Gift Cards ~ by Moni Gilbert

Gift giving and receiving can be a touchy subject for 365’ers and their relatives. The best compromise to date, is the gift card or vouchers. However, reports show that $1 billion dollars worth in 2013 weren’t redeemed and $2 billion dollars worth in 2014. No wonder retailers love gift cards! Money for nothing!

This made me consider the gift cards that were floating around my kitchen drawer and decided to use these as part of my decluttering mini-missions. It turns out I had three – one for $25 to a supermarket, one for $20 at the shopping mall and one for $100 dinner at a local restaurant.

The restaurant one (received Jan 2014) was due to expire later this week so we made a booking. As for the supermarket gift card (May 2014) – it isn’t my usual supermarket, which is why I didn’t have an arrangement in place to redeem it and the shopping mall one is fairly recent (Nov 2014) but I didn’t have anything in mind for it.

Why do so many gift cards expire?   Why did what amounted to cash sit in the drawer?   Dollar notes wouldn’t lie around for 6-12 months.   Colleen noted that once upon a time such things would have been a gift from heaven for the average family, especially the grocery card.

Colleen brought to my attention an interesting angle.  Why do we keep so many ‘just in case’ items in our house, if we struggle to use up virtual money, surely this proves we don’t need to keep stuff we don’t use.

So how do we avoid expiring gift cards?

Keep gift cards in your wallet, not the kitchen drawer and try to plan purchasing around them.   My usual supermarket sends loyalty vouchers twice a year and I wrap it around my loyalty card so it gets used at first opportunity.  If it isn’t a store that you frequent, note the expiry date and load a reminder into your phone.   There are also sites such as, Swapagift.comand to sell or trade, but as I live in New Zealand I checked on Trademe (like eBay) and people are selling their cards there too.

Another idea I feel deserves mention, for small residual amounts left on a card, instead of letting that money expire, use it to make a donation.Websites such as…

Charity Choice ~

and Gift Card Giver ~

…stockpile cards and combine them into higher-value gift cards that are donated to the needy and worthy charities.

Is there something as a gift card giver that I can do to make it easier for the receiver to redeem?   Low end cards got the thumbs up in my research.  A $25 Wendy’s gift card is more ‘do-able’ than a $25 gift card to an expensive fashion store which will require the receivee to spend more than they were gifted to buy anything. Cards that required the receivee to travel out of their way to redeem were listed as the next most likely to expire and ‘unlikely candidate’ also got a mention ie if Grandma isn’t an iPad aficionado, don’t give her an iTunes app card..

So what did I do with my remaining two gift cards?   I don’t actually need anything at the moment but my daughter is off to Tech this year and needed to set up an iCloud account which required her own Apple ID which in turn required some sort of credit card to attach to the account.   As she doesn’t have a Visa card, she was unable to complete the setup.   I had a moment of inspiration, what if I used the two gift cards to purchase iTune gift cards to load against her AppleID? I purchased two $20 cards and a chocolate bar, both of which were gratefully received.

I’m not sure what to call this….re-gifting-gift-cards? Re-purposed-gift-cards? Re-redemption-cards? The gift-card-that-kept-on-giving?

I wasn’t keen on the swapping this bit of plastic for a new bit of plastic, but on the other hand I didn’t receive gifts that I didn’t need and I am grateful as I was able to use them to create a solution and saved me parting with cash.

 As for the restaurant voucher, I’m looking forward to dinner on a balcony overlooking the white sand of our local beach, and even better to express her appreciation my daughter has offered to drive us to and from the restaurant, as long as we don’t mind travelling in her ancient two door small Nissan Pulsar with no air-con and listening to her music. Eminem is a small price to pay compared to a taxi in the holiday season in a beach town and it means my husband and I can both enjoy a bottle of wine that was also a gift.

So 365’ers, what gift cards and vouchers do you have lurking in your home that you could set a goal to use up over the next week or two?   Do you have any clever suggestions for gift cards whether as the giver or the receivee?

