When close family members give me gifts, it's often in the form of gift cards or pre-paid debit cards. I appreciate their generosity, and I spend the balances eventually, but I think both giver and receiver could be better off if the gift was plain money rather than credit at a store:
- I started the new year with 5 gift cards, which is more than can fit in my wallet. I can understand if the gift were a service, e.g. massages, concerts, or lessons. However, most of these cards are for general-purpose retailers, which sell tangible gifts. Half a dozen times this year I've exclaimed "Aah! I forgot to pay with the gift card!"
- I stated the new year with 2 pre-paid debit cards. My experience with these things has been poor. They cost the buyer >6% of the value, they get declined for unknown reasons, merchants place holds on the value that can last weeks, and they lack the anti-theft guarantees offered by banks and credit cards.
- Some people want to ensure I receive their gift, so they send it certified mail. This costs them money, and costs me time to go to the post office to sign for it.
- Economically, cash is more valuable than gift cards, because cash can be spent anywhere.
- Gift cards seem to be a cop-out, because they're often preceded by a text message of the form "idk what to get ur so hard to shop for". I reply with a link to my Amazon wish list, which contains a variety of items at any price point, but still the gift cards keep coming.
Is it possible to make it easier on myself without taking away whatever pleasure the givers find in giving me plastic rectangles?
For the purposes of answering, assume that giver and receiver are financially well-off, and that both have access to checking accounts and ATMs.