The Latest Evolution of Online Gift Cards

May 16


Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore

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Gift certificates, once the go-to giveaway items, have evolved significantly over the years. These paper vouchers, which allowed recipients to purchase items at specific stores, have now been largely replaced by more versatile and convenient gift cards. This article delves into the rise of online gift cards, their types, and why they have become the preferred choice for many.



Gift certificates have evolved from paper vouchers to versatile online gift cards,The Latest Evolution of Online Gift Cards Articles becoming the preferred choice for many. This article explores the rise of online gift cards, their types, and why they are so popular. Discover interesting stats and insights about this modern gifting trend.

The Evolution from Paper to Plastic

The Rise of Gift Cards

In the past, gift certificates were the standard for gifting. These paper vouchers allowed recipients to purchase items at specific stores. However, the advent of gift cards has revolutionized the gifting landscape. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, gift cards have been the most requested holiday gift for 14 consecutive years as of 2021 (source).

Types of Gift Cards

Gift cards come in two primary types: closed-system and open-system cards.

Closed-System Cards

Closed-system cards are specific to particular retailers or establishments. For example, a Subway gift card can only be used at Subway restaurants. Other examples include gift cards from Walmart, Target, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's. These cards are popular because they ensure that the recipient will use the gift at a specific place, often a favorite store or restaurant.

Open-System Cards

Open-system cards, on the other hand, are more versatile. Issued by major credit card companies like Visa, American Express, and MasterCard, these cards can be used anywhere the specific card is accepted. This flexibility makes them a popular choice for many, as they can be used for a wide range of purchases.

The Popularity of Online Gift Cards

Convenience and Versatility

Online gift cards have surged in popularity due to their convenience and versatility. They can be purchased and sent instantly, making them an ideal last-minute gift. According to a study by Blackhawk Network, 70% of consumers prefer digital gift cards over physical ones (source).

Security and Tracking

Gift cards, especially those with microchips, offer enhanced security. They store information such as the card's balance, ensuring that funds are protected. Additionally, many online platforms allow users to track their gift card balances and transactions, adding an extra layer of security.

Interesting Stats About Gift Cards

  • Market Size: The global gift card market was valued at $619.25 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $1.9 trillion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 15.4% from 2020 to 2027 (source).
  • Consumer Preferences: A survey by First Data revealed that 83% of consumers who received a gift card in 2018 used it within a year, and 55% spent more than the card's value (source).
  • Digital Shift: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to digital gift cards, with a 44% increase in digital gift card sales in 2020 compared to 2019 (source).

How to Get Free Gift Cards

Legitimate Methods

While many websites promise free gift cards in exchange for completing tasks, not all are trustworthy. However, there are legitimate ways to obtain free gift cards:

  1. Promotional Giveaways: Companies like Subway occasionally offer free gift cards as part of promotional campaigns. Checking their official website or social media channels can provide opportunities to participate in these giveaways.
  2. Loyalty Programs: Many retailers and restaurants offer loyalty programs where customers can earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards.
  3. Surveys and Market Research: Participating in surveys and market research studies can also yield free gift cards. Websites like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie are reputable platforms that offer such opportunities.


Gift cards have come a long way from their paper voucher origins. Today, they offer unparalleled convenience, security, and versatility, making them a popular choice for gifting. Whether you opt for a closed-system card from a favorite retailer or an open-system card for broader use, gift cards are here to stay. Keep an eye out for legitimate ways to score free gift cards and enjoy the benefits they offer.

For more information on the latest trends in gift cards, visit the National Retail Federation and Blackhawk Network.