Electronic gift cards, or e-gift cards for short, are just like traditional gift cards, except they don’t come in physical forms. Instead of taking the shape of small plastic rectangles, e-gift cards are digital cards that come with codes. They are emailed to their recipients with copies also sent to purchasers to confirm their emails were sent.
You can store them in a gift card app that enables you to keep all of your e-gift cards in one place. As well, you can screenshot the card’s code so that it can be used to pay for your purchases. When you’re ready to make a payment in a store, let the cashier know you’re using an electronic gift card. Pull out your phone, pull up the code and have it scanned to complete the purchase.
If you’re a bit more of the old school type, you can also print a paper copy of your electronic gift card. “If you are not comfortable showing a digital gift card, then you should be able to print the e-gift card instead,” affirms Shelley Hunter on GiftCards.com, “When you print the e-gift card, make sure to capture the code and PIN to be sure the card will be usable in store.”
In a separate article on GiftCards.com, Hunter notes that some e-gift cards only work online. Generally speaking, the codes can be redeemed both online and offline. But, as she informs, some merchants restrict e-gift card redemption to online purchases. If so, these requirements should be clearly stated on the store or restaurant’s website.
“Before buying an e-gift card, check to see where it can be used,” Hunter advises consumers, “If only redeemable online, consider giving an amount that will cover potential shipping charges. If redeemable in stores, confirm how the gift code can be presented at the cash register. In most cases, the recipient should be able to either print the email received at home and present the paper copy to a cashier or simply show an electronic (e.g. email, screenshot, gift card app screen) version of the code instead.”
One of the biggest benefits of electronic gift cards is that they can’t be lost. Unlike physical gift cards which, if lost or stolen, can be redeemed by just about anyone, e-gift cards are sent to specific recipients who have provided specific information. As a result, the cards are easy to trace and replace if recipients have trouble finding their original notifications. Of course, it’s important to punch in the recipient’s correct information when ordering an e-gift card.
“The e-gift card issuer’s obligation is fulfilled when digital delivery is successful–regardless of whether or not you entered the contact information correctly,” reports Hunter, “I once sent an e-gift card to my daughter via email. When it didn’t arrive after more than an hour, I checked my purchase receipt and discovered that I’d transposed a couple of letters in her email address. The issuing company graciously corrected the address and resent the gift for me, but they didn’t have to.”