Do you still send Christmas cards to your relatives with a check or cash tucked inside? If you’re still sending checks, you should see if sending a VISA or MasterCard gift card (in the form of a preloaded debit card would be a better idea. If you’re still sending cash, are you crazy?
Checks are such a pain. In order to cash a check, the recipient either has to go into their bank or withdraw the equivalent amount from an ATM after using it to deposit the check. Either way, it requires an extra trip or an extra leg in a trip.
What happens if the check isn’t any good (for whatever reason)? The recipient isn’t going to be fond of you at the particular moment that fact is discovered.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s and even part of the 1980s, a lot of people sent cash in the mail, and not just for birthdays and Christmas. Some people used to pay their bills that way. As mail theft and other problems started cropping up, checks were used as substitutes.
Unfortunately, some people still send cash in the mail, cleverly hidden within the flaps of a card and in colored envelopes you can’t see through. There are way too many unscrupulous people working in post offices in nearly every country of the world to risk sending cash through the mail. If you’re still doing that, you’re crazy and need to seek professional help.
Use VISA and MasterCard Gift Cards Instead of Store Gift Cards
Have you ever received a store gift card as an actual gift or an award or something? If you have, how many have you received for stores that you’ll never shop at? At my last job, I received numerous store gift cards and because I didn’t shop at those stores, I ended up giving them away.
Almost every store in the US accepts a VISA or MasterCard debit or credit card (there are some exceptions, like membership stores). Wouldn’t it be nice to let the recipient choose where he or she wants to shop as opposed to choosing the store for them?
Where do you get VISA and MasterCard Gift Cards?
I hate to sound condescending, but the second thing you should do is search the web for “visa or mastercard gift cards”. The first thing to do would be to either search for “(insert your bank) gift card” or call your bank to find out if they offer them. Mine does (or did, rather, because I no longer have a US bank account).
If you’re picking an online source that isn’t your bank, or any bank you’ve never heard of, please be careful. As with anything else on the Internet, scammers are out there just waiting for innocent victims to prey upon.
[Originally published in December, 2008]