Gift Card Insights: Gift Card Usage Grows

Gift Card Insights

Over 3,300 U.S. consumers over the age of 18 were surveyed for this year’s Consumer Insights Study from First Data. The Consumer Insights study provides a comprehensive gift card insights on consumer usage. This year’s study shows how vital gift card programs are to a retailer’s marketing strategy. The popularity of online shopping and usage of mobile wallets have been embraced by consumers, as the desire grows for faster and more personalized shopping experiences.

Gift Cards Drive Revenue

We know that gift cards can drive traffic to your store, but how are they increasing retailers’ bottom line?

  • 70% of consumers have purchased or received closed-loop plastic or e-gift cards in the past 12 months
  • 52% of consumers say that receiving a gift card prompted them to visit a store more frequently while 40% say they wouldn’t even have visited the location if it weren’t for receiving the gift card
  • A whopping 69% of gift card recipients spend more than the value of their gift card
  • $27.29 was the average overspend, also known as lift

Virtual Gift Cards

Virtual gift cards, sometimes known as digital gift cards, eGift cards, and eCertificates continue to grow in popularity. While virtual gift cards are trending upwards, they are not taking market share away from plastic gift cards. Offering the right mix of both plastic and virtual gift cards is important.

Plastic gift cards

  • 25% of consumers are purchasing more plastic gift cards than last year
  • 58% of consumers purchased the same amount of plastic as last year
  • Consumers are spending an average of $58.95 on plastic gift cards, which is up 2.3% from 2014

Virtual gift cards

  • 48% of consumers purchased the same amount of virtual gift cards as last year
  • 41% of consumers purchased more virtual gift cards than last year
  • Virtual gift card spending was $56.98, up 3.8%

Mobile Wallets and Online Shopping

Mobile wallets and online shopping continue to grow along with the desire for perks and the overall “customer experience”.  Gift cards are becoming the ideal tool for customers who desire to be incentivized, rewarded, and recognized.  64% of shoppers would prefer to receive a $10 gift card as a reward for using retailer loyalty apps and mobile wallet programs (with 16% preferring the reward in the form of a coupon).

Other Interesting Gift Card Insights

In the last three years gift card self-purchasing has more than doubled. 45% of consumers purchased gift cards for themselves in 2015.  Self-purchasing gift cards are also popular across all generations: 49% of millennials, 44% of generation x, and 42% of baby boomers all reported self-purchasing gift cards in 2015. Gift cards aren’t just for giving!

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Gift Cards Go Virtual

We’ve spent some time over the last few weeks talking about gift card purchasing and gifting as the holiday shopping season heats up. However, it’s important to keep a secondary focus on trends going forward. Based on First Data’s latest Consumer Insights Survey, the future of gift cards is virtual. Here are a few key stats from the survey.

  • 33% of consumers (that’s 3 in 10) are purchasing more e-gift or virtual gift cards.
  • Online gift card purchases are up 8% from 2013.
  • 13% of survey respondents have used an app or social media site like Facebook to give virtual gift cards.

This survey indicates, as many consumer motivators do, that gift cards’ virtual and mobile potential takes the convenience factor of a gift card to the next level. The growth in virtual gift cards and virtual gifting could also be an early indication that consumers are adopting virtual and mobile payment technologies more frequently in their regular shopping routines. Gift cards can be an entry into using credit and debit cards, as gift cards present no risk to personal finance. It allows consumers to test the security of mobile and virtual payments without connecting any personal information. Once consumers become comfortable they can incorporate their own payment methods into the online and mobile systems. As the holiday season progresses we will see if this continues to trend.

Stay tuned, and let us know in the comments if you’re shifting gift cards or payments to your mobile phone or wallet.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

eGift Cards Show “No Sign of Slowing Down”

“The most popular gift on the planet…the gift card”, says the NECN Business video story on CashStar.  Nice video story about the rise in eGift cards. More and more companies are gifting these cards as incentives in their company rewards programs, like sales incentives, health and wellness rewards, and for increasing workplace safety. The B2B gift card marketplace is indeed growing with the help of innovations from companies like CashStar.

Good for the Gift Card and Incentive Business!

Nice highlight of our favorite gift card merchant, CVS/pharmacy!





Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.

The Prepaid Expo: Adapt or Die

It should be of no surprise that mobile payment was a choice topic at this year’s Prepaid Expo, but as purveyors of the B2B portion of retail sales; how will we get to mobile payment?