Today’s Mini Mission

Wednesday – Declutter and item of clothing. I decluttered a dress, not because I wanted to it simply worn out. Split down the back worn out and not worth repairing because the fabric had worn so thin.


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. What a great post Moni!
    I only have 3 cards that are getting used up! Christmas and my birthday being 1 week apart I convinced my parents (who still insist on giving me presents) to get me two types of gift cards that I know I will use. One is for the movie theater (it doesn’t expire) and the other is for Google Play. I use the Google Play card to buy season passes for my favorite shows. This way I can keep up without having a cable subscription.

    • I forgot my ongoing Starbucks card! It’s pretty handy when travelling.
      I try to patronize local coffee shops but sometimes it’s the only decent option around. I also love the fact that it doesn’t expire either.

      • Julie, I wish we had coffee cards like Starbucks here in Australia. We have them at Starbucks of course but they are only here and there in the capital cities. It is handy to have a loaded card when you have no cash on you and you want a quick coffee. But then again I suppose they just clutter up your wallet. I like the liquor store across the street better as it has loyalty cards but it is all computerised and I only need tell them my name. My $8 Pinot Grigio only cost me $4:35 yesterday.

    • Julie – good idea to suggest a specific gift card for gifts. I think Movie Theatre gift cards are a great idea especially if they don’t expire.

  2. This is funny, Moni. I keep coupons and gift cards in a bowl on our dining table. This morning, I realized the edges of the bowl were dusty, so I went through everything, recycled expired coupons, tossed some little notes to self and checked out the gift cards. $50 to a restaurant that we never go to; $25 to a sporting goods store; and $25 to a local nursery. I think I’ll give the restaurant card to my boss who I know does go to that particular place. The sporting goods store card might get used up within the next couple of weeks and the nursery card will definitely get used this spring when we put in some new plantings to try to block out the neighbor’s gi-normous addition on their house that now hovers over our backyard. Seeking some Fast Growing Tall Trees!!

    • Michelle – what a shame you don’t want the restaurant card because our dinner out was lovely. But gifting it on to someone else who will definitely appreciate it will no doubt at some point result in some good Karma coming back your way.

      I have to admit the first time I read your comment I honed in on the word ‘nursery’ and I jumped to the conclusion about a baby nursery store and was this big news? Then I re-read it and realised it was a plant nursery. But I hadn’t heard the story about the neighbours house addition, so yes I agree some fast growing trees would be just the thing.

    • I liked in better in Washington State where they bought in a law that gift cards weren’t to have a used by date. So long as the store took the money in the first place they have to honour the card. It isn’t as thought they have to honour the price of goods from the day the card was handed out so why should they have an expiry date.

      • In addition, at least in Washington, it is my understanding that a gift card holder can request cash back if the remaining balance is $5 or less.

  3. LOL, I was decluttering old baby gift bags & cards, given to my son 6 years ago (the hazards of moving so often) and I discovered an old gift card with no expiration date! When it was given to us the place did not have groceries and now it does! Cha…ching, a chunk of my weekly grocery bill down! Yeah for decluttering!

  4. Such an interesting topic Moni, thank you for this post. The amount of gift card money that doesn’t get redeemed is quite amazing. I agree that giving more do-able cards is the way to go otherwise people tend to try to save them for some special occasion that never comes. I know I have done this in the past when I’ve been given a big gift certificate to a spa or something really nice, but now I try to use it quickly and figure that this week is as good for a treat to myself as next week or next month or whenever. I keep the cards in my wallet (things like Starbucks, such a treat to get myself a latte after doing the grocery shopping!), or I note on my calendar if I have anything that is going to expire. My college sons seem to really enjoy getting gift cards for things like McDonald’s or Target so they don’t have to hand over real cash for the occasional portion of fries or bottle of shampoo, so I know that those get used.

    Enjoy your dinner out with your husband! That sounds like a fabulous place and how nice of your daughter to drive you there!

