Definition, Types, and Avoidance Scams of Gift Cards

A Gift Card: What Is It?

A gift card is a type of prepaid debit card that has a predetermined amount of money on it that may be used for a range of transactions. While general-use prepaid gift cards are not associated with any particular shop and may also be used to withdraw cash from automated teller machines (ATMs), store gift cards are intended to be used at specific merchants or stores.

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How a Reward Card Operates

Prepaid debit cards that are filled with money for later usage are known as gift cards. Open-loop and closed-loop gift cards are the two main categories. Usually, both kinds may be utilized both offline and online.

Numerous gift cards, commonly referred to as stored value cards, come with an initial loading amount minimum and limit. For instance, there can be a $500 maximum and a $10 minimum. Gift cards may be used in some circumstances to cover a portion of a transaction, with the remaining amount being paid using cash, debit, or credit. Many gift cards may also be registered online, which reduces the possibility of losses and enables the remaining amount to be tracked and frozen in the event that a card is misplaced. Certain gift cards are safer in this regard than cash.

Digital Gift Cards

Stores frequently advertise closed-loop gift cards, which let the bearer buy anything from that particular merchant. Typically, closed-loop cards may only be used in-store or online at a single retailer. Nonetheless, a single corporation may offer gift cards that are redeemable at all of its merchants if it owns many stores. One such company is Gap Inc. (GPS); its credit cards are often accepted at all of its partner retailers, such as Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta.

Gift cards that are closed-loop often don’t have any activation costs. These gift cards also feature the merchant’s emblem, which serves as a kind of business advertisement, rather than the brand of the processor—the financial services organization that actually manages the transaction mechanics.

When the amount on a closed-loop gift card is depleted, it is typically not possible to add more funds, making it useless. Additionally, money on a closed-loop gift card could have an expiration date that the user has to utilize the card before. Gifts with closed loops are common for baby and wedding registries. In addition, a lot of retailers give closed-loop gift cards as an incentive to those who register for their registries.

Gift Cards with Open Loops

Open-loop gift cards function similarly to cash, or more accurately, as a credit or debit card that may be used online and at any participating merchant. Open-loop gift cards are available from a number of the major charge and credit card issuers and processors, including American Express, Visa, Discover, and MasterCard. These cards may be used almost anyplace to make any kind of electronic payment and will have the logo of the payment processor.

Another benefit of open-loop gift cards is that they may be used like regular prepaid cards. Since these cards are often reloadable, the user has the option to add money on their own.

Electronic Gift Cards

According to Mageplaza, an extension marketplace for the open-source Magento commerce platform, gift cards made their debut in 1994. Businesses are choosing more and more to provide consumers with digital gift cards as a way to entice them to spend more money.

Bonus gift cards are sent to loyalty program members of upscale department shops like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman (who have spent a specific amount during a campaign or over a given time period). Nonetheless, a National Gift Card (NGC) industry survey indicates that 75% of the volume in gift card program redemptions is still made using physical cards, as opposed to 25% with digital gift cards.

Scams involving gift cards

Scammers are increasingly focusing on gift cards. In the first nine months of 2021, customers reported losing $148 million to gift card scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The main focus of these con games was con artists requesting that victims buy gift cards to be used as payment. Under the false impression that they are making a valid payment, the customer gives the con artist the gift card number. After that, the con artist steals the money.

Physical cards that are compromised at a store are the subject of another fraud. To get the gift card number, con artists tamper with the cards. The con artists can then use the card to make purchases in order to steal the money that the customer loaded onto it after purchasing the card.

Target gift cards are very well-liked by con artists; in 2021, they accounted for $35 million in losses that were documented.

What is a card for gifts?

A prepaid card that may be used for purchases and other financial operations is called a gift card. There are two types of gift cards: open loop and closed loop, which affect the card’s usage restrictions.

Is it possible to get cash out of an ATM using a gift card?

If the gift card permits it, you can use it to make cash withdrawals from ATMs. This is usually limited to open-loop cards—that is, cards that aren’t connected to any one retailer or brand.

Do gift cards contain fees or an expiry date?

If the funds deposited onto a gift card are not spent within a predetermined amount of time, the card may expire, depending on the specifics. In addition, there are costs associated with reloading an existing gift card or activating a new one. In addition, many prepaid gift cards could have dormant-account or monthly fees.

The Final Word

Gift cards come in handy for both in-store and online purchases. You may buy them to present to loved ones, or you might be able to get gift cards as a reward for making purchases from a certain retailer. It’s critical to comprehend how gift cards operate and the locations in which they may be used to prevent costs and the possibility of a gift card expiring. However, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for gift card fraud, particularly around the holidays when more individuals purchase and use them for purchases.