The pros and cons of giving gift cards during the holidays

As the holidays approach, your gift list may get longer and longer. Choosing a unique item for everyone can be challenging and time-consuming between family members, friends, and colleagues.

While some gift-givers love spending the day in the mall, hopping from shop to shop, searching for deals, and walking away with bags of perfect presents, this can be challenging for anyone. Luckily, there’s an alternative to the gift-finding process that many gift-givers have found to be a viable solution: giving gift cards.

Why give gift cards

There are a lot of benefits to giving gift cards. First, you put the buying power in the hands of the receiver. They’ll also be able to decide when to make a purchase, so they can opt to shop during sales and stretch their gift further.

If someone on your list loves a particular store you’re unfamiliar with, it may be intimidating to find a uniquely spectacular gift from that shop. You could also choose the same present as another person in your gift receiver’s life, or you’ll buy something that person already owns. A gift card also solves these problems.

In other cases, you may not know which stores are your gift receiver’s favorites; a Visa gift card gives that person the ability to choose where to spend the money, as long as they accept Visa debit cards.

Finally, some people on your list may be states or countries away from you and may not be home for Christmas. Or you may be away for the holidays. In either scenario, you’ll probably rely on the post to present your gifts to the people on your gift list. Sending large packages can quickly become costly, and a gift card will fit sleekly inside an envelope and won’t incur additional postage fees.

The downsides of giving gift cards

There are plenty of positive aspects of giving gift cards to the people you love, but it also has some downsides. Nationally, many gift cards go unused every year. According to Bank Rate, more than half of U.S. adults have unspent gift cards. That means American consumers are leaving $15 billion on the table – or in the backs of their wallets.

When asked why they didn’t use the gift cards they’ve received, respondents to a Consumer Reports survey said they either didn’t have the time, couldn’t find anything to buy, or forgot they had the card.

Additionally, some gift receivers say gift cards are impersonal and might give the impression that the giver is a lazy gifter.

Putting a positive spin on gift cards

If you’re considering buying a gift card and want to ensure you don’t give off a wrong impression, take time to personalize your present. Writing a heartfelt message in the card or handcrafting a card just for that person goes a long way.

You can also tailor your gift to ensure your friends or relatives get something they want from the gift card. If you’re unsure which store they’re likely to choose for themselves, give them a Visa card they can use at a wide range of places rather than a card for a specific store.

You can also ensure the receiver knows how to exchange the gift card if they don’t want it. Some sites, such as and, buy, sell and trade gift cards at discounted prices. It’s just like putting a gift receipt in the box of a piece of clothing you aren’t sure will fit.

Are you searching for the perfect gift for someone on your list? A gift card might be the ideal solution, and getting one from Bank Midwest is easy.

Updated post. Originally published December 2017.

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