Cash or gift cards at Christmas is hands down an alternative to buying someone something they don’t want or need. It can also make things easier when you’re low in time or inspiration and don’t want to get it wrong. Not a last resort, they could become a Christmas miracle to all those involved.
Gift cards could have an edge when it comes to feeling as if you’ve invested more thought into the present. But don’t think of cash as something that isn’t worth it. This means that you’re not binding someone to anything specific The sky’s the limit for the things they can spend it on.
It’s fine to go any of the options, based on what suits you and the person you’re buying for. To make it easier to make the right choice, here are some pros and cons of each to help decide if cash or gifts cards is the best way to go this year.
The case for gifts cards
If you know people’s interests and hobbies and even if you’re not – there will be the perfect Christmas gift card for them. This year, the UK marketplace for gift cards is worth around $7 billion, which makes it a popular option. Here are a few reasons why:
The gift cards you purchase can be personalized without being too specific.
The big retailers provide a more generic option, where the recipient can purchase almost everything they need from them. It shows that you know where they shop as well as the types of products they enjoy however, you still prefer to let them make the decision.
With a multi-store gift card you can choose what to buy from a wide range of shops and outlets. You can also choose smaller, more specialist shops and small-scale businesses for those who already shop there, or would prefer to.
The Gift Card & Voucher Association (GCVS) In the period between Christmas and 2020, 56% of UK gift cards purchased were for single retailers. So people are prepared to use a more targeted approach.
They can be purchased as to experience the experience, not other things.
To become more mindful of your choices and since the majority people have plenty of things, gift cards for experiences might be more appealing.
A larger budget could afford supercar track days, flying lessons and spa days that someone might not shell out for themselves. However, there are plenty of niche, more affordable options also, like pet photoshoots and forests Segway rides paddling, alpaca trekking lunch kits and afternoon tea.
If you’re going to be the one who gets to be the other, you might want to make sure that it’s something that you’re interested in, too. Sure, it’s a present for them, but they’re most likely to gain more enjoyment from an experience in fishing with carp for two if you’re not constantly complaining about being cold while you check your watch.
Gift cards can be quick to purchase and to send to last-minute shoppers
If you’re not interested in being surrounded by the frenzied shoppers or tend to leave things until the last minute they’re a gift for the recipient, too.
It is possible to purchase physical cards at supermarkets and in shops, but the ease in using digital gifts cards as well as the option to personalize them is hard to resist. It is usually possible to schedule it to send at any time and never have to worry about the post.
GCVS research in 2021 suggests that 42.7 percent of buyers of gift cards prefer to buy gift cards online . Nearly half (47%) of people prefer redeeming them online. In December of 2020, as many as one in four Brits bought a gift card for someone mostly because it’s relatively safe and a simple way to buy presents in the face of lockdown restrictions.
Although you might think that a 12-digit serial number doesn’t exactly shout Christmas, you’ll also be saving only one-use plastic, which some gifts that are physical made of. Many stores allow you to choose an appropriate design or animation when you send an e-delivery free, if that helps the experience feel more personal.
Gift cards encourage the receiver to treat themselves
While some generic gift cards can technically be used to pay for the weekly shop, gift cards are designed to motivate people to indulge themselves.
Certain people aren’t keen or have the money to buy items they don’t technically need , but would enjoy. With a gift card, you’re giving them permission to spend money and the ability to spend it, guilt-free.
The issue of gift cards
Almost convinced to go the gift card option? Before you decide you should know that:
There are some restrictions on where they can be used
There will usually be limits regarding where gift cards are able to be redeemed and what they can be spent on. If you’re planning to purchase a particular, ensure it’s an item that the recipient really like , otherwise it will never get spent or, at best, may end up on the marketplace for gift cards.
Gift cards typically have an expiry date
According to Cardyard the gift card exchange site, every one year within the UK gift cards that amount to $300 million are unused and never used. This is a lot of money wasted.
Although most gift cards offer an extended time period that you can use it, unlike cash, they will come to an end date when they’re no longer valid. It’s different, so make sure you be sure to read the conditions before you purchase. You may want to tell the recipient, too.
The larger retailers, including John Lewis, ASOS, Boots and GAME provide 24 months following the date of issue as the expiry date With Amazon gift cards included to last 10 years. National Book Tokens last for eight years, but if you don’t make use of it during this time, you are able to ask that it’s replaced with an alternative.
Check the terms of the card to know when it will expire. If it’s an experience be aware of the date that reservations must be made by, be aware that terms of the gift card may differ from the conditions of your venue.
If they break it then you’ll get the opportunity to purchase a replacement
This string of numbers, or the card with a scratch-off section could be easily lost or destroyed. If this happens, it’s worth calling the store to inquire whether it’s possible to issue a new card to ensure that it won’t be lost.
Asking yourself which gift card has the highest rate? Find out here.
If the terms and conditions state that a retailer must take it on, you’re relying on the goodwill of their customers. Also, you’re counting on the person who received it to admit that they’ve lost it that for some might be more difficult than it’s worth.
Retailers and providers may go out of business
The list of high-street stores that have gone out business, including Topshop and Debenhams might suffice to trigger some warning alarms.
When a company goes bust, the administrators decide the fate of gift cards that are in circulation. For creditors of a retailer that sells gift cards, they are considered unsecured creditors, which is regarded as a second-class, after preferred and secured creditors. This means you’ll have a chance to receive the entire amount you paid back.