Retailers and merchants are living (or about to live) the latest technology and game changing concepts about the consumer waving their mobile device to pay. But the B2B portion of the market still has major issues to overcome. The questions that the Prepaid Expo asks ring loud in order to capture consumers and also ring true for your B2B customers and subsequent end-consumers:

What will be frictionless in your environment?
What will bring the greatest value?
What will be the best authentication?
What’s the best way to reduce cost?
How do you make prepaid product more relevant and valuable to cardholder before, during, after the
payment transaction?

Interesting quote from Bill Gates about the future: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”–Bill Gates

Mobile buying is inevitable, but are you considering B2B gift card sales in your mobile prepaid strategy? If not, when will you shape your change?

Read up on the Prepaid Expo’s Live from Prepaid Expo: The Future of Prepaid & Mobile

Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.

Are Retailers & Merchants Ready for the Tablet eCommerce Phenomenon?

Are you prepared for total immersion into e-tail? Facts to consider if your answer is NO:

  • 1 in 3 online consumers to use a tablet by 20141
  • The purchase conversion rate is 3% for shoppers using a traditional PC, it is 4% or 5% for shoppers using tablets, says Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research.2
  • Many retailers also report that tablet users place bigger orders—in some cases adding 10% to 20% more to the tab—on average than shoppers using PCs or smartphones.2

Although only approximately 50% of the top retailers are accepting gift cards online; we hope that advancements in buying will prompt retailers and merchants to accept their gift cards on line, in order
to capture the growing tablet shopper category. Many more retailers offer eGift Cards to consumers versus B2B, but we also hope that taking these first steps will ease retailers into offering eGift cards along with their plastic option in the B2B arena.

As a retailer, are you taking these interesting tablet user statistics into consideration?

1.    eMarketer Digital Intelligence
2.    WSJ Online: Tablets: Ultimate Buying Machines

Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.

eGift Cards: On the Rise, But How are They Perceived by B2B Buyers?

eGift and mobile gift cards are a popular topic as excitement grows around digital technologies. reports that one half of the major gift card brands that offer eGift cards only started offering them this year. Retailers and merchants are ramping up to take advantage of growing mobile and tablet buying segments, as they are quickly becoming some of the most valuable online shoppers.

Interestingly, when GCP recently surveyed B2B gift card buyers; we found that the B2B market still prefers to purchase physical plastic cards over

do you prefer egift cards or plastic

GCP's Survey Finds Plastic Most Favorable

digital. 86.5% of B2B gift card buyers surveyed are still more comfortable with traditional plastic. We know that trophy value plays a part in the B2B buyers’ strategy, but perhaps eGift cards are still somewhat too mystical for buyers. breaks it down simply and clearly with 3 Digital Gift Card Varieties

  • Email gifting is the most widespread, accounting for about 95% of the digital gifting market, recipients receiving the gift card in their
  • Mobile gifting lets consumers use a smartphone app to send a gift card or have a gift card sent to a mobile
  • Social gifting lets consumers send gift cards via social media sites. For example, lets customers send friends gift cards by posting the cards on their Facebook walls. CashStar’s CEO David Stone states that “Social gifting is growing at a rate of about 400 percent”

Are you ready to buy digital or are you still a fan of plastic? Why or Why NOT? Click here for the full E-gift cards take center stage story


Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.

The Sky is NOT Falling on Plastic Gift Cards

With all the hub bub about prepaid technologies like mobile wallets, mCerts and virtual gift cards, Ben Jackson from Mercator Advisory Group, offers us his calming and factual perspective in “The future form of closed-loop gift cards – Reports of plastic’s demise are greatly exaggerated”.

Ben examines 3 great lessons of history to temper the overstated destiny of plastic gift cards and advises “that new technologies do not always completely distance old ones”. The history lessons offer great perspective that “There will always be a place for plastic, but (the) day will soon arrive where virtual cards and mobile cards will be a necessary part of every issuer’s prepaid strategy. The task for issuers is to figure out what needs each form factor fills and tailor their program to make each work towards the best results”, states Jackson.

This is great advice for issuers, retailers and merchants as they look to grow their businesses with diversity versus alienating parties via the next big technology.

Source: Payments Journal, Mercator Perspectives




Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.

Virtual Wallets: What are they…Really?

