Gift cards ease shopping

Karl Terry

Did you get a little piece of plastic in your stocking this Christmas?

Business experts say Americans gave a record amount of gift cards this Christmas. According to the National Retail Foundation the average person in the U.S. gave $145.61 in gift cards this year. Nearly $25 billion was likely spent this year on the plastic shopping sprees.

I’ve received more and more gift cards every year and I admit I do like them and I try to actually buy a gift with them. Either clothes that I need or the item I’ve felt just a little too guilty to purchase outright. I don’t see a big problem with giving and receiving them.

My wife on the other hand hasn’t been able to stand the thought. She’s one of those old-fashioned sorts who believes a person should put some thought into a gift. She’s never going to knit someone a scarf for Christmas but she’s always wanted to make it personal.

That all changed this year.

Usually the Christmas shopping in our house is divided along the gender and parent line. She buys for the girls and I buy for the guys and we’ve each been responsible for our own parents.

This year I told her the guys were all getting gift cards and for a few days she was pretty peeved at me. Then she decided the girls would get a small gift along with a gift card.

If this shopping card scheme has cracked my wife’s sensibilities then you know its time has arrived. I’m guessing she won’t have any problem using the cards she received either.

I thought that a shopping card is something that a person can’t exchange. It’s like cash used to be, the perfect size, the perfect color and always works right.

But apparently there is an option out there for those of you who are really hard to please.

That’s right, if you got a gift card to say, Red Lobster and you hate seafood you can actually trade that card online for a Sears card at a website called plasticjungle.com. The site takes a margin of the card to do the transaction and then resells the card to a lobster lover.

With the new credit card regulations enacted this fall people who mislay a shopping card can rest easy, the card has to remain active for a minimum of five years now.

I guess it still makes the cash registers ring and speaking from experience it does take the stress of shopping out of the holidays. I do miss all the wrapped packages under the tree but what the heck, the stores are open today and I have a shopping card burning a hole in my pocket.