I know this might be a bit Scroogey and I may be looking the proverbial "gift horse in the mouth", but I hate gift cards.
I know they have allegedly been the "hot gift" for Christmas the past few years due to some marketing genius, but they suck.*
A few reasons why gift cards are an awful awful gift....
1. The store always wins.
Whenever I'm using a gift card I feel like I'm playing some bizarre Price Is Right/over-under game where I'm trying to spend exactly $25 or $50 or whatever my gift card is worth -- calculating tax doing all kinds of crazy mental math. I don't want to be over because the only reason I'm at the store it to spend my free money -- I'm not trying to spend more money at the store. And I don't want to be under because I don't want $3.27 left on the card that I'll either never spend or carry around in my wallet for the next three years. I usually end up going over and the store scores a cool few extra dollars from me that I never would have spent without the infernal gift card.
2. You have to remember to bring the gift card to the store.
I'm not going to carry around 10 gift cards in my wallet for the off-chance that I happen to stop into Ikea/Williams-Sonoma/Bath & Body Works on my way home from work. Case in point: I still have a $15 Best Buy card from last Christmas (I know because it has a dancing Santa on it) that I have not yet used. Not because I don't shop at Best Buy, because I never remember to bring the dang thing with me. **
3. There is an amazing alternative to gift cards.
Did you know there's something that works just like a gift card except it can used at any store, never expires, has no restrictions, and you can always carry it with you? It's called cash (or a check). Cash can be used for all kinds of amazing goods and services! Feel weird about giving cash or check? Remember a gift card is just restrictive, annoying cash.***
I'm not trying to be a brat about the whole gift card thing, I'm still a very thankful and gracious gift receiver. I'm just stating the truth; gift cards are a giant pain. I've made a personal vow to never give gift cards except in extraordinary cases.
Does anyone share my sentiment, or am I alone in my gift card loathing?
*I will admit there is a time and place for gift cards -- like giving someone a gift card to the place where they set up their wedding registry. But that's about it. Giving someone gift cards to a random store as a wedding present? Not cool. I still have some of those over a year later.
** Another acceptable gift card one to a place that you know I frequent, like Starbucks or Trader Joe's. That would be considered acceptable because I would carry that card with me in wallet and would not be worried about over/under because I pretty much visit those places weekly.
***Don't even get me started on the Amex or Visa "anywhere" gift cards. That's a whole separate rant.
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