Friday, August 31, 2012

10 Uncommon Reasons to Buy Gift Cards

First off let me start by saying that if you are looking for a gift for a close family member or a close friend, gift cards are definitely not the way to go, unless you're throwing one in with your actual tangible gift ;-)  Your friends and family deserve personal gifts chosen specifically for them.  Gift cards are not always going to be your best option, but there are many ways in which buying a gift card can be an excellent idea! Here are 10 of my favorite reasons to buy gift cards.
  1. Discounts - Around the Holiday season many companies will offer discounts on gift certificates and gift cards.  If a company you shop at regularly is doing this, I recommend purchasing the gift cards for yourself (and/or your family).  Reason for this is because it is an easy way to get a discount on a place you know you are already going to be shopping at.  This only works well if it is a place you go very often! I don't recommend it for the place you shop at 4-5 times a year.  In my case last year it was our favorite bagel shop, they offered 20% off their gift cards.  We go there 2 times per month, so we bought enough for the year and it ended up saving us about $30.  One time I got a free sub sandwich for buying a Subway gift card.  I knew I was going to eventually go to Subway again....multiple times over the next year, so essentially I just gave them $20 in advance and got a free sub!
  2. A Gift for Everyone - Gift cards make for excellent gifts for the person who wasn't expecting any gift at all. A friend that is going away to college soon could really use an Amazon gift card for books or dorm essentials.  A friend that has been sick for a while would be so excited to receive just a simple $5 Starbucks gift card in her Get Well card!  
  3. Reciprocating Gifts: Let's face it, gift cards are the best gift for the person you don't know very well.  Every once in a while you are surprised with a gift from a neighbor or acquaintance you don't know too well.  Then you're left feeling bummed because you don't have anything for them! Keeping gift cards on hand can be a very simple way to reciprocate that gift!
  4. Budgeting:  In a way this is similar to the envelope system. If you are someone who easily overspends at a certain store, buy a gift card with the amount you intend to spend.  It helps to leave your credit card at home too that way you can't spend over your set amount.
  5. Experiences:  Many families don't have the money to go to the movies often, go out to a fancy dinner, get professional portraits taken, or to go to even go to the local water park or the Zoo.  Buying gift cards / gift certificates that offer an experience can often times be more meaningful than even a tangible gift!
  6. For the Non-Shopper: They are a wonderful gift for the person who never shops for themselves.  I'm talking about the person who will wear the same pair of shoes for 5 years before buying another pair. Buy your friend a gift card and set up a shopping date to go with her to make sure she buys herself some new shoes! 
  7. Practical Gifts:  We often times associate gift cards with frivolous shopping, but you can buy practical gift cards for your friends as well. For the sister who just bought a house, a gift card to Lowes or Home Depot would be extremely useful!  Back when we were a one part-time income family I was SO thankful to receive gift cards for gas and groceries! 
  8. Client Gifts - If you're a business owner of any kind, gift cards can be an excellent gift to show your appreciation for your top clients! You could also purchase gift cards as incentives for special giveaways you're hosting.
  9. Help Local Businesses - It is always SO beneficial to your city to buy locally. If your favorite local stores offer gift cards or gift certificates, this is one way you can help spread the news about their store!   For a new Mom-to-be you could get a certificate to the local maternity store or a gift card to let your friend know about the new boutique you found downtown.
  10. Giving to Families in Need -  There are always ways to donate gift cards for groceries and household items to people in need, whether it be through your church, a local ministry, or a charity.  
Some of the best gift cards to have on hand that are the most versatile are for Target, Starbucks, Amazon, or popular restaurants.

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