ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Gift Cards: A great gift or not so hot?

Updated on March 11, 2012

There are a lot of hubs, blogs, and news articles out there debating the worthiness of gift-cards, and millions more comments. While I have decided to throw my hat in the ring of seething opinions, I am, obviously, just expressing my opinion. So here it is:

I come down on the side of gift cards.

Yep. I know, I know. Gift cards are like cash, and cash is just tacky. Well, yes and no. In Western culture, especially depending on the generation, presentation of the cash, and gift-giving situation, a cash gift can seem tacky. Useful, always. Tacky, sometimes. It is definitely still pretty tacky to request cash gifts, I'll admit.

But the thing to realize is that gift cards are not "just like cash." See, cash gifts -- no matter what the giver intends -- generally end up going into a "general fund." One year, I received a $100 bill from my in-laws at Christmas. I really appreciated it -- we used it to pay our electric bill. My husband used his $100 bill to buy groceries. There was a sort of quiet, unacknowledged guilt about doing so -- we knew that money was given to us with the intent to do something nice for ourselves (so said the card). But we were very tight on funds that year, and there was no way we could justify spending $200 in cash on anything except living expenses.

That same year, we also received $25 gift cards from my sister-in-law. Mine was for Starbucks coffee, my husband's for Best Buy. In the normal run of things, while I adore mochas and lattes and frappaccinos, I just can't justify the expense. I feel horribly guilty if I buy one, knowing full well that $5 could buy two gallons of milk, or a tin of coffee and some creamer that would last for a week or so. Likewise, my husband can't bring himself to buy the newest Halo game when we can't really afford it, and he has a perfectly fine Halo game at home. We want them, we just can't justify the expense.

And by giving me a Starbucks card, his sister gave me a gift that I could enjoy for as long as I made it stretch. I could treat myself to one coffee a month for five months, and feel no guilt. I thought of her every time I used that gift card, and I felt pampered and pleased and appreciated.

Put some thought into it.

But just like so-called "regular" gifts, a gift card can be a huge fail. For instance, my dad loves giving gift cards -- to Walmart and Safeway. That's just like giving cash. It's not actually a gift, something that says, "I see you and appreciate you and want you to pamper yourself." It's says more, "Hey, get back in the kitchen. What are you doing, you irresponsible fool! You are not allowed to have likes!"

Think of it this way: A gift card is not a lazy gift. It requires as much thought and care as any normal gift. You can cop out and give someone a generic, safe gift:

  • chocolates
  • candy
  • generic store gift card

You can put thought into it and give them a targeted, thoughtful gift:

  • handmade jewelry
  • signed copy of a favorite book
  • framed print of a favorite artist
  • gift card to a favorite store/ restaurant

Or you can go with the vaguely insulting/ passive aggressive:

  • self-improvement books
  • appliances they do not want/ need
  • weight scales
  • gift cards for stores they never visit and/or frequently complain about

Really. It's not the form of the gift you give -- it's the thought behind it.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)