Please be thoughtful when purchasing store gift cards for others. Generally they're a great idea, but keep in mind they cannot be turned in at the store for cash. Be sure the card is from a store that the giftee actually shops at and that isn't going to move or close or go out of business within the next year. Also, check for any expiration dates and fees that reduce the amount on the card.
I agree entirely! Recently, we received a gift certificate to Black Angus restaurant as a going away present from a job. The problem is that the closest restaurant was almost an hour from our home. It took us over 6 months to use the certificate and the hassle certainly left a cloud over the gift.
Many gift cards start to lose value if not used in a timely fashion. I think that there are certain states that have made this illegal but not all. If you are unaware and save it, you could be left with nothing when you do go try to use it.
I really like to give bookstore gift cards or online certificates to things like Amazon.com. I always try to add a little bit extra to help offset any shipping charges. Another way is to give a Visa gift card that works just like money anywhere.
There's an interesting article with ideas for what to do with unwanted gift cards at http://www.giftcardnexus.com/content/view/5007/2/ .
But still--where's the "gift" in an exchange of cards? At my son's 16th birthday party, every single friend gave him a greeting card containing either cash or a gift card. Not that he minded directly, but no one put any thought into handing over a fixed sum of money. On their birthdays, the expectation may well be that he'll simply give the money back, accomplishing nothing in particular.
It's so nice to watch someone important to you unwrap a thoughtfully selected gift, lighting up gleefully as s/he discovers something unexpected but exciting. It's also fun to unwrap such a gift yourself, realizing that you now have something you may never have thought to get for yourself, but absolutely love now that you have it! And, every time you see or use the gift, you're reminded of the giver. Homemade items, flea market or clearance rack finds, or expensive and convenience-ordered--the price isn't what matters a bit, because it's a *gift*. But when cards or cash are exchanged, there's nothing but the price. How sad!
There are a lot of places on the internet where you can swap or cash in your unused gift cards. Google a search of "gift card swap" and a bunch of sites show up. I've never done this but a friend of mine did and swapped her card for another that she wanted.
I have two teen boys and as much as I encourage them to get the "thoughtfully purchased gift" , they are loath to do so. l. They don't want to. 2. It is uncool. 3. everyone else is gifting with either cold cash 4. they say that's what the birthday kid wants.
Boys seem to like accumulating cash. So far, the boys have agreed with giving cash or a gift card (from their friend's fav eat out fast food) or both! The thoughtful part is attaching it to a large candy bar or big box of candy (ie skittles,airheads etc). Teen boys aren't very sentimental about giving gifts to each other!
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