Ask the Readers: Do You Prefer Getting Gift Cards or Cash?

By Ashley Jacobs on 24 April 2012 (Updated 1 May 2012) 126 comments
Photo: iStockPhoto

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Peg Mooers, Kelly, and Z. R. for winning this week's contest!

Whenever the holidays or your birthday comes around, inevitably you will receive either gift cards or cash. Some people love getting gift cards to use at their favorite store or restaurant. However, others would prefer to take the cash and run!

Do you prefer getting gift cards or cash? Why? When it comes to giving someone else gift cards or cash, which do you prefer to give?

Tell us if you prefer getting gift cards or cash and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment on this article telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, April 30th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after April 30th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Selene M.

Cash is best but gift cards are a very close second.,

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Selene M.

I like you on Facebook as Selene Montgomery

Guest's picture
rm

Definitely cash. It's more flexible. I always forget about giftcards.

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Kelly

Cash is great, but I might use it on some random thing instead of a thoughtful gift from another person. So I think gift cards are better because then at least your not spending the gift on bills or groceries!

Guest's picture
Alicia

It depends! For example, I love to receive gift cards to the movie theatre and restaurants in our neighborhood, because it lets me feel like I can treat myself. The nice thing about receiving cash is that I can put it into the bank and it can help fund my savings!

Guest's picture
Alicia

I posted on your Facebook page!

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Lani C

I'd rather not get either, but I do have 2 little girls and for them I'd rather get cash. That way I can use it for either something they really need or for classes or camp, etc.

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Lani C

I like WB on Facebook.

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Catherine Robinson

I just liked Wise Bread on Facebook.

Guest's picture
Terri

I prefer gift cards, but that has only been true for the last year or so. As my husband and I began to prepare for an upcoming move we found ourselves prioritizing & de-cluttering our belongings. Amongst the many items I happily donated to GoodWill I found a disturbing number of gifts & purchases that I remember receiving in the past 1-3 years! I don't want my family to spend their money on things I will so quickly donate, so I've decided gift cards are a better, more thoughtful purchase for both them & me.

Guest's picture
Guest

GIFT CARDS - MONEY I MAY FRITTER AWAY ON "STUFF" BUT THE CARD I WILL USE FOR A GIFT TO ME

Guest's picture
Marci B.

Much prefer gift cards provided I choose the place. My mom understands that a B&N giftcard or an Itunes giftcard will provide me with opportunities to buy things I might not buy with a cash gift.

Guest's picture
Coll

Cash! That way you can use it anywhere. Although, gift cards do seem a little more personal.

Guest's picture
Coll

I also follow you on fB

Guest's picture
Carson M.

Personally, if I had to choose between giving/receiving a gift card or cash, I'd chose cash in both instances. They're both meant to be spent, the difference is that gift cards sometimes limit you to purchases only, whereas cash can be used to pay bills or even put into an account for savings purposes. Cash just seems much more flexible.

Guest's picture
Valerie

I prefer cash, but I think some people don't like to give cash, and think gift cards are more acceptable.

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Valerie

I liked Wise Bread on Facebook.

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Nicholas

I don't mind gift cards if they are for a store I use often so that way the gift card doesn't just sit in my wallet. Otherwise, I would prefer cash as I can do whatever I want with it.

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Nicholas

I have wisebread liked on facebook.

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

Sometimes a gift card to a specific store that I like is nice. Money is great, but on occasion it can get mixed in and used for bills or something else, not for a special item/experience just for me, which is what I try to use gift cards/money for...something I might not normally buy, a splurge.

Guest's picture
Diane

Generally I prefer cash, though I LOVE Amazon gift cards! Restaurant & specific vendor gift cards I'm not so fond of...

Guest's picture
Conrad Zutavern

I prefer receiving gift cards because they send me to restaurants or shopping sites that I would not necessarily frequent, but would enjoy.

Guest's picture
Diane

I like Wisebread on facebook!

