Thoughtful Giving Just Got Easier: How to Choose the Best Gift Card for Any Occasion

Gift Cards: A Quick Guide

Gift cards are a popular way to show appreciation and provide an easy way to give a gift without worrying about sizing or item preferences. Gift cards provide unique features and benefits, and are a great way for companies and individuals to bestow gifts.

Plastic gift cards, like credit and debit cards, use plastic cards with magnetic strips on the back, embedded chips, and sometimes holograms or other security features. They can be used in various ways, from physical redemptions at stores to online stores, online gaming accounts, and even as loyalty or rewards cards. Here are some features, benefits, pros, and cons of plastic gift cards.

  • Accepted anywhere that accepts credit or debit cards or gift card payments.
  • Can be used for purchases in person or online
  • Physical cards are durable, tangible gifts
  • Gift cards can be customized with images, messages, or company logos

  • Cost effective no need to worry about size or item choice
  • Provides an easy way to give gifts
  • Can be used as loyalty or reward cards
  • Can be easily tracked and monitored


  • Flexibility no need to worry about picking the right item or size
  • Widely accepted can be used almost anywhere
  • Secure can use special passwords and other security features to protect against fraud or misuse


  • Not accepted everywhere make sure to check local stores first
  • May have expiration dates or inactivity fees associated with the cards

Case Study 1: A small business that sells custom-printed gift cards to its customers wanted to provide them with a way to easily track the usage and purchase history of the cards. They implemented a secure, easy-to-use gift card tracking system that allowed customers to check their balance, view purchase history, and easily redeem dollars on the card.

Case Study 2: A large national chain of retail stores wanted to implement a loyalty program that would reward customers for their purchases. The company created a plastic gift card that could be used at any of their stores and that rewarded customers with money-off rewards based on their purchase history.

Case Study 3: A company that owns several online gaming sites wanted to give its customers an easy way to purchase credits to use in the sites. They launched a plastic gift card program where customers could buy gift cards from local stores and then use the gift cards to purchase credits on the site.

  • Are gift cards recyclable?

    • Yes, if they are plastic cards they can be recycled, depending on local laws.

  • How do I check my gift card balance?

    • You can usually check your balance online through the company's website or customer service department.

  • Do I have to pay a fee to get a gift card?

    • It depends on the company some companies charge a fee for activation or maintenance of the gift card.

  • Not checking the expiration date
  • Assuming all plastic gift cards are the same make sure to check the policies
  • Not checking local laws some states have regulations on gift cards
  • Not keeping track of the balance and purchases losing track of the balance can lead to overspending or leaving unused balances

  • Check the expiration date
  • Check local laws for regulations on gift cards
  • Keep a record of your balance and purchases
  • Report lost, stolen, or damaged cards immediately
  • Redeem any unused cards or balances

In conclusion, plastic gift cards are a popular and versatile way to give a gift. They provide features, benefits, and have some pros and cons to consider. Case studies and best practices help illustrate how companies and individuals can use gift cards. Be sure to check expiration dates, local laws, and keep track of balances and purchases.