Exercise your options: How to pick the perfect gift card

Picking the right gift card for your reward or incentive program comes with pressure. No one wants to get it wrong. That’s because gift cards are only as valuable as they are to your recipients. Getting your audience to take an action—like referring a friend or writing a review—requires an incentive that can motivate everyone.

The question isn’t whether gift cards are effective motivators or not. They’ve been proven to be highly effective, even when compared to cash. In fact, more than 80% of US organizations motivate and reward employees through non-cash incentives, such as gift cards for employees or other work anniversary gifts. “When people receive a cash reward, they tend to treat it like salary and use it for forgettable things—paying the electric bill for example. Tangible rewards . . . on the other hand, stand apart from salary; perhaps especially when they address what an employee wants as opposed to what they may need,” according to Allan Schweyer, Co-Chief Researcher at the Incentive Research Foundation.

The real question is, how can you be sure you’re picking the right gift card for your program? 

Finding the Perfect Gift Card

Individual gift cards tie recipients to one retailer, leaving you to figure out which one would be considered the most desirable or valuable to your entire audience. They’re risky because you never know what your recipients truly want or need. And opinions vary when it comes to ranking gift card popularity. LendEDU, an online marketplace of financial products, analyzed more than 100 gift cards. It ranked each individual gift card based on:

  • The popularity of the gift card, which was determined by Google search ranking
  • The joy upon receiving the gift card, which was based on consumer survey results
  • The average purchase discount for buyers
  • The average resale value for sellers
  • Additional shipping fees

In its top 20, LendEDU included:

Olive Garden
Red Lobster
Victoria’s Secret
Toys “R” Us
Bed Bath & Beyond

Best Buy
Home Depot
Forever 21
Dunkin’ Donuts

Regardless of how highly ranked your gift card choice is, it may not be relevant to all your recipients. With Starbucks, for example, there will always be a portion of recipients who don’t drink coffee. Similarly, the location of your recipients plays a factor. For example, it can be more difficult for recipients in rural populations to visit certain restaurants and stores. These groups of people may even be de-motivated or take your desired action with an incentive that doesn’t feel relevant to them.

A Closer Look at Prepaid Gift Cards

Prepaid gift cards, like American Express or Visa, seem ideal at first. They’re flexible, meaning your recipients have a better chance of purchasing exactly what they want at the retailer of their choosing. But there are some serious drawbacks to consider, especially when it comes to the recipient experience.

Prepaid gift cards can expire, making the recipient reward experience less joyful. (Nothing is worse than getting a prepaid card that expires before you decide how to spend it.) There’s also the impact of additional fees, which are often passed on to the recipient. For that reason, prepaid cards can be difficult to use at lower denominations.

Recipients Like Choosing Their Rewards

You don’t have to choose just one gift card for your program. And cash and prepaid cards aren’t the only types of rewards that offer flexibility. With the right provider, you can send a wide selection of digital gift cards that your recipients can choose from. Here’s how we do it at Tango Card.

How Tango Card Rewards Employees

Our employees receive their rewards through email—and the process couldn’t be simpler. They click the redemption link in their email, which directs them to a reward catalog filled with 100+ of the most popular gift card brands.

The reward experience is instantly satisfying because our employees can immediately redeem the digital gift card they choose. And with so many options, there’s truly something for everyone. Click here to learn more about Reward Link—the fastest, easiest way to send a choice of gift cards via email.

Memorable Purchases Made by Our Employees

Jenni Stevens
Senior Creative Designer

What’s the most memorable thing you’ve bought with a Reward Link?
A robot vacuum. I have two small children that make sure my floor is never clean. I got the vacuum to help save me a few extra minutes in my day.

What are the top three brands you’ve redeemed a Reward Link for?
Target, Starbucks, and Lowe’s.

Mary Hochanadel
Customer Success Manager

What’s the most memorable thing you’ve bought with a Reward Link?
The most memorable thing I purchased was a new high-tech camera, which I normally wouldn’t be able to afford, but my Reward Link allowed me to do so. I have photographed many family events and memories, and I cherish the photographs every time I look at them. This camera is something I appreciate every time I use it—and each time I bring it out, I think of how I was able to purchase it.

What are the top three brands you’ve redeemed a Reward Link for?
Amazon, Lowe’s, and Kohl’s.

Maria Vallejo Barboza
Catalog Manager

What’s the most memorable thing you’ve bought with a Reward Link?
The most memorable was being able to buy my sister AirPods for Christmas with several Reward Links I’d been saving.

What are the top three brands you’ve redeemed a Reward Link for?
Target, Amazon, and Nordstrom.

With the right partner, digital gift cards can check all the boxes for being desirable, budget friendly, and effective in driving behavior. Best of all, they take out the guesswork. By sending a choice of digital gift cards, you won’t have to figure out what’s desirable or motivating to your recipients because, ultimately, they get to choose exactly what they want.

Here are Tango Card, we support all types of programs, from employee engagement and customer loyalty to wellness and research participation.

Click here to learn more about Reward Link. Or, request a demo.

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