The Family CEO's picture

I like cards to Target or Amazon or somewhere else with lots of things you can use it for. Otherwise, I prefer cash. I think we've all probably received a card to a restaurant or store that's not really our taste. Cash eliminates that. And you can fold cash into little origami shapes that make it a creative gift too. :)

Guest's picture
judyyy

that is a hard question as I love both but will vote for cash!

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judyyy

I like you on facebook

Guest's picture
Margaret

I don't mind receiving gift cards from people who know me well and know at which stores I shop. However, I prefer cash from others in lieu of cards to locations that either I don't shop or aren't even in my area.

A few years ago, a well meaning aunt sent me a gift card for a petite women's clothier. Unfortunately it is only in the Northeast (where she lives) not the Southeast (where I live) and while I am only 5' I wear a "women's" size and the store only carried to size 12. The card didn't apply to anyone else in my family due to location and size either. I finally "re-gifted" through a work associate who had family in that area and loved that store.

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Chris

I'd go with gift card. But honestly either one would suffice.

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Christie

It depends on the gift cards! A gift card for eating out at my favorite restaurants, shopping at my favorite local stores, or gift cards for my favorite online sites are always welcome. I find that gifts of cash are saved usually and not spent, unless the cash is for something specific that I'm saving towards anyway. Either way, gifts are fun!

Guest's picture
Christie

I liked your facebook post and commented there too! :)

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Guest

Cash--can spend it anywhere I want when I want--and NO EXPIRATION.

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Lori S

Here's my tweet https://twitter.com/#!/thriftyfoodies/status/194815359021359104

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Lori S

Already a longtime follower on Facebook.

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Lori S

Cash PLEASE!

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Micah C. Day

Cash, absolutely! Cold, hard cash!

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Peter Ward

Straight cash, hommie!

Guest's picture

either one is good for me

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Therese

Either one is good, but I prefer gift cards because then I remember it was specifically earmaked for something special. Cash tends to gets mixed in with everyday spending.

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Stacy L.

Both are great - but it seems like cash gets spent so much quicker, and on things that don't always feel "special." So in that way, gift cards are more fun to have!

Guest's picture
Sandra

Gift card

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Cindy Smith

I prefer gift cards.....and VISA ones work everywhere!

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Kristy OT

Cash. Because maybe my great-aunt and I differ on our ideas of what stores are fun to shop at.

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Betty

I think I have to choose gift card. Although cash is wonderful, I'd probably use it to pay a bill instead of treating myself to something.

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Betty

I liked you and your post on facebook.

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Betty

Responded on Twitter. https://twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/194826694757072896

Guest's picture

I prefer getting gift cards, and I prefer giving something homemade.

Guest's picture
Kate

It depends. Sometimes it's nice to have some money that can only be used for getting something new (maybe something fun, or something that I need and have been putting off purchasing). However, sometimes I also really like getting extra cash that I can just throw into savings. :)

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Sara N

I prefer cash!

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Kaye

Cash - definitely. That way I'm not limited on where I spend it (and for those sponsored "cash cards" there is no fee to use it).

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Alyson M.

Cash is too easy to throw in my wallet and then spend on, like, diapers or groceries or something. If it's meant to be a gift, gift cards are better because those I'll spend on myself. The key is that it has to be a *good* gift card!

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Lisa D

I prefer cash, but won't turn down a gift card either! It's nice to be remembered when it comes to gifts.

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Alex J

I prefer to receive cash due to its flexibility, but oddly prefer to give gift cards because I think they mean more to the recipient than cash.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

I prefer gift cards as long as they're actually for stores that I like. Taking the time to find out what kind of stores and brands I like is a nice gesture for giving a gift. (Cash is certainly easier to use, but it doesn't come across as quite so thoughtful.)

Guest's picture
reeder

Prefer cash. Sometimes I don't use a gift card in a timely manner and just re-gift or consider gift card resale sites. It is still a nice gift, just not as versatile. Saved many years of cash gifts for a "rainy day" and they helped pay for grad school! Best gift ever.

