Flights, Travel Gift Cards & Vouchers

Traditionally gift vouchers were reserved for the last-minute shopper (ahem, men on Valentine’s Day), or for the person who has everything, but travel gift cards are a hot item, especially if you’re seeking to give the gift of adventure.

What is a travel gift voucher or travel gift card?

Travel gift cards are becoming increasingly popular for a very good reason; they are easy to purchase, easy to give, and easy to redeem. The cards are bought and used in essentially the same way that common gift cards from restaurants or shops are; they come pre-loaded with funds that are deducted from the gift card balance after it is used.

The balance of the travel gift card doesn’t have to be restricted to flights, but can be used toward various aspects of a trip, including: flights, hotels, excursions, and car rental.

Travel gift vouchers and cards

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Taking the prepaid purchase plunge - How and where to purchase travel gift vouchers and cards

As travel gift vouchers are easy to order online or from an airline or travel agent’s website, buying them from the same rack you bought that birthday card isn’t always a great idea. Although buying the card while you’re in the checkout queue at the supermarket may be incredibly convenient, these cards generally offer a miniscule amount for travelling (often $50 - $200 maximum) and there is always the risk that the cashier may not activate the card properly, which can cause confusion and stress when trying to redeem the card.

The best way to order a gift card is through the website of an airline, travel company, or licensed travel agent. You can specify the amount on the gift card or what the card should be used for, and have the choice to order a plastic, credit card-sized card to be shipped, or an electronic version of the card to be delivered through email. Note that plastic cards can get lost (and often will not be replaced), whereas electronic versions of the gift cards can be printed and presented as gifts and, if they do happen to be misplaced, can be reprinted from the confirmation email sent to your inbox after purchase.

Why use travel gift vouchers? - The benefits of using flight and travel vouchers and gift cards

Taking a trip, whether it’s a full-on adventure or a relaxing beach vacation, is highly coveted at any time of the year, so travel gift vouchers and cards are convenient not only for you as the purchaser, but for the recipient as they can guarantee a well-deserved vacation in the near future – even if the card doesn’t cover the entire cost of the trip.

If the gift voucher is meant to cover an excursion, meals, or the cost of the hotel, this allows a large amount of value to be applied to one card and ensures convenience and safety as the card prevents the recipient from having to carry large amounts of cash.

Many providers of prepaid travel gift vouchers and cards don’t attach fees to the certificates. This allows the user to avoid the costly service fees from using their personal debit or credit cards abroad when purchasing meals or tickets. The flexible nature of the gift card makes using it much like using a credit card; the number can be punched in for validation and can be used to take off to wherever the provider of the card specifies that the certificate will be used. This makes redeeming a travel gift voucher convenient and straightforward, even for those unfamiliar with navigating online travel sites.

How to use your travel gift voucher or travel gift card

Redeeming travel gift vouchers is quite simple; most gift cards, whether they’re plastic card or electronic, come with instructions on how to redeem it for travel expenses. These can be found on or in the envelope (or gift packet for plastic cards), and should be included in the email accompanying the electronic gift card.

If the voucher is for a flight, then it can be used much like a credit card when booking flights through the company that the card is specific to. After the flights have been chosen, there will be a space for a “gift card number” or “coupon code”, and then the gift certificate number (usually on the back of plastic cards, and in plain view on the electronic card) can be punched in and redeemed.

If you’ve decided to buy your aged parents a card for a cruise, then the gift card number can be relayed to a booking agent on the phone if they prefer to book with the aid of a person, as opposed to online. Travel companies, like the Travel Factory, offer vouchers for various travel activities and include redemption instructions upon purchase of the vouchers as well as contact information for customer support for any questions related to the voucher.

If you’ve purchased a gift certificate covering reservations at a destination hotel, then the recipient simply needs to bring the card, or print off the online certificate, and present it to the hotel upon check-in. Some hotels offer gift cards to cover excursions and car rentals through the hotel as well, so the certificate can be presented during check-in, or to the hotel concierge when booking the activity. Gift cards for meals are redeemed as you would a normal restaurant gift card. Of course, the gift certificate can only be redeemed at the corresponding hotel, restaurant, etc.

Why give flight and travel cards and vouchers as gifts

Travel vouchers and prepaid cards for travel expenses are perfect for birthdays and other major events like engagements or weddings because, really, who wants to have to pay for their honeymoon? Although gift cards can seem a bit impersonal or tired, a travel gift card offers a refreshing boost to traditional gift cards because it offers a “down payment”, or starting balance, for a memorable experience and opportunity to explore a dream destination.

As many travel gift vouchers don’t have an expiration date, whomever you have give the card to has time to save up to pay for the remainder of his or her vacation, or even simply just take time to decide where they’d like to go. Travel gift cards are best when given to seasoned travellers or to those who can afford the time and money to travel, although an airline gift card given to a student to cover the cost of a plane ticket home for the holidays would be incredibly thoughtful and appreciated, too.

As travel gift cards and vouchers can be loaded to cover a myriad of travel-related expenses, travel gift vouchers can be tailored to the recipient’s travel preferences: a gift card for cruising can be purchased if they love taking cruises, or, if they are travelling foodies, gift cards for local restaurants in a specific destination can be available. This would be ideal for the aspiring world traveller or for someone who’s already planned a trip, but needs a little extra to get there, or some extra dollars for hotel reservations, or excursions.

Many airline and travel companies allow for different shipping options when it comes to sending the gift card. Some provide you the option of purchasing an attractive gift card packet to be sent, while others allow a greeting card to be bought and sent with the gift voucher. Most companies that let you buy the certificate online will prompt you for the email address of the recipient, and allow you to select a time and date for the email to be sent, which is convenient if it’s for a birthday or time-sensitive event. Many gift givers prefer to have the voucher sent to their email where they can print it off to place into a greeting card of their own choosing for better presentation.

Things to consider when buying a flight and travel gift voucher or card

As a gift voucher for travel is often a substantial purchase, you should consider a few things when deciding where to buy.

First, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll be buying a plastic or an electronic card. As previously mentioned, some prefer to buy the card online so that, even if it does get lost, another card can be downloaded from the recipient’s email inbox and printed for use. It is never guaranteed that a plastic card, if lost, will be replaced.

Make a point to read (and re-read if necessary) the terms and conditions attached to the gift card and always check for an expiration date if the card has one. If you have questions regarding the terms and conditions, you can call the Customer Support number, which is usually located on the back of the card or on the provider’s website.

The gift voucher provider should be reputable, especially if you are buying a card to cover airline tickets. If you have a preference for an airline because of your own personal experience, still research what others say about the airline and use a gift card with that airline in particular. Researching the frequency of flights and what major airports the airline flies in and out of is a good idea, too.

If in doubt, you can always ask the recipient’s family and friends if he or she has a preferred airline and check out that airline, too. To make an informed decision that benefits both you and the recipient, look out for hidden fees and charges that the airline can potentially deduct from the gift card balance.

Alex Bruce-Smith

Alex Bruce-Smith is a publisher at, taking care of shopping & travel. She funds her addiction to online shopping by hunting coupon codes like a pro, and can usually be found waiting anxiously for a package to arrive. #notevensorry

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