As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

Gift Cards Denote Laziness?

This article was written by in Consumer. 7 comments.

Do you give gift cards? Liz Pulliam Weston does not like gift cards or gift certificates and she believes they say that the giver doesn’t care about the recipient’s wishes and desires. But young people seem to be happy to receive gift cards and they grow increasingly popular.

Updated February 7, 2012 and originally published November 14, 2005. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

Email Email Print Print
Points: ♦127,645
Rank: Platinum
About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .


avatar Jose

Cash is easier for both parties.

A recent post on this on my website.
Money and Investing

avatar Lauren

I definitely prefer to buy an actual gift for someone. I enjoy hunting down just the right thing. However, there’s something really great about gift cards…a HUGE number of people list shopping as one of their favorite things to do, and by giving a gift card, you’re not only giving them a gift, but also giving them the opportunity to go shopping without guilt. Maybe I’m just one of those young’uns they mention loving gift cards, but I know I always loved getting a card so that not only did I get something new, but I got to go looking around for whatever I wanted!

avatar Michael

Ah, my wife hates it when I give gift cards. “It requires no thought,” she says, “and no creativity.”

Which is absolutely the case. And I’m good with that. Personally, I love getting gift cards. There’s not much better, in my world, than an Amazon gift certificate or a Best Buy or Home Depot gift card. I’ll use those things, and I’ll appreciate them, and I’ll appreciate the fact that whoever gave me the gift took a moment to IGNORE THE SENTIMENTAL CRAP about “creative gifting” and just gave me something that I would enjoy. :)

avatar Luke Landes ♦127,645 (Platinum)

Sure cash is easier, but that doesn’t have to do with the article. The point is that giving a gift card “says something” about the attitude of giver, according to the author. Cash is easier, but perhaps that shows that the giver couldn’t be bothered to determine what store might have something desirable, much less determine what gift the friend (or in Jose’s case, the “other party”) might enjoy.

avatar maribeth

Gift cards from your co-workers, casual acquaintances, relatives you rarely see? Fine. It’s thoughtful that they gave you anything at all. Cash would be bizarre in this situation.

Gift cards from your parents/grandparents/siblings/kids? Not horrible. They probably know you well enough to know what projects or hobbies you might need supplies for, but don’t want to get the wrong thing. At the very least they know your favorite stores. Cash is acceptable from anyone at least one generation older than you.

Gift cards from your significant other/spouse? LAME! Cash? Dump ‘em. Clearly they can’t even be bothered to go make or buy you something.

avatar UncommonWay

I sometimes find myself wanting to get a gift for somebody, but have no idea what exactly it is that they want. For example, my wife is into scrapbooking. I have no idea what kind of scrapbooking paper she’d like, and I probably shouldn’t choose it anyway because I’m colorblind, so the alternative is a gift card.

Gift cards don’t say, “I don’t care.” What says, “I don’t care,” is when you get a gift “for” somebody that’s actually something that you wanted. My joke about this is is that instead of the traditional “To:” and “From:” labels that go on gifts, this type of gift should have a label that reads “To:” and “For:”

Anyway, I’d much rather receive a gift card to a store that I like than to receive a gift that I’ll have to return because it’s all wrong for me.

avatar tim

I think it is OK to give a gift card if you honestly can’t come up with another gift idea. Just try to pick a great store you know the recipient would enjoy. Maybe a specialty store that they normally would not splurge in. My wife loves Bath and Body Works but I know she would not treat herself unless she was given a gift certificate.