    • Christine – I am ashamed to admit that I let a gift certificate to a beauty salon expire, even though I was really excited to receive it. As you said, I kept saving it for a special occasion but didn’t have a specific occasion in mind.

      • Hi Moni,

        Some places will honor expired gift cards, it’s worth a phone call if you still have the card. Other places are real sticklers, like the nail salon my daughter gave me a card to. 3 days expired and they only gave me credit for 2/3 the value… I told them I’d never be back! If I had been the business owner, I would have graciously accepted the card just to promote future business. Part of the reason I was upset about it was that it was from my younger daughter who gave it to me just out of college when she didn’t have any money to spare. She sacrificed for that card and then they didn’t accept the entire amount (mad face), it was only “valid” for less than a year too. Good post though 🙂

        • Peggy – I took the opportunity to ask the restaurant we went to and they say last minute bookings and expired vouchers happen all the time, they generally honour a gift card if it has expired within reason.

  5. A good post Moni. I’m so thankful that we no longer give or receive gifts with anyone. Once in a great while I will receive one for Amazon (can always use that for books) or a restaurant. I have one right now for the latter and we plan to use it once things calm down on the doctor appointment front.

    • Deb J – when I initially put out the message I didn’t want gifts because I was decluttering I had just bought my Kobo e-reader and was keen to buy the digital version of my favourite books so I put the message out for Kobo gift cards and it worked nicely.

      • You are like me, Moni. You can never go wrong with Kobo, Kindle or Nook gift cards or Amazon.

        • Deb J – I’m especially happy that years of keeping their e-books exclusive to their e-readers they’ve introduced apps for other devices. I can now get Kindle books on my iPad and I can put Kobo books on my iPhone.

          • Moni, yes I like that too. Actually, I gave my Kindle to my mom and use my Samsung Galaxy tablet to read my e-books on. If all goes well, before too long I will be able to do everything I want on it and will probably get rid of my laptop.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I generally stay “on-top” of gift cards, but we got so many when we got married in 2013 I fell way behind. I stopped and took the time to go through them all, find out the balances, found out how to redeem on for a restaurant that closed, and made plans for the remaining dinners or purchases. I would have lost money if I hadn’t done this. Plus we have lots of date nights ahead for food and movies plus a trip to our beautiful arboretum. 🙂

    • Connor – I attended a wedding some years ago in Australia and as it was a second time around couple they requested gift cards from a particular department store so they could put them towards replacing a refrigerator that was on its way out, it worked out well for them.

      I agree with everything you say about gift cards for older kids and teens. The chances of finding exactly the perfect gift to have a delighted response when unwrapping, are pretty slim but kids all know exactly what they want. I was always a bit surprised at the speed of which my kids would be wanting to spend their gift card, but now I realise they have the right of it.

    • Connie – my apologies auto correct changed your name and with my headcold I replied to Rae instead of you though what I said about the gift cards to buy a new refrigerator would tie in nicely too. Yes it would take some managing to deal with a weddings-worth of gift cards. I went to a wedding five years ago and the groom had organised a honeymoon that would take them thru several countries in South East Asia. At the approval of the groom, the travel agents sent out an email to the guests offering upgrades or day trips or particular vouchers to add to their itinerary and there was a list of possibles and an amount. The honeymoon was kept a surprise for the bride, though she knew they were going overseas (she hadn’t travelled before) each of the vouchers or upgrades had printed on it who had gifted it, so the Elephant ride was gifted by X, and the dinner out at a particular restaurant was a gift from someone else and so on and so on, so it was still a lovely surprise for them both. As they were well established household-wise it was a bit of a relief to give them something so novel.

