What is the obsession with gift cards?

CNN is running a list of the top 35 most outrageous fees (and how to avoid them). Number 18 is Gift-card activation fee. I just don’t understand people’s obsession with giving a gift card. I received two gift cards for my birthday, three for Christmas. My wife received several. But why not give cash? Cash has no service fees; it does not expire; and I can use it anywhere.

When I receive a gift card, it encourages me to spend extra money on something. The $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble, I spent an extra $5 and change for two books. Those two books I could have gotten more cheaply at Amazon. At the Olive Garden, I spent an extra $4 to cover tax and tip. Yes, with cash, I probably wouldn’t have eaten at the Olive Garden. But that $25 would have been just as appreciated. What am I just not understanding about the lure of a gift card?

One Comment

  1. I think a gift card, even though I don’t like to give or receive them either, makes the present seem more “special” or interesting…maybe?

    I thought about giving nothing but gift cards this past Christmas, but come to find out, giving the actual gift saved ME money…


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