Shopping Technology

Still Christmas Shopping? Good News Gift Cards Top Holiday Wish Lists

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American Express GC

American Express Gift card

If you’re not done with your Christmas /Holiday shopping, and perhaps are stressing, it’s never too late to buy a gift card for someone.  And even better, people love to receive gift cards.  Gone are the days where gift cards where looked at as a cop-out on holiday gift giving.   Consider giving a gift card not just for retail items, but for gas, food/groceries or even bill paying.  At The Recessionista we don’t recommend buying Visa or Mastercard gift cards, but we do like American Express gift cards, because no fees are deducted from the card.    According to the National Retail Federation (NRF),  this holiday season 8 in 10 (80.6%) shoppers will look to add gift cards to their Christmas list for gifting.  According to NRF’s Gift Card Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, holiday shoppers will spend an average of $163.16 on gift cards, up 4.0 percent over the $156.86 they spent last year and the highest amount in the survey’s 11-year history. 

wrapp app

The Wrapp App allows you to gift digital gift cards.

“Shoppers today recognize gift cards as the perfect fool-proof option for friends and family,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “And traditional gift cards aren’t the only winners this holiday season, as more and more Americans are tied to their mobile devices, we expect digital gift cards to be especially popular with consumers.”

For digital gift giving check out the WRAPP gift card app.  WRAPP allows consumers to give both free and paid gift cards via their mobile phone. The WRAPP app can plug-in to your Facebook profile to let you give digital gift cards to your Facebook friends.  I’ve used the app to give $5.00 free gift cards to friends for H&M.  I’ve used the WRAPP gift cards both online and in-store with success.   In-store, simply show the clerk your WRAPP card on your mobile phone to get the discount or gift card amount.

According to NRF’s first 2013 holiday survey, released in October, six in ten (59.4%) of those polled said they’d like to receive gift cards this year, the seventh year in a row gift cards have topped holiday celebrants’ wish lists.

Department stores (40.3%) and restaurants (34.2%) will be the top choices for those giving gift cards, but nearly one in five (19.0%) will give the gift of a hot cup of coffee (Starbucks, Dunk’in Donuts) – up from 13.0 percent in 2009. Additionally, 20.1 percent will purchase gift cards from an electronic store and 12.7 percent will head to an online merchant.

With gas prices hovering around $3.19 per gallon,   12 % of shoppers will buy gift cards from gas stations for gift giving, up from 11%  last year and the highest amount seen in five years.

Is there a down side to giving gift cards?  Absolutely.   Many people forget to use their gift cards or let them expire.   Check the details on the card for expiration dates, because gift cards should never expire.  Another pitfall of gift cards is the merchant the card was purchased from goes out of business before the giftee can use the card.  This is another reason to manage your gift cards carefully and keep track of the ones you receive.  There are even mobile apps like SWAGG available now to help you manage your gift cards and use them before they expire.


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.