  7. Great post Moni. We don’t usually get a lot of gift cards but we do have a movie one at the moment we got at Christmas, that we are planning on using when we go see the Avengers in a couple of months with a couple of our nephews. I have found as our nieces and nephews get older, gift cards are a good present, especially as we are trying to get away from giving them toys and other stuff that takes up room in their homes. The older ones like top ups for their phones, or zoo passes or movie vouchers are popular with the younger ones. Our 6 year old nephew loves being able to “pay” for his own movie as it makes him feel so grown up. The older nephews like JB Hi Fi vouchers (an electronics shop) where they have the choice of PlayStation or computer games or DVDs (I know it’s more stuff but at least this way they get the items they want and I don’t end up picking the wrong thing that becomes clutter). I also find mall vouchers are good for the parents-in-law. That way they have a range of shops to spend them in, or as they like to go down to the mall to have coffee they can do this multiple times.

    • Rae – my apologies I have a headcold and replied to you further up on someone else’s comment.

      I agree with everything you say about gift cards for older kids and teens – they know exactly what they want and better to let them end up with something they actually want than to buy something which they don’t want just because we the adult want to them to u-wrap something.

  8. Here is a comment from Tanja I received via email.

    This one is easy – I fund-raise for the Crèche, and “One-for-all” gift cards go to buy beads and wire and stationery. This is a scheme [in Malta] where the same gift cards can be redeemed at different shops that are in the scheme, and most people use them, rather than specific ones from shops that may only be “spent” there.
    “…These convenient vouchers are offered by MaltaPost in conjunction with The Gift Voucher Shop Ltd, and can be used at jewellers, fashion retailers, home and garden shops, beauty salons, hairdressers’, and more. In fact, they can be exchanged for goods and services at over 400 outlets across the Maltese Islands…”

  9. Here is another comment received via email from Carol.

    This sounds like what we all did over winter break. We found so many. I put them in my wallet like you suggested. I had five to the theatre with various amounts but even $1.62 helps. 🙂 We took three of us to the movie for half the price. I do love giving gift cards quite often these days because I hate giving cash. But I am very specific on what I give…I find ways to be sure it is a card that they will use.

    • Carol – did the theatre allow you to use the five cards up on the one purchase or did you have to spread it over assorted tickets and/or food items?

  10. I always request gift cards to shops my husband and I go to, but funnily enough we sometimes get gift cards to OTHER shops, which is a bit strange. However, we immediately make a plan to redeem them as soon as possible (usually with consumables if possible). My last one I was able to buy a good quality wheelie carry on bag which we needed. We are going on an overseas trip later in the year.

    I usually give Westfield (mall) gift cards which means they have a huge choice of shops to choose from, from groceries to luxuries.

    • Janetta – I like your idea to plan to redeem them as soon as possible. My husband described me as being a bit like Gollum/Smeagal with The Ring (“the precious” ie Lord of the Rings) when I get a gift card. I’m glad you were able to get something as useful as a wheelie bag for your trip.

  11. My question is what is wrong with just giving cash? Why do we give gift cards and restrict where the receiver can purchase their own gifts and potentially get it wrong?
    Cash gives them totally choice and if they choose to use the money on basics instead of a treat at least it’s used.
    And you can’t deposit gift cards into savings accounts. When I was a kid parents often got their kids to save part of any cash gift they received, which was a good life lesson.

    • Hi Gail, my thought is why do we give anything at all. I usually just take my friends out for coffee, lunch or a movie. Time spent together is far more valuable than material possessions anyway.

    • I think giving cash means that many times it will be used for regular expenses and there won’t be anything special about it. Kids, however, love cash as they don’t really have any regular expenses, lucky things!

    • Gail – I think it is entirely up to the giver what they want to do. Most of my gift giving goes to children and older teens these days, and in the first instance I would prefer to use Gift Cards as it is keeps the giving heading in a delightful direction.

      For example, once upon a time a gift card to JayJays would have been gold to my daughter as it would have represented purchasing freedom (within reason) ie she didn’t have to ask me for the money, she didn’t need to listen to my economic opinion ie “Do you REALLY need another tshirt” or “I think you’re about to grow, we’ll wait until then” – she could see it, want it, buy it. These days she prefer a specific bill to be paid for such as a quarterly registration for her car.

