Is it Tacky to Present a Used Gift Card as a Gift?

May 25, 2010 at 3:55 AM 15 comments

I’ve written a number of times about gift giving etiquette and I’m always intrigued by what other people think of certain gift giving scenarios. So here’s one for you…

I recently received a used gift card. Well I can’t guarantee that it’s used, but it certainly looks like it might be. The front and back are worn and faded and the gift card numbers are barely visible, there are also quite a few minor scratches on the card. The card was presented in a new envelope addressed to me, but the condition of the card definitely indicates that it may have been re-gifted.

Who knows how this card ended up in the hands of my gift giver. Perhaps the giver purchased the card at a discount from eBay or another auction website. Maybe that person wanted to provide a $100 gift, but could only afford $75 and decided to buy the card at auction in order to get more bang for his buck.

Maybe the giver received the card, but decided he’d never shop at that store. Perhaps the store isn’t conveniently located or the products sold there simply don’t interest him. Perhaps the gift giver is low on funds and didn’t have the means to shell out cash for a gift.

At the heart of the matter I guess one should ask if the reason behind the re-gift really matters? Does the circumstance behind the gift make the act of re-gifting right or wrong? Is it in poor taste to present a used gift card no matter what the circumstance might be? Do you think the presenter should have mentioned that the gift card was purchased second hand or that he or she received it for a place they’d never shop?

Whatever the reason I must admit that I don’t care. While I know a lot of people would be offended, I’m simply happy that someone thought well enough of me to present me with a gift. In fact, I’d be thrilled to find out that the gift giver wisely purchased the gift card at a discount. In that case I’d be happier with a used gift card than a shiny new one purchased directly from the store. I love it when other people are frugal with their money and I’d love to know that a friend got the most bang for his or her buck.

So what do you think? Is it wrong to present a used gift card as a gift if you don’t let the receiver know that it’s being passed to them second hand?

Entry filed under: gifts, thoughts. Tags: .

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15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. DanielleS87  |  May 25, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    I would just be grateful for it, especially if it's worth $100.

  • 2. Sense  |  May 25, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    While *I* think it's a tacky enough action that I'd never do it myself, I wouldn't complain if someone gave one to me. 🙂

  • 3. Money Beagle  |  May 25, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    Maybe they had an old gift card and decided to recharge it rather than make the store use a brand new one. Look at it this way, it's one less piece of plastic ending up in a landfill.

    Also, put it in this perspective: When someone gives you cash, how often do you get brand new bills? Hardly ever. Most of the bills have been used before. If you think of the gift card as cash for that store, there really is no problem at all.

  • 4. me in millions  |  May 25, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    All of the commenters make good points, but my gut reaction is tacky. And it's especially tacky if the giftcard is for like $63.11.

  • 5. Alison@This Wasn't In The Plan  |  May 25, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    I think it's a bit odd, but as previous commenters mentioned, I wouldn't complain if it were given to me! Personally, if I were going to re-gift a gift card, I'd have the merchant issue me a new one using the existing balance on the used one. Yes, one more piece of plastic for the landfill, but it just seems nicer. Though, I'd probably give the one with no money on it anymore to my son for his "wallet" and he'd be thrilled. 🙂

  • 6. THE ZOO  |  May 25, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    some cards are reloadable and maybe its been used but reloaded with the gift for you.

  • 7. Cindy Brick  |  May 25, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    I would probably try to get a new gift card reloaded, rather than use the old one…but I'm with you. Credit is credit, whether the card's beat-up looking or not.
    Having said that, I got 3 $10 gift cards from Target for buying computer ink (they were running a special) — and all three of those cards have gone as graduation gifts. Granted, they were on new cards…

  • 8. Stella  |  May 26, 2010 at 12:59 AM

    At the very least the giver could have gone to the retailer and traded the gift card/transferred the balance to one that wasn't all beat up. Although Money Beagle has an excellent point…

  • 9. Maureen  |  May 26, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    I have given away gift cards that I received in presents, because I,ve suddenly been faced with a Birthday that I forgot about, so knowing that, I feel that there is not the same thought going into the gift. But that,s just my take on it and some of the other comments are probably nearer the mark.

  • 10. Donna Freedman  |  May 27, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    I guess I'd consider it "used" if, as someone pointed out, it had a weird amount on it.
    While it's a little disconcerting to have an old-LOOKING card, I certainly wouldn't turn it down.

  • 11. One Frugal Girl  |  May 27, 2010 at 4:12 AM

    So if the gift card is an even number than it's okay if it's used, but if it's an odd number it's tacky. Interesting…

  • 12. Anonymous  |  June 3, 2010 at 5:05 AM

    Our Costco Here reuses their "Cash Cards" so I quite often buy a *NEW* one that also looks like it's been swiped a few too many times. That may have been what happened to your gift giver. You never know! 🙂

  • 13. Dreaming of Deals...  |  June 3, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    I second the comment just before this – I know for certain that McDonalds reuses gift cards – look at their display (if you eat there…that is! ugghh, but I get them for my nephews for Christmas) and a lot of times most of the cards are beat-up looking, too!

    Gift cards are actually fairly expensive as a business expense – I looked into using them at my small shop and decided against it – but if I had, I certainly would have captured the cards upon use and resold them, especially if they were still in relatively good condition.

    Just enjoy the gift, or hey, regift it to someone else! LOL My niece gets any Starbucks cards I get, and she loves them! Doesn't care where they come from!

  • 14. John  |  June 16, 2010 at 5:25 AM

    I would like to share a tip I just found about a discount gift card exchange called . You can buy sell and trade gift cards at discounted prices from all National retailers.

  • 15. gift to Philippines  |  July 19, 2010 at 6:20 AM

    Using gift card is one of the best for me,its so sweet. Thank you so much for guiding me through this.



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