When It Comes to Holiday Gifts Cash is King

Despite offers from retailers and credit card companies, plastic is not always the preferred choice for gifting during the Christmas season. Ninety-three percent of Americans said they have or plan to send a gift card during the holidays because gift cards make giving easy. However, gift cards can become burdensome when you’ve relegated someone to eating at a restaurant or shopping at a retailer that doesn’t appeal to them.

The pressure and expectations of receiving “the perfect gift” from a loved one makes it difficult for those who prefer cold, hard cash. One blogger for the Washington Post sums it up with, “Please, just give me the money so I can buy what I really want — or need. Or pay a bill.”

For young adults especially, cash has always been king. They usually have an entirely different idea of what they want or need – such as money for college, or to purchase items for a dorm or new apartment - than the person giving the gift. Consider these statistics before deciding to shower loved ones with gift cards this holiday season:

  • Two-thirds of gift card recipients spent 38 percent more than the value of the gift card in 2016, meaning for every $50 gift card redeemed two out of three consumers spent an additional $20 of their own money that wouldn’t have otherwise been spent.

  • Close to a billion dollars went unredeemed via gift cards from 2015-2017.

  • The top 10 resold cards of 2017 were iTunes, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Apple, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Kohl’s.

  • The top 10 returned gift cards of 2017 were Safeway, Shell, Arco, Walmart, BP, Sunoco, Best Buy, Speedway, Target and Chevron.

  • In 2017, 46 percent of adults 25-34 years of age were most active in reselling gift cards, followed by 31 percent of adults between the ages of 18-24 according to Gift Card Granny.

Considering the statistics, gift cards aren’t so great and are usually much more convenient for the gifter than the recipient. They either create clutter from unredeemed cards lying around or coax the recipient into spending more than they can afford. Cash is much a much more flexible gift option, allowing people to purchase what they want or need. So, consider buying a pretty card and stuffing it with $20 bills this holiday season. The results are out and consumers clearly prefer cash.

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