      Cash – I always objected as a child to being made to save a portion of my gift money. Yes I agree saving is a great skill for kids to learn but I feel that the gifting was between my grandparent and myself, therefore my mother shouldn’t have a say in the matter. To me it was like being given $10 but actually only given $5 because I had to give away (to the bank) half of my gift. It just took the ‘delight’ out of it, I was being given something fun and frivolous but with dour terms and conditions. That’s just my six year old opinion. I remember about 10 years ago a relative gave my children a chocolate bar each with a toothbrush wrapped in with it, it seemed such a contradiction even if the message was well intended.

  12. Moni, it always amazes me how I will have just completed, or will be planning on doing, the next subject that comes up on 365. This morning before I got this post I had called and made an appt for a massage with a gift card I have been carrying around for two years. My niece had given it to me as a treat for my 60th birthday which was in NOV 2012!!!!! However, my husband was in a bad accident less than a month later. 2013 was a blur of hospitals and dr appts. In 2014, I was always thinking, “so and so stressful thing is coming up, so I will wait till after that”. Thankfully, my gift card didn’t expire, so next week I will finally be getting a wonderful massage over 2 years later!!!

    One of my worst experiences was with a gift card, though. My sister bought me clothes at a mall where I never shop about 80 miles from home. To get the store discount, she used her friend’s store card and just reimbursed her. As usual, the clothes didn’t fit. (I’ve begged her forever to NOT buy me clothes!). I had to drive all that distance to return them. Couldn’t get a credit for my sister because it wasn’t her store card (she had forgotten the whole situation by then). Had to get a gift card because I couldn’t find anything I wanted. Had to make a second trip back to the mall at a later date. Shopped till I was so mentally worn out trying to find something before the card expired. Obviously settled for something I wasn’t thrilled with since I don’t remember what I got, but remember vividly the bad experience!!!!!!!! It certainly wasn’t worth the effort!!!!

    Thankfully, these days I don’t receive many gifts OR cards!!!

    • Brenda – that is a perfect example of gift card giving gone wrong re: the gift from your sister. Stress aside, it sounds like it potentially have cost you more in fuel to finally redeem than what the card was. On the other hand I am very pleased that you are getting your massage and what good fortune it didn’t expire within a year.

      • You are right, Moni! It probably cost me two-thirds of the value of the gift to redeem it, not to mention the stress and two whole days lost to shopping I didn’t enjoy. My sister is the only person who still gives me gifts and she is the ONE person I wish I could get to STOP!!!!! She says I have ruined Christmas for her, not wanting to do gifts. Yet, she has EVERYTHING (hoarder almost) and I HATE to try to buy for her knowing it will just go into a pile! The whole thing is stressful!! It would be so simple to just stop the nonsense and enjoy each other’s company.

        • Brenda – oh dear. There is definately a conflict of interests here. I’m guessing to your sister things equal a tangible proof of love. To you things equal stuff to be dealt with and the effort of getting rid of. Could I suggest that you look for a specific experience that you’d like to share with your sister, say a show or hot air balloon ride or a weekend away – contact your sister and say that what you really, really want is to do this with her and could you both pitch in together and that’s what you’d like instead of a birthday gift or xmas gift.

    • Brende, thi sis why I have told everyone I know to not buy me anything accept Amazon cards or give me nothing at all. I had a similar experience some years ago and decided then that I didn’t want another like it.

      • Deb J, I don’t know why, but I had never thought of an Amazon gift card!!!! I think I will suggest this from my sister for the future. I can find anything I would likely want from there, and would probably even splurge and get something I wouldn’t ordinarily buy for myself. Thank you for the idea!!!

  13. Deb J – that was quite a leap forward your mum switching to an e-reader, does this mean more books might be leaving the household?

    • Yes, we got rid of more books. When I have time I plan to declutter some more. She still prefers “real” books but has gotten used to the Kindle.

      • Deb J – I do think they take a bit of getting used to and I do remember bouncing back and forth between ‘real’ books and Kobo in the early days but I wouldn’t dream of buying a ‘real’ book these days and I love having my entire library at my finger tips. My daughter and I joke how easy it will be to pack the ‘library’ next time we shift house.

