Gift Cards and Certificates - Why Buy?
Consumer Reports recently published an excellent article on gift cards and certificates. Here are some things to think about before buying these:
1. What is the advantage of giving the gift card instead of cash? There probably isn't any. Cash is more versatile, can be used anywhere, and is universally appreciated.
2. Gift cards and certificates often expire if not used by a certain date. Cash never expires. Gift cards and certificates are frequently misplaced. Cash is rarely misplaced.
3. Gift cards frequently impose transaction fees -- a fee over and above the actual price of each item you buy. In addition, some have "inactivity charges," where they begin taking value off of the card every month, after a certain number of months of non-use.
4. If you receive a gift card or certificate, use it quickly to avoid these charges, and to avoid having the card or certificate expire.
The bottom line: Why hand your cash -- which you can freely spend anywhere and for anything -- over to someone so they can turn it into a gift card or certificate which is full of restrictions, rules, and gimmicks designed to take your money away from you? As best as I can determine, there isn't any reason to do it. Give 'em cash.