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Gift Cards, E-Gift Cards, and The Security of Giving Them

The season of giving is just around the corner and if you are anything like millions of American gifters, you want to avoid the cold, the crowds and the rush of the season. Why? You’d rather spend as much time as possible enjoying the season’s festivities… Enter the gift card: That’s right, whether they are embossed with the logo of a major creditor like Visa, Master Card or American Express or a store card like Starbucks, Best Buy or TJ Maxx, the gift card has revolutionized the way we gift those we love. Gift cards, and e-gift cards, have become so popular these days, even has partnered with eGifter to “simlify and streamlime” cryptic gift card giving this holiday season.

Gift cards take the stress out of shopping for that perfect gift and are a bit less pretentious than plain cash by allowing the recipient to take their gifted card to the store in person or online and buy what suits their personal taste. There’s no guessing when you gift a gift card. There’s also no money wasted and your gift doesn’t end up in the back of their closet, in no man’s land, awaiting its fate which many of us know is in a bin at the local Goodwill.

Yes, gift cards solve the problem of finding the perfect and/or last-minute gift. There is one historical problem with the gift card until recently, however.

In the past, gift cards and their predecessors, the gift certificate, had to be purchased in-store. As their popularity surged, gift cards made their way into grocery stores and big box department stores like Walmart and Target. First, only the gift cards backed by major creditors and then merchant gift cards followed. As more people began using their smartphones and tablets to make purchases on the go, the gift card also evolved and the e-gift card became widely available.

The e-gift card can be purchased and sent to the recipient of your gift remotely, without visiting stores and can be sent directly to their email or smartphone. These e-gift cards are widely available and easily accessible. The gifted gets notification of their active e-card and from whom they’ve received their e-card and the gifter gets notification their recipient has accessed and received their e-gift card. But, in a world where hacking, trolling and internet theft are commonplace, how safe are e-gift cards and the information needed for their purchase?

E-gift cards provide recipients a redemption code that allows them to do their shopping online or print out a physical card that may be redeemed in a brick and mortar location. E-gift cards are a bit easier to trace if the redemption code is lost ore misplaced or erased. Still, the e-gift card is not without risk.

Because consumers provide so much information over a secure connection to purchase the card, this makes it easier to trace the lost redemption codes. However, there is a certain amount of trust a purchaser must place in the merchants to keep their information secure and avert fraud. The best way to ensure the integrity of your data and the safety of the card and your accounts, is to inform recipients the gift is coming so they know to look for it and redeem it as soon as possible. For the most part, the e-gift card can be easily replaced without cost by simply resupplying the redemption code or alerting the merchant that you suspect fraud and request a new redemption code after providing identifying information to prove you are the purchaser. Like with traditional gift cards, e-cards can be purchased in amounts ranging from $5 – $1,000. Check with each merchant for details.

Planning to giveaway some of these this holiday season? Comment below and let us know your thoughts. Want to keep them private? Shoot us an email to, or find us on Twitter, FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, or even connect with us directly on our website! We look forward to hearing from all of you.

About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, and co-host and producer of  “All Our Own” radio show and podcast and co-host of “Staggers State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been featured on MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers.

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