Indians taking to gift cards over cash, physical gifts

Gift cards in many segments are gaining popularity as they offer flexibility, convenience and, choice to recipient

For her wedding in February this year, Nandana Das, 29, a Bengaluru-based communications professional, was happier with the gift cards she received for online and offline stores than the many cup and saucer sets and bedsheets. “Some gifts were of no use and also not as per my taste. Gift cards give me the flexibility to buy anytime, anything and from anywhere. It gives you the option to actually buy what you want," she said.

Das is part of the growing tribe of Indians who prefer such cards over cash and personal gifts. According to a report by QwikCilver Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which runs gift card platform Woohoo, 54% of respondents in a study said they prefer giving gift cards. Such cards are available in both physical and digital formats, and are offered by e-commerce sites, banks and retail companies.

“Cash is seen as too impersonal. With a gift card, you can decide on a brand or an e-commerce platform and your loved one can decide the gift," said Pratap T.P., co-founder and chief marketing officer, QwikCilver.

As it is going to be the wedding season in many parts of India, gift cards may be preferred. Bengaluru-based software professional Shilpi Sinha, who got married in November last year, said, “I prefer giving gift cards as they are more convenient to use and can be gifted and sent anywhere. At my wedding, most of the physical gifts I got were things I already had."

Apart from online portals, brick-and-mortar stores are also seeing an increase in sale of gift cards. “The sale of offline stores through e-gift cards has increased from nil a few years back to 25% now," said Pratap.

“One doesn’t need to carry the digital gift cards. And as most gift card purchases tend to happen at the last minute, it’s convenient to buy and send," said Firoz Khan, founder and chief executive officer, GiftCardsIndia, a gift-card aggregator. The market for gift cards has grown 40-50% in the past 3 years and is set to grow further as more people are adopting it, he added.

Mint Money take

Although gift cards offer flexibility and choice, do remember to check the expiry date on them. Moreover, any left over amount won’t be returned.

For bank gift cards, the minimum amount you need to put in is usually 500 and the maximum is 50,000, though these limits vary. Then there are charges such as for issuance, and replacing a lost card. These can’t be transferred either.

So the next time you get a wedding invite, you may consider these cards over the wall clock you were planning to give.