6 Tips for Giving and Redeeming E-Gift Cards

Traditional gift cards are a common gift choice, but e-gift cards are growing in popularity. Last December, the Aite Group predicted virtual gift card sales would reach nearly $10 billion in 2015. After trying digital gift cards, I can see the appeal. However, they work a little differently than their plastic counterparts.

Get ready for the holiday season by learning more about giving and redeeming virtual gift cards.

1. Shop reputable retailers.
As with any gift cards, shop with familiar, trustworthy retailers. Check the FAQs for additional information and make sure there is a customer service phone number.

2. Make it personal.

Virtual gift cards often include various ways to customize the gift. Adding themed backgrounds, custom messages or a photo gives digital gift cards a personal touch.

3. Schedule a delivery.
Shopping for e-gift cards online is already convenient, but many merchants also allow you to schedule a delivery in advance. This makes it easy to deliver a gift on a special occasion or as a last minute pick me up.

4. Follow up.
Virtual gift cards typically arrive in an e-mail from the retailer. The subject line will usually include the sender’s name and indicate the message includes a gift card. However, you may want to let the recipient to know to watch for it.

If the recipient does not thank you, don’t chalk it up to a lapse in manners. Follow up and make sure the virtual gift arrived.

5. Read the fine print.
Read the redemption instructions carefully. I purchased an e-gift card for myself and the redemption company sent an e-mail notice with a link to print out the gift card. The instructions cautioned that clicking the e-mail link generated the printable gift card right away. If I did not print it right then or bookmark that page, I would not have been able to access it again.

Perhaps a flurry of customer service calls could remedy a lost gift card, but it is easier to pay attention to the directions and avoid snafus.

6. Don’t skimp on the printing.
I usually print in black and white to conserve ink, but learned to print e-gift cards in color. Like some CVS printable coupons, my CVS e-gift card did not print all the necessary info when I chose the black and white option. It had a barcode and scanned just fine, but it took the cashier a little while because it did not show a dollar value.

Based on their feedback, cashiers do not handle e-gift cards very often. It is easier to make a complete print out of the gift card so can they can see all the information.

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