Received a gift card or e gift card this year for the holidays, birthday or “just because”? Giving these cards – e or otherwise have become quite popular. The very first gift card was created by Blockbuster Entertainment, the well known video store chain in late 1994. Those gift cards were designed to replace gift certificates that were counterfeited using the recent development of color copiers. Today most major Big Box retailers and even smaller chain stores we love offer gift cards – and now e-gift cards are available too. In 2012, CEB TowerGroup estimated that shoppers spent $110 billion in gift cards. That’s 10% more than the year before. Most shoppers readily admit they hope they will receive one as a gift too, making them a popular gift both to give – and receive!

Now that e gift cards are available, you have the ability to send a gift card with the click of a mouse. Giving gift cards has become even more convenient. But which is better? Should you give an e gift card or a gift card? Let’s debate!

E-gift card

Digital Gift Cards

PROS:

Know someone who loses everything – twice? The e-gift card may be the perfect gift for them. It can pretty much never be lost. You buy it directly from the store and the store e-mails it to them. They always have a record of it for your friend, family member or loved one.

If you are in a rush to get a gift to someone fast – the e-gift card can be the perfect choice. There is no worrying about shipping it to them, the e-mail will reach them in a moment. You also don’t have to pay shipping charges to send a gift card.

E-gift cards through GiftRocket and Giftly can be redeemed right from your smartphone. This is fun technology, ideal for someone who likes gadgets and the latest things.

CONS:

Remember how we said you could never lose this e-gift card? Well, that is pretty much accurate…except what can be lost is the e-mail announcing it! If you send one of these e-gift cards, call your loved one or send them an additional e-mail to let them know about the e-gift card. Then if they didn’t get it, you can help them re-receive the e-gift card and the code to use it.

Some may view the e-gift card as a bit cold, as if they have just received a “cash transfer” from you. But this attitude may be generational and also may change, as some also think this way about the traditional gift card.

Gift card

Gift Cards

PROS:

You can gift wrap a gift card, and give it as a gift. Many stores, especially around the holidays sell small tins or even have little boxes especially for gift cards. It is fun to give someone an actual, physical gift for their special day.

While you may not want to think about this – gift cards are actually tradeable at sites like GiftCardGranny.com. So even if they aren’t returnable, your loved one can trade that gift card they wont use – for one they will.

Many people like to be able to physically hang on to a gift card, to know where it is. If it is an e-card, you can’t put it in your wallet or purse.

A gift card is easy to mail to a loved one at a distance for little expense. If you want them to have the special surprise of opening a package, this can be done with a gift card.

CONS:

With a physical gift card, it basically works like cash money. If that person loses it – they lose access to your gift you have given them. Anyone else who finds it could use it.

Watch the fine print: some gift cards have expiration dates. You’ll want to remind loved ones if you give them a gift card to be sure and use it before that comes, especially if they aren’t the type to shop often.

Some people prefer to shop online. An e- gift card would be more convenient because it will quickly link to your purchases at that store using that e-gift card.