Guest's picture
Patrick

I prefer to receive cash due to flexibility, although it does come with a feeling that the person must have had absolutely no idea what to get me. They couldn't even decide where I might like a gift card from :)

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Brenda Faulkenr

I prefer cash - that way I don't have to be limited to certain registers.

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Brenda Faulkner

I follow you on Facebook!

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KelR1

Cash is king, but I would gratefully accept either one!

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KelR1

Like you on FB as Kelli Rolvaag.

Guest's picture
KelR1

Tweeted answer:

https://twitter.com/#!/KelRo1/status/194872590060371968

Guest's picture
Guest

I like thoughtful gift cards. For example, I really appreciate a Starbucks gift card, because I don't allow myself to buy expensive coffee normally. That makes it a real treat, and a real gift.

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Hollie

I prefer gift cards. Cash is too easily absorbed into our routine bills, but a gift card feels like a treat when I use it. I'd rather give gift cards if I know of a place that the recipient really likes or frequents often.

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Darlene

I prefer gift cards -- if I'm given cash, chances are I'll spend it on a bill or on groceries. (to the point that when my mother gives me cash for my birthday she explicitly informs me that I am NOT to pay a bill with it). Assuming that it's a gift card for somewhere I actually shop, of course!

Guest's picture
Chris B

I think it depends on who the recipient is. If I am winning it, I would prefer cash or Visa/Amex type gift cards before store cards. If it is a gift I am receiving, cash is nice, but I don't want my kids giving me cash for a Birthday present. The same goes for if I am the giver. I don't want to give my Mom cash, but for my kids it would be OK.

Guest's picture
Ellen B

I prefer cash so that you can buy what you want where you want it. Gift cards are ok too but limit you.

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Ellen B

Liked you on facebook

Guest's picture

I prefer to get gift cards, because (1) the gift giver at least has to show they know something about my interests (i.e., the type of dining I enjoy, the type of stores I frequent, or something I might really want but not necessarily need, and could pay for all or part of with their gift card); (2) the gift card still leaves me free to choose what I want at the selected business exactly the way I want it; and (3) I will actually use it for the type of gift intended by the giver (whereas the cash could get used for anything, including stupid stuff or normal stuff -- like toilet paper -- blehh). Of course, I would like the gift card to in fact be for a business I would use and not one I would never go to (because then it would be wasted, or I would re-gift it to someone who likes that business, and never get to enjoy the gift myself). I had a boss that always gave me gift cards to Starbucks -- he never once saw me drink coffee in the 5 years I worked for him, because I do not drink coffee -- not a very considerate gift giver. I hated getting gift cards from him. But everyone else who gives me gift cards seems to actually get them for businesses I would gladly redeem them at.

Guest's picture
Ellen B

https://twitter.com/#!/elliebunny24/status/194905058293465088
tweeted

Guest's picture
Steph

cash for me! straight into savings. but gift cards work too.

Guest's picture
Steph

https://twitter.com/#!/scg003twitparty/status/194908532624207872

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Steph

i like on FB

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NJJ

I prefer cash since its easier for me to use and since gift card stores aside from major retailers are really limited in my area :)

Guest's picture
Nancy

I prefer getting gift cards rather than cash, but only if the giver has considerately chosen the card to reflect my interests (such as reading, gardening, movies, cooking) or ones for nearby businesses where I can redeem them conveniently for items I truly need or for a bit of splurge (such as the grocery store, the home improvement center, even the pharmacy.) I also vastly prefer to give gift cards over cash, because they show a bit more effort and consideration, and--the biggest plus of all--I can often purchase them at a discount and give more value for the money I have in my gift budget.

Guest's picture
Lynda

i prefer cash but gift cards are definitely welcome too!

Guest's picture
Lynda

tweeted https://twitter.com/#!/oshkoshbgosh123/status/194941458908856321

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Lynda

i like wisebread on fb

Guest's picture
DeeDee

Cash please! I like having options.

