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Gift Certificates / Gift Cards

by Ira Lanes
June 02, 2009
What do you give a friend or family member who has everything? What do you give someone who is very picky about anything and everything? Do you find it hard to think of what present to give? Does an occasion merit a present but you don't know what a proper gift would be? Gift certificates or gift cards may be the right choice for you.

Gift certificates and gift cards are very convenient to give away. For some, this is perfect as a present. The recipient can choose an item to their satisfaction. This means that they receive the perfect gift every time. Some people find shopping for a present very stressful as they can never think of a present for a special person, family member or friend. Being able to choose the appropriate present requires a bit of skill and thought.

Gift certificates and gift cards can mean the same thing. However, there are certain gift cards that can be used with many non-affiliated sellers of various goods and products.

There may be occasions when you simply do not know a person well enough to make a good gift choice. An office holiday party may be one of these occasions. You pick names out of a hat to exchange gifts with and you end up with someone you don't know. Since these type of gift exchanges usually have a dollar minimum to make the exchange fair to everyone, you can give a gift card or certificate worth the minimum or more and not have to worry that your gift is all wrong.

Another plus of giving gift certificates and gift cards is that you don't go over your budget. Sometimes, in your quest for the perfect gift, you end up going over your predetermined budget. This can damage the budget you have set for gift giving this year. To avoid shortchanging the rest of the people on your list, you can go with a gift certificate for the people who are more difficult to choose presents for. Of course, you can also just choose to get gift certificates for everyone.

Another beautiful aspect that gift certificates and gift cards have is their lack of an expiration date. Coupon codes and promo codes often have expiry dates printed on them. Gift certificates and cards do not. You can present someone with a gift card and need not worry that they have to choose an item or service by a specific date. The service or item may be redeemed at any convenient time. Generally speaking, there are no dormancy fees, too.

The recipient may prefer cash instead of a certificate. In this case, the policy of the issuer will come into play. Issuers are not required to provide cash for the certificate but they are required to honor the gift card. If the gift card is for establishments, services or goods that the cardholder does not use, exchanging the certificate for cash may be possible. Again, this depends on the policy of the seller.

If you can pair your gift certificate or card with discount codes, you can stretch the value of your card even further. This may depend on the policy of the merchant though so be sure to check first.

All in all, gift certificates and gift cards are very convenient for both the giver and the recipient. In some cases, they are entirely appropriate.

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