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Virtual vs. Physical Gift Cards: The Pros and Cons of Each

As a restaurant or retail business owner, you are well aware that gift cards are a pivotal element of your revenue. Although gift card campaigns require ample planning and deliberate execution, they are an important part of growing your customer base. When choosing between using virtual or physical gift cards, there are many factors to consider based upon the specific needs and culture of your business and its customers.

The short answer here is: there is no right answer! Both physical and virtual gift cards have many pros and cons to consider; and just like every other decision you’ve had to make for your business, it’s all about what is best for your unique situation. Let us help you weigh the options and plan a course of action. As experts in all things gift cards, it’s what we do!

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of both physical and virtual gift cards and how to decide which option best fits the needs of your business.

Virtual Cards During the Pandemic

Throughout the past year, virtual gift card use has become increasingly popular. It comes as no surprise that online ordering became both a comfort and a source of entertainment throughout quarantine. Gifting virtual gift cards to loved ones became a great way to acknowledge birthdays and holidays that could not be physically celebrated. They also provided a way to simply let a loved one know that their physical presence was missed. 

Gifting virtual cards during the pandemic has also had a couple more distinct advantages: they are easily customizable and are available for immediate use. This means that if you know a close friend or family member is struggling with the isolation of the pandemic, you can send them a gift card to buy takeout that very night. 

Let’s state the obvious here: you can’t lose a virtual card. This is a huge advantage when 40% of 18-29-year-olds admit to losing a physical gift card before they could spend it! Additionally, virtual gift cards are environmentally conscious, while also cost-efficient. 

Are Physical Cards the Easy Way Out? Not a Chance.

After reading all of the advantages of choosing virtual gift cards, you might be thinking, “why would businesses ever choose ‘old school’ physical gift cards nowadays?” Wait just a minute! There are several advantages to choosing physical cards that are often easily overlooked.

A factor that we at Card Market place great value on is using your physical gift card as a marketing device for your business. We’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again—customers are your brand ambassadors, and the gift card they carry around serves as a tiny billboard. Physical gift cards offer free exposure for businesses. This makes it especially important to spend time and thought working with a professional to design a gift card that accurately reflects your brand.

Additionally, physical gift cards may also be considered a safer option, considering that personal information must be entered to purchase a virtual gift card, making it easier for scammers to interfere. 

Balancing the Pros and Cons

As you can see, when choosing between virtual and physical gift cards, each has its pros and cons to consider. A great way to decide which is best for your business is to spend some time analyzing the spending habits and sales patterns of your business.

Does your website have the capability of delivering and processing virtual gift cards with ease? Is your storefront designed for customer browsing and product discovery? These are amongst many questions to ask when deciding upon a gift card option.

Got Questions About Which Type of Gift Cards Are Right for You?

Card Market provides gift card services from design through printing. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

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