Why Do We Buy Gift Vouchers?


Jim at Blueprint For Financial Prosperity asks an interesting question, why do people like gift vouchers?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself in the past – why do we buy vouchers for people to spend in one particular shop, when you could give them cash which is accepted on all items in each and every shop in the country (didn’t Jasper Carrot do a joke about this very subject quite a few years ago – or maybe that was Postal Orders – remember them?). Vouchers can expire, in my experience they get destroyed in your wallet because they’re left in there for so long, making it embarrassing to hand over a scrap of paper at the till.

Anyway, the comment I left there summed up the reasons I could think of giving them:

…you know that the money is being spent on something they want, rather than just being spent on anything. If you give cash, it disappears into their wallet or their account and is kind of forgotten about. With a gift card, they’ll think of you when they spend it and recognise it as being a gift from you.

For example, rather than spending the cash paying for toilet rolls or bin bags, you know they’re buying themselves a nice new book (that they’ll never read) or a CD (that they would have downloaded anyway).

Do you still buy gift vouchers? If so, why? Do you really think they show more thought has gone into the gift?! Are we missing something? Let us know in the comments below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: babe_buddie

4 thoughts on “Why Do We Buy Gift Vouchers?

  1. I personally like getting gift vouchers because it means a) I can buy to my own, somewhat quirky taste, and b) I’m forced to spend that “money” on something for myself rather than it just being absorbed into the household budget. As an added bonus, c) it saves on postage costs since most of my family are several hundred miles away.

  2. Having given someone a wedding gift of a £100 Debenhams card nearly two years ago – I am now asking myself the same question. When my cousin finally got round to trying to spend the card a couple of months ago, she was told the card had never been activated! Several letters and phonecalls later it transpires the card I gave her didn’t correspond to the number of the card recorded against my credit card which was subsequently spent in the Leicester store. The card I was given at the time was transported to northern Ireland and given to my cousin.Debenhams have eventually offered me £50 in gift vouchers as a goodwill gesture. in the meantime I have sent my cousin a cheque for £100 and wish I’d done this in the first place! The only explaination can be that whoever served me pocketed my giftcard and gave me a dud.
    I have now started wondering how much money stores are making on lost or unused giftcards and how it can be right that they have expiry dates on them. Basically stores are receiving money for nothing! Certainly in future I will be giving cash or cheques not giftcards.

  3. Anyone buying these gift cards should be aware that the stores are making a fortune from them. Billions of pounds (worlwide) are never claimed. DO NOT BUY THEM.

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