The ideal gift, online gift cards allow the recipient to shop online in their own time, without having to hand over their hard-earned money for their new stash of goodies!
Online gift vouchers are similar to ‘real world’ gift cards. They allow the recipient to go shopping and spend a specified value with a retailer, without having to hand over any of their own cash for their purchase.
How the way they differ is that an online gift voucher rarely takes the form a physical card; instead, it is generally an emailed voucher or PDF that includes a unique code or serial number. The email will include the online voucher’s value and validity period, with information about how to use the gift voucher and relevant Terms and Conditions of Use also provided.
A number of retailers offer online gift vouchers, including Amazon, Booktopia bookshop, Adrenalin, Peter Alexander, Apple stores, Her fashion box, iSubscribe, and even Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s department store.
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How to use an online gift voucher
Easy to buy and easy to redeem, online gift vouchers are very convenient, making them a go-to gift choice for modern shoppers.
Online gift vouchers are purchased online, and can then be delivered electronically to the recipient’s email address or smartphone. Once the recipient receives their online gift voucher, they can usually redeem it online immediately, with any items they purchase shipped out to their nominated address within the following week or two.
With some retailers, it may be possible to purchase a gift voucher online and then take it into one of their ‘bricks and mortar’ locations, to redeem it against a purchase of goods and services made in-store.
Whether the recipient redeems the voucher in-store or online, it’s important to check the terms and conditions that apply. In the event that you want to spend some (or not all) of your gift voucher, most retailers will provide a credit for the remaining balance – but in some cases, you will actually forfeit any remaining value if you don’t spend your gift voucher’s full value in one shop.
Pros and cons
- Ease and convenience. The wonderful thing about buying an online gift voucher is the general ease and accessibility in purchasing them, as you can carefully choose the appropriate gift voucher with no sales pressure – and you don’t even have to leave the house.
- Online gift vouchers can be delivered electronically. This means you can buy an online gift voucher for a recipient virtually anywhere in the world.
- They can be customised. Many online gift vouchers can be tailor-made to suit the recipient, allowing you to add your potential touch to the gift. This could even including company branding, if you’re planning to buy a corporate gift.
- The risk of fraud. Anything purchased online, whether it’s a product or a voucher, has the risk of fraudulence attached to it, as unscrupulous people can and do go to the effort of setting up fake websites to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. Be sure to thoroughly investigate any website you offer your credit card details or personal information to.
- They could get lost or stolen. When a gift card is delivered via electronic transfer, it may not reach its intended target: all it takes is one small typo for the email to go to the wrong email address. Online gift vouchers also have the potential to get lost in the recipient’s junk mail folder. To avoid these complications, consider having the gift voucher delivered to your own email address, for you to personally forward on to your recipient.
Things to consider when buying online gift vouchers
When buying an online gift voucher, it’s crucial that you make sure the company you are buying the gift voucher from is 100% legitimate. There are many slick and sophisticated copycat websites created by online scammers, who use these fake portals to collect credit card numbers from unsuspecting shoppers.
It always pays to do your homework before buying any products or services online, by checking that the website you are visiting is genuine. Some common giveaways of a fake website include poor language and grammar – the telltale signs of a foreign copycat scammer – and requests for personal information that seem out of place (for instance, requesting your password again once you’ve already logged in, or asking for credit card information not normally required, such as your credit card limit).
It’s also important to ensure that the retailer is not in any form of financial hardship, as your online gift voucher may become redundant if the company ceases trading.
Another thing to consider when buying an online gift voucher is that you should always hang on to the purchase receipt, as they often contain a serial number that corresponds to that specific voucher. It’s just another safeguard that could help you to prove your purchase, in case you misplace your online voucher.
Frequently asked questions
- Q. Do online gift vouchers ever expire?
As with gift cards that you buy in a ‘bricks and mortar’ retail store, most online gift vouchers will have an expiry date. This will generally be provided at the time of purchase.
- Q. Does an online gift voucher have to be redeemed online?
This will depend on the retailer. If they also own retail stores in your area, you may be able to spend your online gift voucher in their store, or you may be able to shop online and have the items delivered to their store.
- Q. Can online gift vouchers be used on sale items?
Gift vouchers are generally redeemable for any and all goods and services sold on the selected retailer’s website. Note that in most instances, gift vouchers can not be used to purchase more gift vouchers, nor can they be returned or refunded.
- Q. What happens if I misplace my online gift voucher?
Your online gift voucher acts much like cash, meaning it can be spent by almost anyone who has possession of it. You are responsible for the safekeeping of your online gift voucher at all times so be careful not to lose it, as most retailers will not refund or replace your online gift voucher if it is lost or stolen.
Online gift vouchers represent a quick, convenient and thoughtful way of buying a personalised gift for a friend, colleague or loved one, without having to waste hours at the shops tracking down the perfect gift. They can be redeemed online, thereby offering that same level of convenience and choice to the recipient.