The growth of Gift Cards I

Google News Archive (historical news archives) has a great feature that shows a timline with the frequency a search term shows up in articles. Searching on “gift card” gives the following timeline.

This is a pretty good representation of the rise of gift cards. This timeline has gift cards on the scene way before I thought they were popular, which I previously thought was 2002.

Before about 1998, a gift card was a card that came with a gift apparently if you look at some of the hits. 2008 is smaller because it is not yet done (duh).

Also interesting, I found a reference to prepaid Visa gift cards from 2000. I think that after 9/11, pressure was put on the debit card gift card issuers to make them scarce because they were hard to trace (i.e. National Security issue). They disappeared for a few years mostly and then started making a comeback in the last few years. They were certainly a lot harder to find a few years ago than they are now. In 2005 I could only find them at the mall; now they are in just about every grocery store.