Most people that I know think that gift cards are great. I, on the other hand, do not. While the gift is nice and I generally wouldn’t complain or give it back, the one thing that people seem to not realize is that gift cards were invented to lock in money to be spent at the store they were bought from. It’s one of those ideas that seems so cool, but in my opinion just suckers you in to giving specific stores business.
A gift card. While a $100 gift card is still worth $100, it’s ONLY worth $100 at a specific store. Let’s say you don’t like that store all that much, or they don’t have what you want, or something else comes up that you’d like to make a purchase on that isn’t sold at the store you have a gift certificate for. Then forget about that $100.
$100 Cash. It’s good EVERYWHERE, for ANYTHING. It’s even good at the store you considered buying a gift certificate at! It gives the recipient of the gift 100% full flexibility to do whatever they want with it, instead of being locked down to only using it at a specific store.
I’ve heard the argument that goes something like “a gift card shows that you thought about the gift more than cash.” But, if you examine the thoughts involved: Gift Card: “I know this person likes coffee, so I’ll get them a $50 gift certificate to Starbucks”. Cash: “I know this person likes coffee, but they probably like a lot of other stuff too. I’ll give them $50 cash and if they want coffee with it, they can buy coffee, or they can use it for whatever else they want too!” Which one sounds more thoughtful? Yes, the cash thought.
Join me in never buying gift cards! All they do is take cash, which is good everywhere, and make it only valuable at one place. It’s a foolish thing to do with money, and it doesn’t allow the recipient to do with it as they please. Give the gift of cash!