You have a summary of folks you need to send gifts to. Most are out of state. Then you can find your immediate siblings. Some you know well. Others? You just don’t have a clue as to what half of them like? Which means you consider giving them something special certificate. Chipotle Gift Card Balance After all money doesn’t grow on trees. The truth is with the expense of gas doubling over the past couple of years, inflation on our heels and the growth in family reunion attendance, offsetting the expense of gift giving by finding low priced items that every body loves has become a much greater challenge then it ever has been. Thus the growing popularity of gift cards.

The National Retail Federation anticipated $17.24 billion worth of holiday sales last year in gift cards. The reasons gift cards are so frequently bought in place of other items are numerous. No-one wants to provide a gift that is not appreciated. In addition, who would like to burden down an aging relative with needing to drive several miles to a store she nevers shops to be able to exchange the gift.

All too true. For example, what if you give a gift card from a shoe store to someone who’s not into sports? Or a gift to shop a jewelry store to somebody who lives too great a distance from the store to even bother to look there.

But has the gift card changed all that much in the last three or even more years? Perhaps. Prepaid gift cards issued by VISA and MasterCard provide a way to use a gift card anywhere credit cards are accepted. Prepaid debit card issuers and 60 percent of store gift card issuers offer the potential to secure a replacement card with the rest of the balance if the original is lost or stolen. But getting a replacement may necessitate the purchase receipt and the card number. Some companies may accept other proof of purchase. The gift card recipient would have to have all these papers to secure a replacement. No wonder a significant percentage of gift cards have gone unredeemed. That said, when buying a gift card, look carefully at the pre-purchase disclosures of terms and conditions on the net site and the packaging in the store. If terms aren’t given or appear too cryptic to be complete don’t buy.

So when a recipient receives a store issued gift card from a store they don’t really like obviously the card just sits in a dresser drawer until it’s long at night expiration date? Are merchants pocketing the cash while the gift card purchasers just throw away money? That was once the case. But companies like Sears announced it is eliminating expiration dates from all gift cards issued beginning December 17, 2003. Other credit card providers have been quickly following suit.

In addition to less expiration date worries nowadays there are a handful of companies dedicated to redeeming major retail gift cards for recipients of unwanted, unredeemed gift cards. One site,, offers gift card ordering, redemption programs in addition to gift card exchanges. Many of these companies offer services for such card issuers as Best Buy Starbucks and Outback SteakHouse. Still with the recent changes in favor of the recipient losing the impersonal commercial stigma connected with gift cards is a challenge.

Some gift card websites have gone to great lengths to overcome this obstacle. Now you can upload your own images and add your own text to create a custom card. Embossed text provides card that engraved look, an extremely personal touch.

Still with all the work to personalize something special card they still appear to need help to stand out in the crowd of handmade cards and gift bags. After all a gift card is four times smaller that a simple credit card and weighs only a few ounces. Does this imply that gifts card don’t have what it takes to stick out among large presents? Some issuers compensate for this by upping the value of gifts cards. Some cards values far outweigh any large dominating boxed gift. From $200 to $300 or more. With the advent of prepaid debit gift cards from VISA, MasterCard, American Express and DiscoverCard folks can provide a gift card valued at $500 up to $3000 dollars depending on the provider. Perhaps big things do can be found in small packages.