4 min Read
18 Jan 2013

Written by Liam

Over 30 years experience in financial services, residential lettings and property sales. Director of a leading national estate agency chain, until leaving in 2008 to pursue other commercial interests. Vast experience in new business development, business change, management development and business strategy.

More about Liam

3 alternatives to shop gift vouchers

The recent news of retail stores such as HMV, Blockbuster, JJB Sports and Jessops going into administration left many consumers unsure of where they stood regarding unredeemed gift vouchers.

In most cases these gift vouchers end up worthless, as stores have the right to refuse to exchange them for goods.

Gift vouchers have always been popular as an alternative to cash, particularly when you are unsure what to buy a relative for a birthday or Christmas present. So where can the shopper turn to ensure their money is safe, whilst still allowing the recipient to choose their desired gift. 

Here are three alternatives that are worth investigating.

Shopping Centre Gift Card/Voucher

A number of shopping centres offer their own gift cards which can be redeemed at most or all of the stores in the centre. These cards can be purchased at the shopping centre, or in some cases online, and can be used for any amount up to £500. The recipient can then use the card for one or several purchases with each transaction reducing the amount left on the card. Once the full amount is spent then the card is worthless and cannot be used again. 

Many shopping centres offer delivery to a second address which is ideal for purchasers who cannot give the gift in person. All cards must be redeemed within 12 months of purchase. Bluewater, one of Europe's biggest shopping centres, offer their own gift card scheme.

These cards are normally backed by the company that owns the shopping centre, so offer a reasonable level of security.

Flex-e-card 

This is a market leading online shopping centre gift card provider, their website offers a choice of over 60 shopping centres across Europe.

Leading shopping centres such as Lakeside Thurrock and Westfield Stratford are participants in these cards which are available in a variety of designs and up to £1,000 in value. All cards must be redeemed within 12 months of purchase. Cards can be redeemed in shops, restaurants or even, in some centres, a night out at the cinema.

These cards are backed by either Mastercard or Visa, so offer a good level of security.

Prepaid cards

These cards are often used as a safe and convenient way of carrying foreign currency, however, they can also be used as gift cards in UK currency.

Prepaid cards look like, and can be used the same as, a debit card even allowing withdrawal of cash from an ATM. Not only can they be used as gift cards for a birthday or Christmas present they can also be used, for example,  as a secure means of giving cash to a young relative off on a school trip.

These cards are backed by either Mastercard or Visa,  so offer a good level of security.

Visa prepaid cards

Mastercard prepaid cards 

Conclusion

Gift cards are a great way of giving a gift but allowing the recipient to make their own choice. So why restrict yourself to one store hoping  that they don't go into receivership.

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