So I just recently heard that gift cards are crappy gifts, is this true?

I always thought gift cards were great gifts. If you gave me a gift card to a place I liked, I’d think it was probably the best gift I’d gotten that month.

But I recently heard and read people actually complaining about gift cards as gifts. I seem to remember hearing it compared to the gift you get for someone if you don’t know them very well or if you don’t know what to get them or if you’re too lazy to go out and get a real gift.

Buh? I enjoy getting gift cards even for people I know well (and know very well what they like). To me, a gift card is like letting someone have a free shopping spree in their favorite store. “Here, take this cart and fill it up with anything you want and all that stuff is free.”

How’d they get such a bad rep as a gift? Or have you not heard how they’re supposedly a bad gift as much as I have?

I imagine the deal here must be something along the lines of “It’s the thought that counts” vs. “It’s the money that counts”

How many of you, as kids in grammar school, had sessions where you made your own hand-made greeting cards, holiday cards, and the like? We somehow had it drummed into us that this was much more sincere than some smarmy store-boughten card.

Giving someone outright cash as a gift strikes me as somehow being the polar opposite of the “home-made gift”. What store-boughten gift could compare with the HAND-CROCHETED comforter that your Aunt Elsie* made? Going to the store and buying a gift to give falls in between. Giving a gift card, I suppose, might be seen as substantially equivalent to plain old cash, only worse, because you can’t even go out and spend it wherever you want.

Just my WAG two shekels worth here.

  • Yes I really had an Aunt Elsie and she really made hand-crocheted comforters.

Senegoid is right. Gift cards are bad gifts because the etiquette set say they’re bad gifts.

If you know the person you’re giving it to would like a gift card (and that’s the majority today), give it with pride. They’ll love the shopping trip, I guarantee.

I always lose them or misplace them, so for me they’re bad. But that’s my fault, not the giver.

In some states where it’s not prohibited, gift cards have a service fee, a monthly fee, a you-haven’t-used-this-card-in-a-while fee, and an expiration date. A recipient who doesn’t use the card promptly can find out a lot of the value has melted away.

Many states now have laws that prohibit that sort of thing, but I think giving cash is still the least hassle for, and the kindest to the recipient. I’ve gotten gift cards for stores I didn’t really want anything from, and ended up buying something there that was at a much higher price than another store, or something that was less than ideal, when cash would’ve solved that problem. Especially if I really wanted to pay a bill with it instead of buying stuff.

So I don’t give gift cards anymore, just cash, though the greeting card containing the money might suggest what I think they want to spend it on. But they are free to do what they want with cold, hard cash.

Yep, just give the “Universal Gift Certificate”.


What rock have you been living under that this is news to you?

Whether a gift card is a good idea depends heavily on the recipient and the store. For me, most gift cards would rather suck because going shopping for anything but craft supplies isn’t a treat; it’s at best a necessary job like housework and at worst an exercise in annoyance and frustration. Getting me a gift card to most places would be more “Merry Christmas! You get to waste your time doing something you hate because I’m too lazy to pick anything out for you!” Gee, thanks, you shouldn’t have. Really.

This is why I only give gifts when it’s not expected of me to do so (i.e. holidays). Any gift you get that’s not durring a special time when you’re supposed to get them means so much more, it means you weren’t just thinking about the season, you were thinking specifically about the person. It speaks more than a thousand words, it speaks millions :D…try it some time, I dare you :).

You mean gift cards to stores you wouldn’t go to on your own, right CCL? Because if it’s something I need to get anyway, then the gift card means that at the very least, I don’t have to spend “my” money.

I like 'em. The fact that some people like me enough to give me something on my birthday and Christmas is all the warm fuzzies I really need. The form that gift takes is really less important to me. But if you give me cash, it will most likely get spent on bills.

It sounds terrible to say, but most non-cash/gift card gifts wind up being a waste of time, money, effort, and space to me. Few people know my tastes, interests, or what I need, and I don’t like clutter, so a lot of non-cash/gift card gifts tend to be things I don’t like or want and get trashed or donated.

Friends, family, and heck, even my landlord have given me gift cards to merchants they know I like or will find useful. As long as you know what your recipient likes or needs, gift cards are fine.

I think the dislike for them is the “you didn’t care enough to go pick something out yourself” thing.

