desires, some gift cards allow flexibility in where the item is purchased from. This choice depends on whether you have an idea of what the receiver would like, or if you’d prefer to give them an amount to spend freely at a store of their choosing. For example, you could buy a voucher for one specific store, or pick up a gift card affiliated with a major bank, which functions as pre-loaded debit card and can be used anywhere, online or in person. 

There are also digital gift cards, for those who may not live close to the recipient, or are environmentally conscious and don’t want to waste plastic. 

Below are some excellent reasons which highlight the convenience and flexibility of gift cards:


  • Customizable Amounts: These days, most stores allow you to choose how much money you’d like to load onto a gift card. This is particularly relevant with digital gift cards.
  • Convenient To Buy: Most gift cards, even physical ones, can be purchased both online and in store, making them super convenient. Some places even offer digital and physical gift cards online; if you’d prefer a real card over a digital one, they’ll ship it to you. All you need is an internet connection, a smartphone, or a computer. 
  • Immediate Delivery: In the case of digital gift cards, most stores will send the voucher immediately after payment, directly to your smartphone via email or SMS. This comes in handy when the person you want to gift the gift card doesn’t live nearby; whatever the circumstances, you won’t have to travel a single mile to deliver the gift card, you can simply forward the email.
  • Safety: One added benefit of digital gift cards is that they can’t be robbed or lost, and are always accessible if you have a smartphone or laptop at hand. You don’t have to worry about making room for them in your wallet or purse. 



  • You Can Easily Stay On Budget


Sometimes, the hardest part of shopping for a loved one is picking a suitable gift within your price range. Often, you may find items that would be perfect, but are too expensive, and end up settling for something less desirable. Or, you may buy the item anyway, and spend the money you need for other things. 

With gift cards, these anxieties are eliminated. You don’t have to stress about spending large amounts just to secure the perfect gift. Instead, you can load a gift card with an amount of your choosing, leaving the recipient to spend it however they please. If they decide on an expensive item, they can chip in the remaining funds themselves. Either way, the decision is no longer on your shoulders.


  • They Can Be Personalized


Some people claim that gift cards are thoughtless and just plain lazy. However, a gift card isn’t impersonal by nature. There are many ways to inject elements of thoughtfulness into them.

For instance, if your friend has a favorite restaurant, you could buy a gift card from there and show you’ve actually put some thought into the gesture. Perhaps you have friends saving for a house; instead of buying them an item they don’t need, you could get them a pre-loaded debit card to spend as they like. Not only does this prevent goods being purchased that’ll go to waste, but it also demonstrates you pay attention to their needs.

If a piece of paper or generic plastic with a dollar amount is too impersonal, some stores will even customize the actual voucher for you, such as by printing a custom image onto it. Other high-end retailers will give you a printed and wrapped envelop.

Other Tips

Before buying a gift card as a present, find out its terms and conditions. Verifying the expiration before purchase is essential, as some cards will expire within 6 months, while others are expiration-date free and can be used any time. Cards with unlimited expiration dates will ensure the recipient can make the most of it. Additionally, find out whether it’s redeemable in-store, online, or both. 

Furthermore, check whether your chosen gift card is store-specific, or whether it’s universally redeemable.

Final Thoughts On Holiday Gifting

The holiday season can be extremely stressful and challenging. It’s important to keep your mind calm and focused to enjoy the holidays to the fullest. Gift cards eliminate the stress of buying for those you love. They make great gifts that provide a host of benefits, from flexibility to customization. With gift cards, you can manage your budget and save time, while still rewarding your loved one with a valuable present they’ll appreciate. 

Don’t worry about being criticized as lazy for giving a gift card. You can easily make them more personal by putting thought into the selection, ensuring your friend or loved one feels appreciated and loved. 

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