Neiman Marcus and Blockbuster were later followed by the Mobil gas card which initially offered prepaid phone value provided by MCI.
Either kind can be redeemed at Walmart or Sam's Club stores or at Walmart. If you'd prefer to give the gift of an experience, Walmart carries specialty gift cards for restaurants, movie theaters and other entertainment, plus retail, travel and more.
There are also gift cards from major credit card companies, which are safer than cash, more flexible than gift certificates and single merchant gift cards and can be used wherever the card is accepted. Surprise someone with a plastic gift card. Just order the style and dollar amount of your choice, then have it sent to them in the mail. They'll thank you for remembering them with such a thoughtful surprise. The Basic Blue Walmart Gift Card makes a wonderful choice for family and friends because it lets them pick out exactly what they want.
It's easy because the most popular amounts have already been predetermined for you. Just select one and quickly move through the checkout process. The cards can be used:. As you make purchases, the gift card amount decreases. You can add to the gift card balance anytime at a Walmart store.
You can also check your card's balance anytime that's convenient for you in stores or online. Specialty gift cards are plastic, just like the Basic Blue Gift Card, but there are a wide variety of designs to provide that little extra personalization. Does the recipient love movies? Are they a fan of music? What could be better than an iTunes Gift Card? That way, they can select exactly the music they want, anytime they want. A Google Play gift card will give the recipient a variety of apps and other content to choose from.
Other possibilities include a Visa or MasterCard gift card. This is a great option because it's redeemable anywhere that Visa or MasterCard are accepted and that's practically everywhere, with millions of merchant locations across the US. They also come decorated with a colorful gift and bow on the front.
And you can spruce up the email with a colorfully designed message. They arrive immediately by email, or within 48 hours at the most. Just select the money denomination and add the card to your cart. A Charity Gift Card allows the gift giver to make a charitable donation, and the gift recipient to choose a charity that will receive the donation.
Mobile gift cards are delivered to mobile phones via email or SMS and phone apps allow users to carry only their cell phone. Benefits include tying them to a particular phone number and ease of distribution. Virtual gift cards are delivered via e-mail to the recipient, the benefits being that they cannot be lost and that the consumer does not have to drive to the bricks and mortar location to purchase a gift card.
Other companies have introduced virtual gift cards that users redeem on their smartphones. As the merchant is not involved in the loop, it is considered a cash transfer rather than a traditional gift card.
It has been argued that holiday giving destroys value due to mismatching gifts. Gift cards, to a degree, may overcome this problem but have certain pitfalls. Some feel that the absence of the thought of selecting a specific gift makes a gift card a worse choice than a poorly executed but individual gift. New services launched by some service providers allows for customization and personalization of gift cards.
Gift cards have been criticized for the ability of the issuer to set rules that are detrimental to the purchaser or card recipient. For example, gift cards may be subject to an expiry date, administrative fees, restrictions on use, and absence of adequate protection in case of fraud or loss.
However, these issues have been addressed in recent years in some jurisdictions. In the United States , many jurisdictions limit or prohibit all fees or expiration dates for gift cards. Further, because of the negative impact on sales that such policies can have, most merchants have adopted and even advertise a "no fee, no expiration" policy for their gift cards, whether or not state laws require it.
In , an estimated 2. A quarter of gift card recipients still have not spent gift cards a year after receiving them, according to a Consumer Reports survey. And a majority of people say they end up spending more than the value of the card once they get to the store. In the event of the bankruptcy of the issuing retailer, the outstanding value on gift cards is considered unsecured debt , and as such gift cards may become valueless.
Another issue regarding gift cards are the growing concerns from retailers and other businesses about what can be done to prevent gift cards from being exploited by fraudsters.
Gift card information can either be stolen from their rightful owners by fraudsters or they can be purchased with stolen credit card information. In recent years, cybercriminals have increased their efforts to take advantage of fraudulent gift cards as they are simple to exploit with automated brute-force bot attacks .
Once a gift card has been compromised, the fraudster will then check the balance through online customer portals before using the funds or reselling on the secondary gift card market .
Not all gift cards are redeemed. The card may be lost; there may be time decay expiration and fees or complex rules of redemption; the recipient may not be interested in the store that accepts the card or be under the false assumption that not using it will save money for the giver.
This has amassed a large opportunity in the secondary market, similar to the secondary ticket market in the early s. Some companies have created a business in the secondary gift card market that allow consumers to sell their unused gift cards or buy discounted gift cards to their favorite brands. All Canadian provinces have legislations passed to ban expiry dates and fees collected on gift cards. For example, gift cards that resemble credit cards i.
Under the federal Prepaid Payment Products Regulations , effective May 1, , federally regulated gift cards may only charge maintenance fees under certain conditions, and may not set an expiry date for funds on those cards.
In the past, uniform standards concerning gift cards did not exist. This was set to change as an addendum to the Credit CARD Act of directs the federal government to create consumer-friendly standards pertaining to gift cards. In addition, retailers are no longer able to assess dormancy, inactivity, or service fees unless the card has been inactive for at least 12 months, and if fees are added after that period, the details of such fees must be clearly disclosed on the card.
Additionally, retailers are unable to levy more than one fee per month. The new provisions took effect on August 22, Open loop cards are governed by rules of the Comptroller of the Currency , however oversight has been criticized. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
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