What is the gift for the person who already has everything? Giving the gift of choice, of course!
A gift card makes the perfect gift when you’re not quite sure if a traditional gift will be appropriate. It’s either, you are not sure what to purchase or you are short on time. Gift cards come in all shapes and sizes, but the most common is a plastic card of about the same size as a credit card, and is often used as an alternative to a credit card, debit card, or cash.
How do gift cards work?
Gift cards can be purchased in a pre-packaged envelope, or can come as an individual card which you can place in a gift box or greeting card. The gift card is purchased with a particular value attached to it (often of your choosing) and can be spent at the specified store or service provider. If no retailer is designated, then it can be spent wherever the recipient chooses (so long as they accept card as a form of payment). Most gift cards have a magnetic stripe, which is swiped through the register much like a credit or debit card in regular transactions.
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Where to get gift cards
|As the top online international retailer of books and electronics, you can find almost anything on Amazon. Gift card denominations can be purchased from $0.15 - $2,000.||Macy’s is an American department store that sells clothing, accessories, home goods, and jewellery, among others. Items and gift cards can be ordered off of the website and shipped internationally, including Australia.||Styletread is an online Australian shoe store based out of Sydney. Retailing the largest collection of footwear from Australian and international designers, Styletread has gift cards available for purchase in multiple denominations.|
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|Apple is one of the most world-famous retailers of technology, selling the wildly popular iPhones, iPods, and iPads. Gift cards can be purchased in denominations of $25 - $2,000.||A U.K.-based unisex selling the latest trends in clothing, fashion accessories, and beauty, ASOS ships to various locations in Europe and Australia.||Urban Outfitters is a fashion store with numerous locations throughout Europe and North America, offering competitive shipping prices to Australia and New Zealand.|
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|An Australian online bookstore that also offers a physical location in Sydney, Booktopia has a large selection of books and eBooks that can be shipped worldwide.||Hurtle Gear is Australia’s leading retailer of extreme sports cameras and video capture equipment offering high-quality brands with inexpensive price tags.||Kitchenware Superstore is Australia’s top retailer of kitchenwares and other kitchen necessities, carrying high-end, high-quality brands at competitive prices.|
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|Topman offers high-end fashion for young men from high-end designers. With pieces ranging from casual to formal, Topman has everything in style for the fashion-conscious male.|
Left gift buying to the last minute? Buy one of these online gift vouchers:
How to get gift cards
Gift cards can be purchased at the selected retailer’s physical store location or on the company’s online store. Many stores, like groceries or clothing shops, place gift cards right by the cash register for convenience and for quick purchases when you are in a rush. Some retailers, as part of a chain, allow gift cards to be bought and used at multiple store locations, often in different cities or countries depending on the chain.
The best way to find a gift card is to decide which company you’ll be buying from, and this will depend on the interests and likes of the recipient of the gift card. You can also base your decision on your own personal experiences with the company you may be considering. If you are buying a gift card to a high-end fashion store in a large mall, you may want to consider buying a prepaid gift card from a credit card company, or a gift certificate from that particular mall that can be used in any store.
Tips to using and maximising gift cards<
Maximising the use of the gift card purchase means making as much value last for as long as possible. This can be achieved by checking if the card has an expiration date, if it has any fees, and if it can be reloaded. If the card has no expiration date or fees, there is no limit as to how many transactions the card can be used for until the balance is used up. You may also be able to use the gift card with a coupon or another voucher to the retailer, saving money and allowing the balance of the gift card to be spent on other items. Some international retailers do not allow this, however, so be sure to check the terms and conditions of use, usually located on the back of the gift card.
Many merchants allow their gift cards and vouchers to be purchased in various denominations. Amazon gift cards, for instance, can be purchased for as low as $0.15 all the way up to $2,000. Make sure to select a denomination with a reasonable gift amount as you wouldn’t want to buy a $10 gift card to Amazon when the books that you believe the recipient of the card will be buying are $20 and over.
Why gift cards make great gifts
Gift cards are available from most major merchants, so finding a gift card that fits with the recipient’s interests is no longer a difficult task. You can buy a gift card for what the recipient loves, like books, movies, or even travelling, and provide the funds to indulge in his or her passions. This awards the recipient a large number of choices.
For instance, if your loved one is obsessed with fashion, then you wouldn’t go out and buy a pair of jeans as a gift because that particular pair may not have been what he or she would choose to wear. With a gift card, you are still buying that pair of jeans while allowing the recipient the freedom to choose and purchase the type of slacks that suits his or her fashion sense or style. This will prevent any stress that may result from buying a traditional gift. Your loved one may also feel guilty admitting that they do not like the gift and want to return it. You may consider just giving cash as a gift, although selecting a gift card for a particular merchant that aligns with the recipient’s interests gives the gift certificate a personal touch. This also cuts back on the chance that large amounts of cash get lost or take up too much wallet space.
Some gift cards do not have expiry dates, so there is no pressure on the recipients to buy something for themselves quickly. Some retailers, like Amazon, allow you to design your own gift card on their website. You can add personal photos to the front of gift cards to be printed electronically or on a plastic card that can be delivered. Amazon also includes the option to send the gift card in a sleek, black gift box or within a personalised greeting card that you can write the greeting and even ‘sign’ electronically, adding that extra bit of effort and thoughtfulness.
Things to consider when purchasing gift cards
When purchasing gift cards, whether it be online or in-store, always make sure to check the terms and conditions. You can find these listed at the back of plastic cards and they should be displayed on the print-out of an e-card or sent in the accompanying email. The terms and conditions should cover things like:
- The expiration date, if applicable
- If any fees are deducted for using the gift card
- Where the gift card can be used (if purchased for a chain of stores)
- Customer service contact numbers
- What to do if the card happens to get lost
- The website of the retailer
The first thing that you should be checking for is the expiration date. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) lists several requirements that gift cards must comply with, including:
- The expiry date must be clearly displayed
- The gift card must be able to be used more than once
- The gift card cannot be reloaded
- No gift card can be redeemed for cash unless the remaining amount on the card cannot be ‘conveniently used’
Try to pick a gift card that relates to what he or she is interested in, or buy a gift card that you know will be used well, like a gift card to the grocers or a relaxing spa experience.
The benefits of using gift cards
There are many reasons why buying gift cards for gifts work, but they also work for personal use. First, many gift cards do not expire, so there is no rush to spend the balance available, giving the recipient more time to think about the ideal item or service to purchase with the gift card. The cards can be used more than once, allowing the freedom to use the card’s balance for multiple products over multiple transactions. Thanks to the internet, you can order your gift card online and personalise it if you wish, then arrange to have it sent out via post, email, or even over Facebook for maximum convenience.
Gift cards are also a great tool for maintaining a budget for kids and students. They can be bought for groceries, petrol, or other monthly expenses to help control the amount spent while also avoiding interest and service fees that can accrue if using your debit or credit card. Gift cards also take away the need to carry around so much cash, as they fit nicely into your wallet without making it too bulky and uncomfortable to keep in your pocket. Of course, if you were to buy a gift card for every monthly expense, it may take up more room, but gift cards are handy for personal use when coming to larger purchases such as petrol or food.
Convenient, easy to use, and readily available almost anywhere for almost anything, gift cards and vouchers are the perfect way, whether you want to let a loved one know that you care, say “thank you” to a friend or neighbour, or use them as a tool to help you cut down on using your credit or debit card so you could stick to your monthly budget.