Guest's picture
Aaron L

Gift card if it means a lot and is to somewhere special or where you usually wouldn't buy something at.

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Aaron L

I like you on Facebook.

Guest's picture
Aaron L

https://twitter.com/#!/linjiunhan/status/194954828278005760

Guest's picture
Jessica

I really would not complain about receiving cash or a gift card BUT if I absolutely had to make a decision I suppose I would go to cash. Gift cards do tend to bury themselves deep into the pockets of my wallet. They become forgotten for months and months until about ten minutes after I finally make a purchase for which I could have used that gift card. And then the cycle continues...

Guest's picture
Z. R.

I prefer gift cards issued by major credit card companies-- they are less tacky than receiving cash, and they allow purchasing flexibility.

Guest's picture

I prefer cash, but if it's a gift card to somewhere I frequently shop, that will do as well. Well I'll take anything!

Guest's picture

Liked you on FB!

Guest's picture

https://twitter.com/#!/missluckybreaks/status/195004294573993985

Donna Freedman's picture

I like you on Facebook.

Donna Freedman's picture

Tweeted a response.
https://twitter.com/#!/DLFreedman/status/195043696620732416

Donna Freedman's picture

I prefer gift cards because they feel like indulgences. If someone gave me $20, I'd put it in my emergency fund or my cash cache, or send it to my daughter or my niece.
Of course, I might also send either of those two women a gift card, or give it away on my personal website. But there's also the chance, however faint, that I would use it on something for myself.

Guest's picture

I'd much rather get cash. That allows me to do what I want with the money. Invest it, spend it, pay off debt with it, the choice is mine. With a gift card, I am limited to spending it at a specific store. Granted I could sell it online, but at the end of the day, that takes some of my time and I won't get the face value for the card in cash.

Guest's picture
Monica

I would say cash, because then you can spend it wherever, but it just goes to bills which is fine, but a giftcard is used more as a gift for myself or family and it can be more fun than just on the bills.

Guest's picture
Monica

I tweeted! https://twitter.com/#!/Monzarts/status/195133842745589760

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Monica

I like you on facebook!

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jennifer

I think that both are great to give and receive. There are times when a gift card allows you to buy something more specific for yourself that you might not otherwise allow, like receiving an Amazon or B&N gift card and buying a good book or two that you've wanted for a while. In other instances, receiving cash that can be used towards spending money for a vacation, a nice dinner out or saving up for a bigger goal can also be appreciated. When deciding whether to give cash or a gift card, if you immediately know what gift card to choose and you know the person will use it, go with the gift card, if not, and you find yourself rummaging the gift card rack at the grocery store, you might be better off using cash...

Guest's picture
Duane

Money! I can use it anywhere, anytime. I can put it away and not worry that it will expire.

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Sue

It depends. I like Amazon cards, I can always use those, but sometimes you get cards from places the giver likes and not necessarily where the recipient wants to shop. Cash, however, is more versatile and can be used on anything.

Guest's picture
Guest

Gift cards are fine if, and only if, there is a store near you and it is a store you would shop at anyway. Otherwise I'd prefer cash. That's why you can't go wrong with general internet companies that sell anything and sometimes mass merchandising stores. Knowing the recipient is important too. Don't give a card for a pedicure to someone who doesn't want that sort of thing or a $5 gift care to a Neiman Marcus store where you can't get anything for that amount.

Guest's picture
Holly

I prefer to get gift cards because when I receive cash as a gift the cash tends to get frittered away on daily expenses that pop up. I tend to save a gift card and use it for a specific birthday or special occasion splurge, which I generally think is what most people that give gifts intend the gift to be.

Carmen Grant's picture

I like getting Visa/MC/Amex gift cards that I can use anywhere!

Guest's picture
Julie

I like giving and receiving gift cards! I received a gift card for a store that I rarely get to shop. It gave me an excuse to go & look "just for me". I wouldn't give a gift card to someone for a store or restaurant that I'm not sure the recipient will love!

Guest's picture
Julie

I liked your link to this post on FB.