When Arcadia was declared bankrupt in November 2020 50 percent of the value of a Topshop gift card was able to be redeemed. Also, Debenhams did not accept gift vouchers in December 2020 following its collapse.
If you purchase the gift card of a value of $100 or more using a credit card and it’s not honored by the retailer it could be possible to claim a refund under Section 75(1) of the Consumer Credit Act or use the chargeback scheme if you paid with credit card, even though there are no guarantees.
Still, you need to consider it
While you can express your personal interests and values for example, buying a gift card from a sustainable brand, make sure that you’re considering their interests more than yours. Also, consider that certain activities like gaming will require a gift card specifically for the console they’re using.
It’s not everyone’s idea to attend an adventure course in the bush and even though these abilities could be useful in the future. As with giving cash, you may still need to talk with their nearest and dearest and the recipient to learn what sort of thing they like doing.
What they want probably won’t exactly match the card’s value
If they’ve found what they’re looking for, it’s likely to be neatly divided from the whole. There’s a chance that there’ll be a couple of pounds that aren’t used and they’ll be required to pay for the difference.
After one transaction, if there’s less than five bucks there, the possibility could be to forget to use it or discover the remaining balance.
Averagely, UK shoppers spend 35% more than the value in the present card, according to the GCVA. This means that in certain ways, they may encourage overspending as well as using their own funds.
The case for cash as the gift
There’s no question that it’s the most obvious option. If you can overcome any idea that it’s impersonal or involves less thought, the pros are compelling:
It can be used nearly anytime, anywhere.
There is no clock ticking and there’s no limit on the amount they can do with it. And while treats are probably the goal of the person giving the gift but they are also able to save or invest it depending on what they’d like to do.
Why is it so detrimental should it end with a helper towards other expenses when finances are tight? Cash is a form of payment, and the person who receives it is free to choose.
You can remove the decision-making
Even a basic gift card assumes that the recipient is familiar with the shop and can find anything they want there.
Cash eliminates the second-guessing. It also means that this year you won’t have to send that annual text message to your brother asking what your nephew is interested in nowadays. Many people aren’t able for enough hours with loved ones to learn tips about what they are interested in and that’s why the flexibility of cash could be a great option.
For others, the act of giving money can be more straightforward than getting to comprehend what younger members of the family are actually wanting.
No transaction, no fuss
If you’re meeting them in person over the holiday season and want to present them with the cash without dealing with retailers or considering the cost of shipping. This could be a great option for those who wish to give gifts but, because of a myriad of reasons, don’t like to buy their gifts online.
You can use the bank transfer
With fewer people using physical cash in transactions What is more efficient for both parties other than a bank transfer of the cash for a specific gift? It’s easy, and it’s free in the UK, and you don’t have to find an ATM and hope it kicks out new, fresh notes instead of crumpled examples.
While there is a risk transferring money into their account makes it more likely to go towards bills . And you’re not able really wrap a transfer with a festive ribbon there are ways to earmark the amount to be used for something specific.
It is possible to ask them what they’d like to hear from you, and then transfer the amount you’d like to put towards that. They can then buy it from the best source and make delivery arrangements for them. The research conducted at Stanford University suggested that people enjoyed receiving presents they requested more than gifts they did not ask for which is why this is an indirect method of doing this.
While cheques are losing usage, they’re still an option, and some banks will process digital images of cheques through their app to make the process more convenient and faster.
Many prefer to receive cash
Some studies suggest that people generally prefer receiving cash gifts from their family and friends even though they would prefer to provide gift card gifts. The present of choice for 35% of people in the 2021 US Cardtronics survey was cash and only 66% opting for gift cards.
Although this doesn’t mean that people do not want present cards but it does suggest that we’re after an easier spending experience and not feeling restricted or compelled. It’s not just that we can get what we want, but there are no terms and conditions or balance checking requirements.
The case against cash as an offering
The majority of the time, cash is an excellent option in all the reasons mentioned above. However, there are a few drawbacks
Cash may seem unreliable
It’s not easy to personalize the gift or show that you know the things they cherish and wish to be part of it. But is that really a problem? Making it through this is just part of the challenge and nothing can say that you don’t have a relationship with someone better than giving them an item they’ll most likely never use.
Additionally, individuals are probably just as likely to feel uncomfortable asking the amount that’s on the gift card, even if it’s not mentioned.
It’s a challenge to mail
If you are required to send your gift to the person you wish to send it in lieu of using a bank transfer or by hand, Royal Mail advises sending it by Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed mail.
Make sure that the envelope isn’t perceptible through the envelope. Also, avoid sending coins since they could cause trouble with sorting machines , and can damage the envelope.
However, keep in mind that”money” includes vouchers, coupons and cards So the same postal procedure applies to gift cards.
It is possible to transfer money abroad using international tracking, but there are some countries for instance Italy and Poland that you aren’t able to transfer money to from the UK, so always make sure you are aware of this.
The wrapping up
There is no wrong or right way to give someone an item for Christmas. Gift cards and cash can be a smart choice when you are looking to reduce cost and give the recipient the option of choosing what they buy, and the time of purchase.
And if you’re a last-minute or insecure holiday buyer with a gift wrap that leaves a lot left to be desired you can’t get it wrong.
However, cash isn’t as risk-free but if it’s not the best option the right choice for you, there’s many gift cards to choose from. Simply give the recipient the option to use it before it expires, or the only present you’re buying will be for the retailer.