I am forced to weigh in on this subject after reading this morning’s article in the Wall St. Journal with the above-styled headline. A Gift Card is a fraud perpetrated by business on you, the victim. What you are doing is
1) Letting them earn interest on the money you paid for the card from the moment the transaction is done
2) Giving someone the equivalent of money that’s only good in one store, the one you decide they can spend it in
3) Giving someone money that starts losing its value right away, as inflation chews at it
4) Giving someone money that can lose several dollars a month in face value as Visa subtracts cash off the card
5) Giving someone money that can lose its value entirely once it expires
How stupid can you be? Give ‘em crisp new bills in an envelope if appearances matter, but don’t punish the gift recipient, for crying out loud. Money isn’t evil or dirty, and you don’t have to go along with the subliminal message sent by Gift Cards that it is. This year some $45 billion dollars worth of Gift Cards were sold, up 15-20% from last year. Subvert the dominant paradigm: bag that card!