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You Take: Why Do People Like Gift Cards?

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Gift CardsI think gift cards are stupid. But, rather than rehash why I dislike them (here’s a quick recap: you are forced to use them at a store, companies screw you with fees and expirations, easy to misplace or lose, and aren’t that much more “thoughtful” than cash), I’m curious to hear the pro-gift card folks out there on why they like them?

For the pro-gift carders, do you like giving them or receiving them? I can understand why people would like giving them – it shows you know the person a little bit, at least you know where they like to shop, but doesn’t force them into a particular item.

On the flip side, I cannot understand why someone would rather receive a gift card from store XYZ instead of cash. You can use cash to buy whatever you want wherever you want. You can use cash to pay off debts, you can use cash to light your cigars… you can’t do any of that with gift cards. If you’re pro-gift cards… please share with me your perspective.

After saying all that, we buy gift cards because that’s become the accepted norm. For wedding gifts, if we can’t find anything on the list because all the good stuff has been bought or because we were simply too slow, we get a gift card from the store where the registry is held. If it were up to me, I’d do the Chinese custom of giving money in a lucky red envelope.

(Photo: smcgee)

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31 Responses to “You Take: Why Do People Like Gift Cards?”

  1. Jackson says:

    Is giving cash only considered tacky in American culture?

    What about South America or the various European countries?

    Because in Chinese culture (and I would assume other Asian cultures), giving cash is perfectly normal, and also the preferred gift.

    In fact we have these nice little red envelopes to put the money in.

  2. It’s better than getting a gift that I don’t want or can’t use. Our society hasn’t seemed to move to the point where giving cash is acceptable. Plus if someone gives you $25 in cash, what are you going to do, give them $25 back? More? Less? It’s a no-win situation.


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