Are gift vouchers a waste of money?

Gift card

With high street shops struggling, should gift vouchers be on your xmas shopping list as you prepare for Christmas?

At Christmas, many stumped shoppers opt to give people gift vouchers. But following the recent debacle with Comet going into receivership and its gift vouchers being suspended then reinstated, are gift vouchers a good purchase?

Gift vouchers are a win-win product for retailers, they get money in exchange for nothing in the first place and may, or may not, one day have to hand over some goods.

No benefits?

In 2011, £4.5 billion was spent on gift cards and vouchers in the UK but of that amount 6% will never be redeemed, according to the UK Gift Cards and Vouchers Association. That's a staggering £270 million going into the pockets of retailers in return for nothing.

The really surprising thing is that so many people are spending money on a product that has no discernible benefit, other than tying someone to buying something from a particular store.

If you have a voucher or gift card with a retailer that goes bust, it is up to the administrator whether it honours the vouchers - there is no legal obligation to do so, and most don't.

And money spent on gift vouchers isn't protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme either. So stick to cash this Christmas.

Your Comments

Gift cards and vouchers will again be the number one gift of choice this holiday season in the UK and around the world.  Why?  Because gift cards are the one gift people want - they let them choose the gift they REALLY want, and offer the best value-for-money.   Some people still buy that ugly jumper, and the poor recipient has to trudge back to Debenhams to return it.  But even then the ugly jumper acts as a gift card, as the person can return it and get what they REALLY want.
Save the hassle.  Buy gift cards.  enjoy.

Gift vouchers aren't a waste of money but in the current climate may not make for good sense in the current climate as many companies are going into administration and not honouring the vouchers, as recently shown by Comet. Eeven big name brands can fail. You are better off simply asking or trying to get an inclination of what people want and then buying the product and give it to them with a receipt so that they can either exchange the present or get your money back. And if the company goes into administration at least you still have the item and it can be sold.

The only conceivable reason it is worth having gift vouchers is if you got them at a discount or if the card saves you enough money vs buying a greetings card. Otherwise cash does everything a gift voucher does and more as it is accepted everywhere. Interesting how positive comments only come from gift voucher merchants. I detest gvs with a passion as my wallet bulges with cards I forgot about with money that can expire after 1-2 years and is restricted to where it can be spent. Add to this the risk of merchants going  bankcrupt  and it looks like a joke! Anyone who pays full price for gift vouchers with no extra benefit needs an education in personal finance - schools don't teach about these sorts of things but should!

Not all Gift Vouchers tie you to one shop.  The Post Office sells One4all vouchers which can be used in a large number of HIgh Street stores.

I don't think gift vouchers are waste of money because their main purpose is to allow people to save more. These are also ideal gifts to give to someone. Last year got these bluepromocode coupons and the recipients of the vouchers were very thankful.