        • Moni, I like having my library with me and easy to pack. If I can ever afford to replace my “real” books with e-books I will get rid of the real ones.

          • I have passed on all but 16 of my books and those are craft reference books. I read a lot of books on my Kindle and I also get books from the library. I won’t buy more books as I find I can get all the inspiration and patterns I could ever want off the internet – yay for Pinterest!

  14. My family tends to give cash with a picture/note of whatever thing they had in mind (“Go buy yourself a bike light”) which I think is a fabulous way to do it. My in-laws did the same this year, but mainly I think because they ran out of time to shop. I’m hopeful they found it so easy they do it again. 🙂

    I believe I currently have 2 gift cards. One I got last week for participating in a research study to the grocery store down the block, so it will get used soon. The other for the bookstore–I get those for entering coke codes as the only useful reward, and I tend to use them to buy gifts for family who have books on their list that I can’t find used. So sometimes they sit on my desk and then POOF all gone. I may spend this one to buy a birthday present for one of the three parties my son is going to.

  15. Nice post, Moni! I like adding a personal touch to gift cards – taping a movie gift card to the back of a box of popcorn or putting a gift card in between the pages of a library book and giving it to the recipient. I’d make sure the book was on something the recipient was not interested in, and I’d place the gift card according to the birthday – page 20 for a 20th birthday – and wish them a happy birthday, and ask them to please return the book on time and then, casually say that I thought they’d find the first paragraph on page 20 interesting. The initial bewilderment, followed by laughter, is priceless.

  16. Just a short update – the dinner out was lovely.

    I have since then discovered two more gift cards and a shop voucher. One of the gift cards was for $25 fuel which I had put in the coin tray of my car and discovered while I was giving it a spring clean. The other gift card is for $120 fuel that was given to me by my daughter’s school as we helped transport students and props to an event last year (I would have done it for free) but the card is to a petrol station that there isn’t one in my immediate area – I know, I know, its crazy who would leave that kind of petrol money lying around? What I have learnt is that I’m a creature of habit, I fuel my car on the same day each week at the same gas station. So my options are either to use my lovely fuel card while out of town (not happening until April), coordinate filling my car with chores across town (not sure when that would be) or I could give it to my daughter who has a 60km round trip each day to Tech next week until timetables are sorted and she can organise some sort of car pool.
    I also found a voucher in my wallet that will expire in May at my local Pharmacy for $10. It can’t be used for medicines, prescription or health services but I have noticed that the first aid kit needs some more eye-saline so I will put that on my to-do list for later this week.

  17. Great post!

    If I have to receive anything (that sounds so ungrateful, but I know you 365-ers understand), then I definitely prefer a gift card. Amazon is my favorite, because you can get books and music or wait until you actually need something else and order it from home, rather than having to go shopping.

    We got a gift card to Outback Steakhouse for Christmas. (Do you guys have Outback in Australia? LOL.) We love it, but we don’t have one where we live. So I’ll be saving it for when we travel to see some friends and they can go with us.

    I also prefer gift cards when I need to give a gift. I really don’t want to give cash, but I’d still rather the person/couple get to pick out exactly what they want instead of what I guess they want. For weddings and graduations, I give gift cards to Walmart or Target because everyone I know shops at those stores. For a baby gift (which I had to buy today!) I give a cute stuffed animal and a gift card to Macy’s (we don’t have a Target here, and I didn’t feel like going to Walmart for just one thing). I get the little animal because baby gifts are usually given at baby showers, and I don’t want to just hand over an envelope. Plus, it’s cute. And the new mom can have something to put in the baby’s room right away in case it is months before she is able to go shopping again. (Hopefully it gives her something to look forward to.)

    Loved all the comments!

    • Melanie – I live in New Zealand but my Australian half-sister did work in an Outback Steakhouse while she was travelling the world. Ironically half the staff were New Zealanders but apparently much of the world can’t tell our accents apart.

