Thoughts on Kids and Gift Cards

Thoughts on Kids and Gift Cards

Ahhh, gift cards. The gift we all love to hate. Sure, they’re convenient (for the giver) and they seem (again, to the giver) like they’re more thoughtful than cash, but they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always thankful when I receive a gift, and I do recognize the ease of grabbing a gift card when I need to buy a gift on short order, but I still have mixed feelings when it comes to gift cards.

Over the weekend, our (now) ten year old son had a birthday party, and he made out like a bandit. He got a number of great gifts, as well as some cash and several gift cards. He was thrilled, but those gift cards often cause headaches.

They frequently require an extra trip to a store we rarely visit, and they often require a bit of extra spending to spend them out in a single visit. And don’t forget about the risk of losing them while hauling them around waiting for a chance to spend them.

To combat these problems, we’ve developed a system for helping our kids make the most of any gift cards they receive. For cards from mainstream retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, or Amazon, we usually make them a deal… They give us the card, which we’ll use while going about our daily business, and we give them cash.

In this way, the cards get used in a timely fashion, the risk of loss is reduced, and our kids get flexibility to make use of the gift however they want. Sure, one could argue that we’re subverting the giver’s wishes, but I’m more interested in making sure that the gift gets used.

Of course, this doesn’t really apply to cards from places like GameStop, where we rarely shop on our own. But when it comes to places we shop on a regular basis, this works out quite well.

Oh, and for the record, if we don’t have time to shop for a proper gift when our kids are invited to a birthday party, we’ll often secure a bunch of dollar coins inside the birthday card rather than giving a gift card. This is a much more flexible gift, and it’s unique enough that it makes an impression on the recipient.

5 Responses to “Thoughts on Kids and Gift Cards”

  1. Anonymous

    I don’t like when my kids get gift cards either and your idea is great. I prefer when they get cash (usually from relatives). I have a deal with my kids. I give them a 100% match for every dollar they give me for their college fund (529). They love it because it make me “pay” them extra money and I love it because t encourages them to save vs spend.

  2. Anonymous

    I don’t mind getting gift cards, I would prefer cash but often I redeem them on Plastic Jungle or re-gift them. I’m not sure who would give a kid a walmart gift card(haha) but with big stores like that and target, you can always find things you need. For CA residents, you can request cash-out of a gift card when the value is under $10.

  3. Anonymous

    Our kid is too young to shop on her own, but we have received a handful of gift cards on her behalf (as well as our own). Some were to places like Gymboree, Kohls, etc that we rarely or never go to. Sometimes it takes multiple trips to find something on a low enough clearance price that we can stomach the price. We get all of her clothes and most of her toys used at yard sales and from craigslist, so it’s hard for us to buy a single shirt for even, say, $7 when we know we could get a pile of outfits for that price at a decent yard sale. Not to be ungrateful or anything. But we still have that Gymboree gift card kicking around somewhere. I hope it doesn’t expire.

  4. Anonymous

    I sold a gift card that I wasn’t going to use use online a little while ago, it worked out pretty well for me. The card can even be partially used which is pretty sweet, the only draw back is you generally only get around 80% of the value. If you can find a way to use them in the way you do it is better, but I guess it depends on circumstance.

Leave a Reply