7 Tips for Buying and Using Gift Cards

NEW YORK (LowCards.com) — Buying gift cards this holiday season is even easier with the growing availability of virtual gift cards. Ordering is done online, and an email is sent to the recipient with the details needed to claim the gift.

Gift cards continue to show significant increases each year. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 81.1% of consumers will buy at least one gift card this year and spend an average of $156.86 on gift cards. The NRF predicts total spending on gift cards will hit $28.8 billion.

It is also a gift that can be easily forgotten. From 2005 through last year, $41 billion on gift cards went unspent, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Store brand gift cards are bought and used only at a specific retailer or groups of retailers. These cards typically have no fees and never expire. Target shoppers can send a digital gift card to a recipient by scanning a QR code on an in-store display. Amazon virtual gift cards can be bought in almost any amount, from 15 cents to $2,000. Restaurant.com offers discounts for e-gift cards to participating restaurants across the country, such as a card valued at $25 for just $10.

A general purpose card, such as a Visa gift card, is a universal card and can be used wherever Visa debit cards are accepted. Gift amounts can be for any dollar amount between $20 and $200, but there is a $4.95 processing fee associated with each gift. For a general purpose virtual gift card, the recipient simply presents the printed virtual card at the time of purchase. If there is a remaining balance, you will be given a plastic gift card for the remaining value. The American Express e-gift card may be used at merchants in the United States that accept the American Express card. Because there is no physical card associated with an e-gift card, it may not be accepted by merchants for in-store purchases.