This blog is a way for me to share hard learned lessons about money with those who are just starting out on their own. I hope it's a way for you to avoid making the mistakes I made, and to benefit from my experiences

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Gift Cards are Evil!

We've been sold a bill of goods when it comes to gift cards.

I have these "gift certificates" available in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations. They are good anywhere at any time. They're called CASH!

So why on Earth do we take these universal gift certificates, and turn them into gift cards, that are good only at 1 place, for merchandise and services only carried by them, only when they are open, and only at the price they offer?

Not only that, in many states, these gift cards can expire. I pay $50 bucks for a gift card at someone's favorite store, and if they don't cash it in 3 years (or whatever the terms) they're no good any more? Talk about a rip-off.

Also, have you ever noticed how these gift cards get misplaced, or set aside, and you find them later and go, "Oh yeah, I got that last Christmas. I forgot all about it." Have you ever noticed how that rarely happens with cash?

2 years ago, I wanted a DVD player. I had a $100 gift card I received for Sears. So I checked price online at major electronics stores and figured out what I wanted in a DVD player. If I could have bought anywhere, I would have bought a $49 one. As it was, the only one Sears had that I wanted, was $99. It's been a great DVD player, but at twice the price I would have paid otherwise.

Do yourself a favor. As long as it is socially acceptable, give your friends and relatives cash instead of gift cards. Consider it the ultimate gift certificate! Plus it also gives them the opportunity to save, pay down debt, or invest it, rather than be forced to spend it. Yet another reason Cash is King!

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