I love gift cards. I’m old enough that I don’t need or have room for more “stuff”, unless it’s scrapbooking stuff. So a card to a resturant or a craft store is wonderful to me. One sister in law always gives me a Bath and Body Works card - I love their products but won’t spend the money for them myself. I go to the after Christmas sale and stock up.

They can backfire if you don’t know what the receipent likes, but that can be said of any gift.

The only thing better than a gift card is cash. There’s nothing anyone can pick out with me in mind that I’ll like better than what I pick myself - especially when it comes to clothes or other items to do with personal aesthetics.

I hate getting presents I don’t really like and having to keep/use them out of guilt.

Thankfully I either tell people exactly what to get me, or I get gift cards or cash. This is why they’re my friends.

I got a gift card for Long’s Drugs once. Sure, I got some stuff that I needed, but as a “birthday gift”, it lacked a certain pizazz.

Man, I love reading and have gotten (from family and friends) many giftcards as gifts in the past to bookstores (like Barnes and Noble) and I love 'em. Like Inner Stickler said, it’s basically paying for me to get anything I want in a store I love. I guess I’m in the minority, then.
For the record, mind you, I’m not talking about totally random gift cards that people get you, like, to K-Mart. I’m talking about very specific ones that cater to interests you especially enjoy…like a music store gift card if you love music or a gift card for a video store if you’re a huge movie buff or, like I usually get, a bookstore gift card if you love reading.

When I give gift cards, I usually only give them if I know a person has a very specific enjoyment for a specific store that sells a specific thing (like a Starbucks gift card for people who love that place).

But when I read on various places that people frown on ANY kind of gift card, I started to wonder.
I guess I should be changing my gift-giving.

I hate gift cards - I’d rather receive no gift.

A gift card has a visible dollar value - when I return the favor of a gift I now know roughly what to spend on them (as close to what they spent on me as possible). If they give me a gift card then I’m less inclined to think seriously about a real gift so will likely reciprocate with a gift card to a different store for the same amount of money. Now - we’ve both broken even monetarily but we’re not better off because we’re compelled to shop someplace we may have no interest in. Instead of the back and forth why don’t you just keep your cash and I’ll keep mine.

To echo the sentiments of most of the responders in this thread, “it depends.”

For me, gift cards aren’t a good gift because I don’t like shopping. I don’t like getting a gift that makes me do something I don’t enjoy. A lot of people love shopping. To tell them they can go to their favorite store and spend someone else’s money is pure heaven.

A carefully-chosen gift card can still work for me, though. For example, my in-laws from California gave me a Radio Shack gift card last year for the cost of a USB turntable. They knew I wanted one, but wanted to let me pick my own model. The Radio Shack is just half a block away from my bookstore, so it was easy and quick. That was a great gift.

The worst gifts, however, are gift cards to the wrong store. Someone gave me an Amazon gift card as a thank you a few years back. Seriously? They know I own a bookstore. Who gives an Amazon gift card to a bookstore owner? Similarly, I got a Starbucks gift card from a friend last year. Why is that a problem? Because (a) the nearest Starbucks is an hour’s drive from here and (b) I detest coffee–I can’t even stand the smell of a Starbucks.

Honestly, I love gift cards. Especially for food places, like Subway or wherever. It kinda helps me “direct” where the money goes, if it had been just a cash gift. I don’t really take offense at the “you didn’t put much thought into this!” Right now, I like practicality in gifts, instead of some random, odd thing I probably won’t use–like bath beads or something else generically girly, for instance.

And give me a Barnes and Noble giftcard, and you’ll likely enable me to get books or piano music that I’ve been longing for for ages :smiley:

Wow, I don’t think I’ve heard someone refer to Amazon as an online bookstore in nearly a decade. You must have been really pissed not to realize they sell practically every item in existence. :wink:

To booksellers, Amazon is Satan. Just because they decided to go into other lines of business, too, doesn’t suddenly make them all right.

I love getting gift cards if the person put a little thought into it.

I love to knit, crochet and do other crafty stuff. It’s my main hobby. People who want to get me something to further my hobby just plain aren’t going to know what yarn I like or how much I need for a certain project. When I get a gift card to the yarn shop or Michael’s crafts, I know they took the time to think of me, but didn’t buy my something I couldn’t use.