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Getting and Giving Gift Cards as Gifts

These days, people have more options than ever for buying gifts. You can go online and choose from literally millions of options. So how do you know what the best choice is for the special person in your life? If you are buying for a loved one or close family friend, you may have some good ideas in mind. But if you are buying for a work colleague, an acquaintance, or just someone who already has everything, you may struggle with good gift ideas. Buying a gift card might be the right choice.

Or what if you have received a gift card to a place you don’t visit? Or you just don’t need anything and don’t want to use the card. Can you re-gift the card or sell it?

Here’s a little overview of the politics of giving and receiving gift cards:

When to Give

Gift cards are best reserved for those people who are not exceptionally close to you. Ideal recipients would include your children’s teachers, people you work with, your neighbors, your Secret Santa recipient, your second cousin, the person who gets your gift at the White Elephant party, and so on. If it’s someone close to you, like your mother or your husband, you should put more effort into finding the perfect gift — something that they will enjoy or something that has sentimental values.

The exception to this rule is for those who ask for the gift card. Maybe your mother already has everything she wants or needs, so she just asks for gift cards to local restaurants so that she can enjoy meals out. Or maybe your husband has his eye on a really expensive table saw, so he asks for gift cards to the local home improvement store. If you know someone would like a gift card, by all means, give it.

How to Give

Don’t just email an electronic gift card or hand one over in a birthday card. Just because you are giving a gift card doesn’t mean that you can’t make it special. Many boxes and small bags are available specifically for giving gift cards. Put the card in a nice box or bag, and decorate it appropriately. Put a little ribbon and a nice gift tag on it.

Make sure that you include a handwritten note with any gift card, preferably inside of a greeting card. You should write a thoughtful message that shows you care. The note doesn’t have to be overly sentimental, but it should be warming.

Also be sure to write the amount somewhere on the gift card. The best place is usually discreetly on the back of the box or the card.

Being the Recipient

Of course, the most important thing that you need to do when you receive a gift card or any other gift is to smile and say, “Thank you.” Be gracious. Even if you are not thrilled about receiving a gift card — for whatever reasons — this person has taken the time to give you this gift, and you should be thankful.

If you do not want the gift card — maybe because you don’t shop at that place or maybe because you just don’t need anything right now — you have several options. You can easily regift the card. No one will know that the card has already been given to you. Even people who were standing there watching you open it won’t know that it’s the same gift card they are receiving unless you put it in the same packaging. Just make sure that you write your own note and take care with your own packaging when you re-gift it.

You can also sell your gift card. You can put it on an online marketplace like Craigslist or ebay, or you can use a service like Cards2Cash that specifically purchases gift cards. No one will know that you’ve sold the card, and then you can use the cash for whatever else you would like. You can pay bills, put the money toward your next vacation, or whatever else you want.

Giving and receiving gift cards can be a great thing. Just make sure you follow proper etiquette when doing either.

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