How to Buy Gift Cards for Friends and Family That Won’t Go to Waste

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Written by Jacob Passy

Giving a gift card is often seen as a cop-out — but maybe that’s because so many gift cards go to waste.

How to buy gift cards that your friends and family will actually love to get as Christmas gift ideas! #giftideas #christmasgifts #giftguide #giftcardtips #gifttips

Gift cards are the second most popular holiday gift, with around 56% of purchasing one this time of year, according to data from the National Retail Federation, a trade organization for retailers. The only gift that’s more common is clothing and accessories, which are given by 59% of people.

Here’s how to avoid gifting a loved one with a gift card that wastes away in the back of their wallet.

Choose gift cards that will help your friend or loved one meet a goal

Savings and gifting platform Goalsetter offers digital gift cards, called GoalCards, which can be deposited into FDIC-insured savings accounts, regardless of whether the recipient already has an account with the site. With that money, a consumer can set up their account to save toward a specific goal. For children, the site automatically creates a savings account and an education fund.

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Similarly, for those looking to give to a friend or family member who is fresh out of college and starting on their path toward building their financial foundations, gift card for the micro-investing service Acorns, said Trae Bodge, shopping consultant for Gift Card Granny, a gift-card resale website, which clearly has a vested interest in people buying gift cards this holiday season.

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Opt for a digital gift card when possible

A lost or expired gift card is worthless for the recipient. The simple solution to avoid that fate: Go digital. “A record of the digital gift card will live in their emails so when they are ready to use the gift, they can access that email,” Bodge said.

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Smart Shopping Expert

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist, TV presenter, spokesperson, and educator, specializing in beauty, tech, apps, toys, gift guides, and smart shopping. She has appeared as an expert on dozens of TV shows and radio networks, including Today, Rachael Ray Show, Inside Edition, CNN, Reuters, CNBC.com, Sirius Radio, and numerous FOX, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. Trae has been featured as a beauty tastemaker in Elle, Redbook, InStyle, and Essence, and her work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, Marketwatch, USNews.com, Credit.com, CBSNews.com, Time.com.