Archive for the ‘Interesting’ Category

I came across this press release for a new biodegradable plastic product suitable for, among other things, gift cards.

Given how many gift cards are sold each year (billions), it is probably a good idea if they were all compostable.  Hey, how about credit cards too?

For me personally, biodegradable gift card would still make a mostly thoughtless gift in most cases.

You wouldn’t put cash in the mail, would you?  In some respects, putting cash in a letter can actually be safer than putting a fully activated gift card in the mail; as long as the envelope is thick enough to prevent the contents inside from showing through under a bright light.  Gift cards on the other hand can easily be felt in normal letters and especially greeting card-sized envelopes.

This has been a problem for a long time and hardly a week goes by where we don’t hear about a Postal employee (and even UPS) getting busted for stealing gift cards out of the mail.

So why aren’t gift card issuers doing anything to circumvent this?  For instance, how about allowing a gift card to be locked via the retailer or banks website, and only unlocked using a specific code that can be emailed to the recipient or sent in a different letter?  Or perhaps at the checkout counter providing an activation code on the receipt?

Gift cards have become a necessary evil in today’s society.  Even if you don’t buy them, they are so ubiquitous and easy (read, lazy) as last-minute gifts, you are bound to receive one or more per year.  So anything that makes gift cards easier to use is Ok by us.

It is no great secret that close-loop (store specific) gift cards are the better deal vs open-loop (Visa-type) gift cards; they typically have no up-front charge and do not carry fees.  Most state laws, and the new Federal laws, make them last a long time and you can cash out the last few bucks in many states.

That why this multi-restaurant gift card that a group of restaurants in Connecticut have created is such a good idea; it combines the convenience of an open-loop gift card with the value proposition of a closed-loop one.

I came across a recent promotion touting “Eclipse MasterCard debit cards: Collect them all.”

That made me wonder, is anyone that interested in a prepaid debit card to actually collect them?  Somehow I don’t see debit cards as collectibles like baseball cards (as in someone would want to collect them now) or nostalgia items (as in they will be worth a lot in a few decades).

Mobile gift card company Giiv, which allows people to send virtual gift cards to peoples mobile phones via SMS for companies including and Krispy Kreme, raised $3.35 million in venture funding, which complements their previously raised $2.3M.

Actually, instead of a gift card, the recipient receives a store redemption code, which can then be exchanged for a real gift card.

Oh great, now you have two ways to lose your gift card, you can delete or forget about the text, or lose or forget about your gift card.

I’m not sure why this offers a significant benefit over a normal gift card, other than making giving a gift card even more lazy on the part of the giver.  Now, you don’t have to bother even picking up or shipping your gift card.

Trying to be edgy and prove they fit in with the younger crowd (which just by the nature of their service they probably do), they call their service texting with benefits.

Repeat after me, there is no such thing as a collectible gift card.

No one will want to pay more for your gift card because you call it collectible.

Judd over at ScripSmart has tackled one of the things I’ve had on my list for a long time but never got around to – compiling information on all lots of individual gift cards.  Additional information included in his very useful site is information about gift card state laws, a comparison of state vs Federal gift card laws, and even the ability to track your gift cards and set personal alerts, if I understand how the site works correctly.

Definitely worth bookmarking.

Do people really get excited about things like this?  I personally don’t buy gift cards for people, so I don’t get excited about a gift card with a custom picture. has had the ability for customers to upload custom photos to be made into gift cards for some time, at a cost to the customer.  They recently announced that through their new PicPaid program, if someone else uses that image for a custom gift card, the person that uploaded it gets a credit of $0.25.

Plastic Jungle is apparently teaming up with Offerpal Media, which offers one form of virtual currency for use in online games, virtual worlds, and social networks, to give people the ability to convert unused gift card balances into virtual currency.

This is a good idea and ultimately offers people more ways to get the most use out of ALL the value on their gift cards.

