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Gift Cards: Convenient or Troublesome?

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Authored by Kumara Velu in Shopping 
Published on 03-17-2009

Do you often have a headache deciding what gift to offer a family member or a friend? Deciding on a gift is a stressful affair for many. It is something that most folks would want to avoid. Also, studies have shown that most folks aren’t satisfied with the gifts they receive. They may want something badly and usually don’t make the wish known. Someone receiving an iPod for instance, may think, “How nice if it’s a video camera.”

The solution to this is a gift card. Yes, give a loved lone a gift card and he or she is free to buy anything that the heart desires. Among popular gift cards are those from Visa, MasterCard and American Express. These cards are valid at almost any retailer. Gift cards for iTunes downloads, dinner at restaurants and filling up car gas are also popular.

Despite the convenience of gift cards, there are some issues you should be aware of before giving them a go.

Issues

One thing you should make clear when getting a gift card is to check the validity period. How long will the card be valid? What happens if the recipient forgets about the card and it expires? Some cards will be useless after they expire. However, some providers will be willing to replace the expired card for a fee. Amazon gift cards, for instance, never expire. Also check whether a maintenance fee will be charged if there’s balance in the card after say six months or a year.

What if a gift card goes missing or is stolen? Some providers will not replace it, insisting you buy a new one. Some will issue you a new one if you can show proof of previous redemption using the card. Others will be willing to cancel the lost card and replace it with a new one for a fee.

Online Convenience

Let’s take a look at Amazon’s gift cards, redeemable for millions of products including books and electronic items. Amazon allows you to print a personalized gift card and have it delivered through email or snail mail. You can also print your card at home. All you need is a credit card to get started.

An exciting option offered by Amazon is the animated gift card. You could personalize the card with the photo of a loved one or a friend.

Firstly, you choose a card under one of the three categories – Birthday, Someone Special and Just Because. Having chosen your card, you can begin personalizing it by adding a message, photo and even the recipient’s favorite song. You then purchase it and email the gift card.

Amazon really redefines the experience of receiving a gift card. What’s more, you save time and cost of travel. Since it’s an Amazon gift card, the recipient would most likely get hold of the gift he or she desires.

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