      I agree for baby shower gifts often a voucher is a better gift. I recall (some 20 years ago!) at my son’s baby shower most of my friends bought the first cute outfit they saw without any thought to size or season and unfortunately most outfits went un-worn. I do however recall a gift I was given for my daughter (middle child) that still stands out to me. I was given a really pretty dress to fit a size 3 year old. At the time I thought it was a bit odd and she’ll never fit this but eventually the day came when we were going to a family function and I had stashed away in the cupboard this gorgeous dress. I was so grateful because by then we had three pre-schoolers and I wouldn’t have been able to afford such a good quality dress.

      That experience aside, I still maintain that a gift card for a baby gift is the best idea. Otherwise, my preferred gift instead of taking flowers to the hospital or to visit the new arrival is I think they have an Australian store too, I’m not sure about America but they fold the little socks and singlets and things into flowers and present it as a bouquet. Its so adorable and yet practical. Flowers and gift in one.

  18. Moni, this is a great post and good reminder. I have about 3 gift cards to a restaurant we like – just need to schedule a date. I also have a couple gift cards for a coffee shop, it isn’t close to us but it’s in a town where I shop occasionally; I need to put it in my wallet so I’ll have it when I need it! I also have some money left on a movie card, need to get that scheduled as well. Thanks for the links to charities that will take donated gift cards – a great solution for ones we don’t use.

    • Barbara – three restaurant gift cards! All I can say is that when we sat on the deck waiting for our meal, watching the waves and enjoying the warm weather, we wondered why we waited so long. I think we were waiting for a special occasion but in reality, any time we can get out for a restaurant meal is a special occasion in itself.

  19. Moni,
    If we receive gift cards, I become a women on a mission to use them or send them to someone who will within a few days. Personally, I have never gifted anyone gift cards after a bad experience using the gift cards predecessor, gift certificates, many decades ago. When I gift money, I gift it in cold hard cash or by personal check. Am I really that old, or does everyone remember gift certificates?

    • We used to call them gift vouchers, but I’m sure it’s the same thing. As a child I often received books vouchers, wonderful!

    • Kimberley – I just asked my older daughter which she prefers as a gift – cash or a gift card. She looked at me quite blank and said “Gift card, becauseI borrow cash off you all the time”. Hmmm interesting. Cash is for necessities of life, gift cards are for things she can’t afford. I guess if she asked to borrow money to get her nails done, I’d probably say no, so I can see her reasoning.

  20. I’m generally good with gift cards. The only one I have right now is a Kobo one with 63 pence on it – I refuse to give them my card details (I’ll empty my account on books if I do) so once I have a little more free money I shall top it up. For presents I’m making a big “give me gift cards or a cheque” push, it’s sort-of working…

    I really commented to say that restaurant card sounded very well-spent! Sounds like a wonderful time.

    • Nuriel – I know what you mean about attaching card details to Kobo……its so easy. Especially when you’ve finished book two at 10 o’clock at night and you just have to read the third and final book………

      • I just can’t pay by card – I withdraw my week’s budget in cash to ensure I stick to it, and I can’t hook devices to my card. Moni, you just explained exactly why!!

  21. I never liked gift cards for the reason of possible expiration… That has happened quite often to me actually. To me, cash does the exact same thing, and a friendly note/card can be added to the gift with inspiration to what the receiver should/could buy.

    Though I’m more aware why some people choses to give gift cards over money, to avoid the gift money just being sucked in to the regular budget (used on food instead of being used for something special, like a treat for the receiver, I still don’t like to receive them… To me it’s the gift of being forced to buy something you don’t need, so that you later can’t complain about it. I’m a lousy gift receiver, that doesn’t deserve to be given gifts, I know 😛 But this was my opinion even before I became aware that I was a minimalist and before I really started to see (and avoid/get rid of) all the extra stuff in my life…

    • Hi Janni, I am not a lover of gift cards either, and yes cash is more versatile. I used to love it when our grandmother would send $5 in our birthday cards when we were kids and we could spend it on what ever we wanted. In those days we got excited to find a glass drink bottle that we could cash in for 10c and buy, what today would be, $5 worth of hot chips at the fish and chip shop, or candy at the Family Fair store. Oh how much I appreciated a little cash back in those days.