This post might look familiar to you; we’ve added an update further down the page.

Wikipedia outlines a “Virtual Wallet” as a hybrid checking/savings account with 3 components: a “Spend” account (checking), a “Reserve” account (backup checking, incurs interest), and a”Growth” account (savings).

This is a pretty narrow view of a virtual wallet (note to self, update Wikipedia). Virtual wallets are cropping up not just from banks for online banking; they are being offered by credit card companies, SmartPhone providers, and there are even free versions that stores, manages, and organizes digital versions of store membership cards, coupons, loyalty cards, virtual gift cards,

or any other piece of information that you store in your traditional wallet. Windows even offers a PC software version of a virtual wallet, but it’s more focused on protecting all those passwords, account numbers, and access codes vs. making purchases and using your loyalty rewards points or gift cards.

GiftCard Partners feels the Virtual Wallet that will not only change our way of shopping, paying, and redeeming, but will also combine the best of the above types and allow us to:

  • Shop online, securely and easily with faster online check-outs

    Virtual Wallet

    Coming to a SmartPhone near you!

  • Manage credit card accounts, make payments online and in retail environments
  • Store and secure account information, gift cards, eCoupons from loss or theft
  • Manage gift cards, eCoupons, promotions & special offers
  • Manage & redeem loyalty program points, rewards, etc.
  • Interface with social networking sites


Since we made this post, Google Wallet is closer to reality. Although it’s not yet fully launched (as of 6/6/11), it has been formally announced. Google Wallet is a mobile app for the Android phone; you’ll be able to store credit cards, offers, loyalty cards and gift cards. “When you tap to pay, your phone will also automatically redeem offers and earn loyalty points for you. Someday, even things like boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys could be stored in Google Wallet.” says Rob von Behren and Jonathan Wall, Founding Engineers on Google Wallet. This could make boarding a train as simple as waving your phone near a pay-point, like a train terminal.

“Combined with Google Offers (look out Groupon), which is a special-offers service that gives you discounts (and syncs them when you pay), suddenly Google has a mobile payment presence. It needs the Android app to be open, and there is only the Samsung Nexus S phone that can exploit it at the moment, but it should provide some impetus to mobile payments” states Toby Shapshak in Virtual wallets on the Way.

Although we are reading that Google Wallet has launched, Google states, “coming soon” on its website. However, it appears to have already gained traction with merchants. When I searched by my zip code a list of merchants who will accept Google Wallet was topped by CVS/pharmacy. No kidding…YES, CVS is our client, but that’s what came up as the closest retailer to accept Google Wallet. As an Android user, I’m looking forward to this unique customer experience.

Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.

Happy Dads, Happy Employees: Digital Gift Cards for Father’s Day

My father-in-law just turned 80! What did we give him for his birthday? An iPhone…well, pretty much…it’s complicated. Turns out you can’t buy a phone for someone due to contracts, phone number transitions, etc. So we printed a picture of an iPhone and gave him gift cards to buy his phone.

What’s my point? He is 80 and he still loves his gadgets. Now, Dads love their gadgets within gadgets, like virtual and mobile gift cards.  “Most Dads love their gadgets and now family members can give unique virtual or mobile gift cards with personalized messages that stay with them on their mobile device,” said Doug Schneider, CEO, Transaction Wireless. “Social gifting is gaining in popularity and Facebook postings give loved ones a public forum to express their feelings and appreciation for dad.”

Employers can embrace holidays like Father’s Day and make a Dad feel special with spot rewards and gifting virtual and mobile gift cards. High performance, corporate recognition, safety, sales motivation and achievements…there are many ways to commemorate your employees’ fatherhood.

Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.

Why Mobile & Virtual Gift Cards are Becoming a Way of Life

Mobile technology is heating up, especially within the gift card industry. GiftCard Partners’ marketing team outlines how mobile technology integrates gift cards into our always on the go, mobile lifestyles.

Some of us are more likely to leave our house with our mobile phone than our wallet or license … mobile technology is now engrained in our lives; our own mobility is sometimes dependent on having our phone with us.

88% of mobile phones are now text enabled and 64% are internet enabled, and the surprising fact; 50% of Americans say they “can’t live” without their mobile phone and 50% of Americans sleep with it nearby[1]. Read about how and why mobile gift cards are becoming a way of  life.

[1] Synovate global mobile-phone survey
Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.