Physical Gift Cards vs. Digital Gift Cards: A Full Comparison

Then and now, gift cards remain one of the most popular presents to give and receive. After all, it gives the recipient the opportunity to choose what they really want, and they can even Sell gift cards on card trading apps like NOSH for cash.

In recent years, physical gift cards have given way to digital gift cards, which are becoming increasingly popular. So, what’s the difference between physical and digital gift cards? Let’s take a closer look:

What are physical gift cards?

When we think of gift cards, physical cards are probably what first comes to mind. Physical gift cards are those plastic or cardboard cards that you can purchase at a store or online.

They usually have a set value, ranging anywhere from $10 to $500, and can be used at a physical location or online. Just about every major retailer offers physical gift cards that can be used in-store or online, including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Starbucks, and Sephora.

Related: Top 10 Best Gift Cards With Highest Rates To Sell in Nigeria 

How do physical gift cards work?

The way physical gift cards work is pretty simple. Once you purchase a physical gift card, you’ll need to activate it by following the instructions on the card or on the retailer’s website.

Then, you can use the physical gift card like you would a debit or credit card to make purchases at the retailer, either in person or online. When you make a purchase, the value of the physical gift card will be deducted from the total.

The mechanism for physical gift cards may vary depending on the retailer. For example, some retailers may require you to swipe the physical gift card at the register, while others may ask for the physical gift card number and PIN.

Advantages of physical gift cards

1. They can be used at physical locations:

One of the main advantages of physical gift cards is that they can be used at physical locations, which is not always the case with digital gift cards.

In fact, physical gift cards can often be used at both physical locations and online, which gives the recipient more flexibility in how they want to use the gift card. So, if you’re not sure whether the recipient would prefer to shop in-store or online, a physical gift card is probably your best bet.

2. They don’t require an internet connection:

Another advantage of physical gift cards is that they don’t require an internet connection to use, which can be important if the recipient is going to be using the gift card in a location with spotty or no internet connection.

So, if you’re unsure whether the recipient will have access to the internet when they want to use the gift card, get a physical gift card.

3. They’re more secure:

Unlike digital gift cards, physical gift cards can’t be hacked. This is because physical gift cards are not stored electronically, so hackers can’t access them as they could with a digital gift card.

In some cases, physical gift cards may even be more secure than credit or debit cards, which can be subject to skimming.

So, if you’re worried about securing your recipient’s personal information, get them a physical gift card.

4. They can be personalized:

Another advantage of physical gift cards is that they can be personalized with a message or design.

Giving gift cards as a present can often seem cold and impersonal, but if you personalize the physical gift card, it can show that you put some thought into it. You can usually personalize physical gift cards for free at the time of purchase or for a small fee.

What are digital gift cards?

We live in a digital world, and that includes gift cards. Digital gift cards are becoming increasingly popular, especially as more and more people shop online.

Digital gift cards are essentially the same as physical gift cards, but they’re delivered electronically instead of physically. So, instead of receiving a physical card in the mail or at the store, you’ll receive a digital code that can be redeemed online.

Most often, digital gift cards are delivered via email, but some retailers will text or message the code to you. And you may even be able to print out the digital gift card at home.

How do digital gift cards work?

The way digital gift cards work is pretty simple. Once you purchase a digital gift card (or someone purchases one for you), you’ll receive a code through the delivery method of your choice.

Then, you can activate the digital gift card by following the card’s instructions or the retailer’s website. Usually, this involves entering the code on the retailer’s website or app.

Once the digital gift card is activated, you can start using it immediately. The funds will be applied to your purchase automatically, and you’ll be able to track your balance online or through the retailer’s app.

It’s important to note that digital gift cards can only be used online and not in physical stores. So, if you’re looking for a gift card that can be used both online and in-store, you’ll need to get a physical gift card.

Advantages of digital gift cards

1. They’re convenient:

One of the main advantages of digital gift cards is that they’re extremely convenient. You don’t have to worry about losing or having them stolen, and you can usually have them delivered to your inbox.

2. They’re often cheaper:

Another advantage of digital gift cards is that they’re often cheaper than physical ones. This is because there’s no physical product to produce and ship, so retailers can pass on the savings to you.

3. You can use them right away:

Another advantage of digital gift cards is that you can use them immediately. Once you receive the code, you can activate the card and start spending. All you need is an internet connection.

4. They can be used internationally:

Another advantage of digital gift cards is that they can often be used internationally. This means you can purchase a digital gift card from a retailer in another country and send it to someone in another country.

5. They’re easy to send:

If you’re looking for a last-minute gift, digital gift cards are a great option. Since they’re delivered electronically, you can often have them sent within minutes. All you need is the recipient’s email address.

Physical Gift Cards vs. Digital Gift Cards: Which is better?

Now that you know the advantages of physical and digital gift cards, it’s time to decide which is better. The answer depends on your needs and preferences.

If you’re looking for a gift card that’s convenient and easy to use, then a digital gift card is a great option. They can be used immediately, and you don’t have to worry about losing them. That said, they can also be impersonal, and some people prefer physical gift cards.

If you’re looking for a more personal gift card, then a physical gift card is a better option. You can add a personal message to the card, and you can choose from a variety of designs. The downsides are that physical gift cards can be lost or stolen and often cost more than digital gift cards.

So, which is better? Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Consider your needs and preferences, and choose the type of gift card that’s right for you.

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Edna Webb

I am Edna Webb and I love technology. I have always been fascinated by anything that has to do with computers, gadgets, and software. This led me to study Computer Science in college and eventually become a full-stack developer and editor at I love to write about technology and share my thoughts with others. I also enjoy photography, eating different delicacies, and following tech closely.

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