5 gift cards not to buy your friends

This is the first post in a two-part series on giving gift cards. According to a study by Accenture, 57 percent of people have gift cards on their shopping lists this year. In the next post I’ll cover rules to follow when giving gift cards. 

CBS MoneyWatch lists 5 gift cards your friends don’t want as follows:

  • Airlines
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Spa Treatments
  • Boutiques & High-End Retail
  • Off-Season Shops
Gift card resale companies end up with a surplus of unwanted gift cards each year when the holidays are over. These companies see the above categories most often. So you’ll probably want to avoid these categories unless you know specifically that your recipient will use it.

Here’s my take on these:

  • I don’t remember the last time I bought an airline ticket directly from an airline. I normally use an online travel agency like Expedia or Kayak. In recent years more airlines have added fees for baggage and who knows what else, which has opened up a new area of competition in the airline industry. Giving a gift card for a specific airline only limits the choices of the recipient. They especially recommend avoiding Continental and American Airlines — the two most common airline gift cards listed.
  • I’ve received a Barnes & Noble gift card in the past, which I used to buy some new books. But I could have easily bought these books for less than half the cost from Amazon or elsewhere online.
  • I’ve never been to a spa so I can’t speak for this one.
  • In this tough economy, most people aren’t looking for luxury purchases from high-end retail stores. I would lump this one in with spa treatments and say that cash is better.
  • The issue with seasonal gift cards, such as those for Christmas stores or sunglasses shops, is that the recipient may lose track of their gift card before the time to use it comes around. Again, cash wins.

Were you planning to buy any gift cards on this list?

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