Plastic Jungle has announced plans to work with retailers to give gift cards issued from one retailer the ability to be used at others.  For instance, you would theoretically be able to use a Wal-Mart gift card to purchase something online from, although both companies would have to agree to this.

The move would be heavily dependent on signing up retailers to participate, and there is not necessarily a benefit to retailers doing so. Retailers get quite a benefit from holding the cash represented by gift cards (they get to use that money for free until the gift card is spent), often times gift cards go unspent and the company keeps the funds (unless the State grabs it), and gift cards have the additional benefit of usually causing consumers to spend more than the face value of the card when they are in the store.  So, why would a retailer allow their gift card to be spent at other locations?  The proof is in the pudding, so we will have to see how many retailers sign up for this service., a gift card buy/sell/trading site, has launched a new social network-linked gift card exchange to allow people to buy, sell, or trade gift cards without the overhead involved in using a service.  Why is this better than Craigslist?  The idea is that with access to the other persons social network profile (aka Facebook), people can feel more comfortable doing business with them, versus some random person they might meet on Craigslist.

The Wikipedia page on gift cards has some interesting factoids:

1. Gift cards are the most highly wanted gifts by women but only the third highest by males

2. Gift cards ranked as the second most given gift by consumers in the US in 2006.

3. The US is WAY more gift card crazy than our bretheren in Canada or the UK.  While the gift card market is quoted as $80 billion in the US, Canada comes in at $1.8 billion and the UK at $8 billion.

Google’s auto-completions are always good for a few laughs and on occasion provide some interesting insight.

Clearly Google acknowledges that there are lots of problems with gift cards.

I must say, I totally misunderstood the purpose of this business where you can rent a gift card holder and thought it was meant for giving individual gift cards.  Turns out, the point is to rent a gift card holder for weddings to hold all the gift cards that people give you.  I find this in many ways kind of sad, that people would choose to simply give a gift card over something more personal.  But then again, most wedding gifts come from a list that the bride and groom choose for themselves so how much thought from the gift giver goes into the gift anyways?

Perhaps if this is where gift giving in general is headed.  Why not? and many online stores have a wish list?  Why not simply maintain a list of everything you want so people can easily find something you want.  Of course, this removes any chance of receiving something truly surprising out of the mix, which again, is kind of sad.

I previously reported on the first Australian market gift card buy/sell/trade site  What I missed with the first look at this company is that it was created by a 15 year old. is the first UK focused gift card site I’ve seen.  An interesting tidbit in the article about this site is the claim that up to 25% of gift cards in the UK are unspent.  The site will buy cards, trade them, or customers can donate them to charity.  Cards donated to charity do not incur commissions, something we have yet to see from similar US based sites that provide the ability to donate to charities.

I’m a little torn about this one. Friendgiftr has been infiltrating social networks with apps that allow people to purchase gift cards without ever having to leave sites like Facebook. You can also purchase them directly from their site. They recently announced a mobile device optimized store (but not native apps, why not?).

On the one hand, they do have a large selection of cards, but their selection isn’t much different than GiftCardMall, which, in addition to all the kiosks in grocery and other stores with lots of gift cards, sells them on their site.

Perhaps some people will get excited about a retailer like Friendgiftr, and it is convenient to have such a large selection of gift cards available all in one place. But I really can’t as I have never actually purchased a gift card as a gift. My interest in gift card comes from the fact that people seem to want to give them to me and I am such a cheapskate that I am determined to get every last dollar from every last one.

Thanks to the Buxr blog for recognizing our contribution to useful gift card info.

Plastic Jungle announced that it has raised $7.4 million from several Venture Capital firms and plans to use the money to accelerate product development and work on other ways to create supply and demand for gift cards on the site. This is in addition to the $6 million it raised in the middle of last year.

From what I have seen, most of the gift card auction/trading/buyback sites are focused on the US or Canadian markets. It is nice to see other markets getting some of these useful tools, like the new site, which serves the Australian market.