The Downsides of Gift Cards

Sometimes finding the perfect present can be hard to do. You might not know what the person likes well enough to get them something they will appreciate. Gift cards are traditionally a great gift to give someone if you are not sure what to get them. Gift cards are in-store credit that holds a certain amount of cash value, that then can be exchanged at a store. It might be hard to see what the downsides of gift cards could be, but in this article, we will explore a variety of different cards and the drawbacks that come with them.

When purchasing a gift card, it is important to know of potential drawbacks and issues that might arise.

Brand Gift Cards

Brand gift cards refer to gift cards based on a specific brand, like Next. These gift cards can be used at any store relating to that specific brand. Other popular gift cards are:

  • Currys
  • Primark
  • M&S
  • Playstation
  • Xbox

You can put money on these just like any gift card and they can offer convenience to the consumer. As a gift, they might even provide the bonus of guilt-free spending. Now that the money is on the card, it can only be spent on that brand.

These cards, however, are not without their drawbacks. One of the main drawbacks comes when spending the card. If you were to make a purchase that costs most of the money that is on the card, but leaves some left over, you might not be able to spend that remaining amount. This can result in wasted funds, as you’ll have no way of spending them and can’t get the money back.

downsides gift cards

There is also a risk of losing content that you have paid for. For instance, the PlayStation store holds a wide variety of tv shows, and some of these tv shows are acquired through licensing agreements. Tv shows owned by Warner Bros have been taken down from the store. This could mean that digital content you pay for with a gift card could be taken away.

Another drawback is if the card itself gets lost. While some retailers provide a level of protection for your card, not all of them do. This potentially means that if you were to lose the card, then you’d have no way to recover the money that you invested in it.

Multi-Store Gift Cards

Multi-store gift cards like One4All and Love2Shop have the additional benefit of being able to be used across a variety of different retailers. They are not confined to one store either. If you purchase at a store, then you can spend the rest at a different store or brand. This gives them a versatility that other gift cards cannot offer. However, they still have drawbacks.

The first issue is the expiry date for online purchases. Each card has a ‘Valid Thru’ date, once that date has passed, you need to be reissued a card if you want to make online purchases. While this is an issue, it at least provides a workaround, albeit a time-consuming one. The most notable issue is that if you don’t use the funds within 18 months after the purchase date, then a monthly inactive charge is placed on the card. For One4All, this charge is 90p per month, which can quickly start to make a difference on the overall money on the card. This charge continues until the card has run out of money.


A gift card can be a great, impersonal gift if you are struggling to find something for someone. It can help save time and effort when you must get multiple gifts. It is important to remember to be wary when getting gift cards, as they can have unforeseen downsides.