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Tango Card Review - A Flexible Gift Card for Picky People

Updated on January 15, 2018
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Sam works as a Network Analyst for an algorithmic trading firm. He obtained his Bachelors Degree in Information Technology from UMKC.

My friends and family are always telling me that I'm a difficult person to buy gifts for. I think the issue is that most people are not exactly sure what kind of gift to buy for a techie. As a result I find myself getting quite a few gift cards.

Some people think that gift cards are a lame gift but personally I think they are very thoughtful. I'd much rather get a gift card then a gift I'll just have to return because someone wasn't sure what to buy.

I recently received a Tango card which until a few weeks ago I had never heard of. Tango cards are a new type of flexible gift card that allows the recipient to choose several different ways to use the card.

I thought the concept was very cool so I decided to create a hub to share my thoughts on the card and explain how it works.

What is the Tango Card?

Unlike other gift cards that can only be used at one location Tango cards can be redeemed for one or more gift cards from other stores. Basically with Tango you can buy gift cards with a gift card!

The recipient has the choice to use the entire balance on a gift card from one company, or they can buy several cards with smaller amounts. You can even buy more Tango cards!

The card has some other cool features that make it even more flexible. The card balance can be converted to cash, or even donated to charity. All of these options make it perfect for re-gifting too.

Tango cards come in both digital and physical format. They can be sent instantly via e-mail, or mailed like a traditional card.

The card balance has many flexible spending options.
The card balance has many flexible spending options.

What Makes Tango Unique

Retailers Supported by Tango

One of the limitations of the Tango card is that it must be redeemed with one of the retailers partnered with Tango, unless of course you opt for cash or charity.

Currently there are thirteen different retailers to choose from. Tango is still relatively new so this list may be expanded in the future. I think the list of choices is very good though, most people shouldn't have any problem finding something they like.

You can find a complete list of the choices on Some of my personal favorites include Amazon, iTunes, Nike, Starbucks, and Rixty.

Tango Card Activation

I received my card via email, the message indicated who the card was from and included instructions for activating the card.

The activation process was very easy, the email message contained a link to activate the card on the Tango web site. To activate the card I had to enter the 19 digit card number and the pin, both of which were included in the email message.

Tango cards can be activated via the web, or through the mobile app.
Tango cards can be activated via the web, or through the mobile app.

Redeeming for Other Cards

After the Tango card has been activated the balance is added to your account as Tango Dollars.

You can then begin selecting other cards to purchase from the available choices.

One thing I didn't like is that you don't have the option of purchasing an e-card from all of the retailers, currently there are only 8 options.

Some of the retailers only allow you to order a physical gift card which is somewhat annoying since you'll have to wait for it to arrive in the mail.

Gift cards can be purchased from any of the supported retailers.
Gift cards can be purchased from any of the supported retailers.

Donating to Charity

One of the problems I've always had with gift cards is that I end up with several cards that have a tiny balance left on them. Sometimes the amount left on the cards isn't enough to purchase anything from the store.

Tango provides an interesting solution to this problem by allowing you to donate any amount of your balance to one of their supported charities. You could donate the entire balance of the card if you want to, the choice is yours.

Any portion of the balance can be donated to one or more charities.
Any portion of the balance can be donated to one or more charities.

Getting Cash

Tango also allows their cards to be redeemed for cash which is a very interesting concept. If the recipient wants to spend the balance at a location not supported by Tango they can request the balance be sent to them via check.

There are a couple of caveats when trading in your balance for cash.

First Tango deducts a 7% administrative fee when you request cash. This isn't a terrible fee but personally I hate administrative fees and I try to avoid them whenever possible.

The second problem is they state that it takes 30 days to receive your check for the balance. It seems like it would be much easier if they could transfer the balance directly to your bank account or send the money via PayPal.

Mobile App

Tango also provides a mobile app for iPhone or Android devices that allows you to track the balance of your account.

The mobile app is very useful, you can perform most of the same functions that are normally done on their website.

Using the app you can activate additional tango cards or purchase gift cards from retailers.

Tango can also track the balance of other gift cards you may have lying around your house which is a pretty cool feature.

Tango mobile app for iPhone and Android.
Tango mobile app for iPhone and Android.

Overall Impression of the Tango Card

Overall I think that Tango Card's philosophy of value conservation makes for a very unique type of gift card. I like the flexibility of being able to use the balance how I see fit.

If you're trying to find a gift for someone who is very picky then you probably can't go wrong with the Tango card.

According to the Wall Street Journal billions of dollars in gift card value goes unclaimed every year. With the flexibility of Tango it is much more likely the balance will actually be used instead of sitting dormant or becoming lost.

© 2011 Sam Kear


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