Just 27% of Americans Prefer to Receive Gift Cards, Yet 50% of Americans Plan to Give Them

NEW YORK – November 10, 2016 – Americans may want to put more thought into their gift-giving this holiday season.  According to a new Bankrate.com (NYSE:RATE) report, half of consumers say they plan to give a gift card this holiday season, yet only 27% of Americans hope to receive them.

Gift Cards

Gift Cards

Younger millennials (age 18-25) are most divided on their gift inclinations.  While 34% stated they would choose a gift card, more than any other age group, they were also the age group most likely to show a preference for a tangible gift (57%).  Just 9% of younger millennials didn’t express a preference between gift cards and tangible gifts, well below the 23% of other age groups who didn’t have a preference.

Older baby boomers, 62-70 year olds, were the least likely to prefer a more concrete gift (44%).  In fact, 66% of baby boomers who plan to buy gift cards this holiday season said it’s because they think a gift card will be the best gift for their recipient (54% of other age groups said that).

Gift Cards

“Finding a gift that suits each individual on your holiday list can be a challenging task,” said Bankrate.com analyst Mike Cetera.  “Given the vast selection, electronic delivery options and potential security features, gift cards are still a solid choice for many gift-givers.”

One security feature on the rise this year is the use of a personal identification number (PIN), with 67% of the cards having that option available.  This is up from 50% last year and 35% two years ago.  However, loss and theft protection features are declining.  Although 62% of cards have some form of loss and theft protection (most likely offered on e-cards), it has declined from 72% and 68% the past two years.

Gift Cards

Consumers who use their gift cards for regular purchases may not have to worry about a zero balance at the register.  64% of the cards are now reloadable, up from 60% last year and 52% two years ago.  There continue to be limitations as to where and in what form cards can be reloaded.  E-cards are not always reloadable, and some gift cards can only be reloaded in-store.

Additional findings:

  • 67% of the cards are available as e-cards.  40 of the 41 cards available as e-cards require an email or phone number to purchase.
  • 87% permit online balance check for gift card and/or e-card version, down from 92% last year but the same as 87% two years ago.
  • Purchase fees remain rare, with just 13% of the cards having any type of purchase fee, unchanged from last year and down from 17% two years ago.

Bankrate.com analyzed the terms and conditions of 61 widely-held gift cards September 12-23, 2016.

In addition, Bankrate.com commissioned Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) to survey consumers regarding their gift card habits.  PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults living in the continental United States.  Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (500, including 299 without a landline phone) from October 20-23, 2016.  Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies.  The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

About Bankrate.com

Bankrate.com provides consumers with the expert advice and tools needed to succeed throughout life’s financial journey. For over two decades, Bankrate.com has been a leading personal finance destination.  The company offers award-winning editorial content, competitive rate information, and calculators and tools across multiple categories, including mortgages, deposits, credit cards, retirement, automobile loans, and taxes. Bankrate aggregates rate information from over 4,800 institutions on more than 300 financial products. With coverage of over 600 local markets, Bankrate generates rate tables in all 50 U.S. states. Bankrate develops and provides web services to more than 100 cobranded websites with online partners, including some of the most trusted and frequently visited personal finance sites on the internet, such as Comcast, Yahoo!, CNBC and Bloomberg.  In addition, Bankrate licenses editorial content to more than 500 newspapers on a daily basis including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.

View the full survey here.