      The problem is that now it seems to have become back taste to give the gift of cash. And frankly, when the people exchanging cash have enough of it anyway the whole thing seems a little silly. I know because that is what I am my family would do because we lived far apart. Now we just send a card between one another because it is the thought that counts after all. And I tell my friends not to buy gifts for me either. Some comply while the others have learned to go for the consumable kind. For the most part anyway. Any others are often kept for a little while out of respect and then donated.

  22. Over here there was a change in law so that gift cards aren’t allowed to expire for at least 3 years (most even don’t expire then).
    Very good, as we found one for the supermarket we frequent that was more than a year old (no idea why it never got used up, there was only about 4,50€ left on that one).
    We did get weird gift cards for christmas though. The best one was one that could be used in several malls (every shop in these malls), so I used it on needed shoes. The others however were a little strange: We got them all from the same family members, but instead of giving one gift card with a bigger amount, they gave us several cards to several clothes stores, each of a rather smallish amount. Probably the idea was that we would find something somewhere at least, but in reality it has the effect that without adding our own money we can’t get a nice sweater or jacket or so anywhere, but only socks, plain t-shirts or underwear – you get the picture. We’re not really up to replacing all our underwear at various shops though… We decided to keep them a little longer (they won’t expire anytime soon as mentioned! 😉 ) so they will be a little discount when we have to make a purchase.
    My favourite “gift cards” are in fact membership cards to libraries, museums, the zoo, a swimming pool or so (cinema vouchers are fine, too). The thing is with stores, I like the most generic best (supermarkets I frequent, amazon, etc.), but really if it’s that generic, plain cash will do just as well.

    • Sanna – I think it is excellent law! Money shouldn’t expire. I can see how frustrating several cards with small amounts on each would be. In my opinion its not a gift if the recipiant of the gift has to contribute to the gift. It would be ok if the recipiant wanted something more costly than the average price but to me it isn’t fair if it forces the recipiant has to chip in to buy something. One generous card would have been much more sensible for a meaningful gift.

      • I thought so, too. It was a bit weird, as boyfriend did in fact mention he needed “maybe a few shirts and socks” to that family member, but he never thought that they would give such a big amount in all. (and then spread it out!)
        I know for sure he would have had some more expensive wish in the electronics department, where that money would have come in handy, but oh well, lots of little gift cards it is. It teaches to be more specific both when wishing for something and when asking for a wish. 😉

        Yes, I think that is very good law indeed.

  23. I have so many gift cards and gift certificates! I have really made a commitment to use them up and/or plan a shopping mission around them. Some of my favorite uses were a Subway card that came in handy to buy those last-minute meals before you go on vacation (as in, don’t stock your fridge; eat well, eat free because you are about to spend money on vacation dining, and no funky leftovers to return home to! I also was able to fully deck out 2 Mardi Gras ball dresses with a store credit (certificate card) I got when I unloaded a bunch of books last year at a consignment store…My credit allowed me to get a couple free pieces that I wore to both balls, for free—and “paid for” by way of other decluttering!

  24. Some cards/certificates are definitely easier to use than others. Two times I have received certificates for (one of a kind) stores that went out of business. In both cases, they were stores not near my home and I just happened to drive by and see the “Going out of Business” sign. I probably got more for my money but I would’ve been irritated had I been too late to redeem them!

  25. I received a gift card to a bookstore chain, the closest store being over an hour’s drive from our home. We did eventually go there, buy a book and use the card. There was a small balance left over, not enough to buy anything and they didn’t offer cash, so I just gave the card to the person behind me in line. Enjoy!

  26. Great post, Moni; I think you covered the topic really well. I’m enjoying the comments, too!