Archive for Mobile gift card app

Which Gift Card Apps Should You Have?

sorting out gift cards appsWe have plastic gift cards, e-gift cards, mobile gift cards, and gift credits. We also have retailer gift cards, bank issued gift cards, and exchangeable gift cards (generic card that must be exchanged for a retailer gift card). Then there’s promotional gift cards that expire versus regular gift cards that don’t. The variations go on. And if that isn’t enough, we now have an array of Gift Card Apps to choose from as well.

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Whenever I get into a discussion on gift card apps, I invariably have to explain that there are different types of gift card apps. The reason these apps are confusing, in my opinion, is because they support different types of gift cards themselves. So in order to understand the app, you have to understand the gift card it’s meant to work with.

Below is a list of categories I used to describe gift card apps:

1. Gift Card Organizers for Retailer Gift Cards

I won’t lie. These are my favorite apps because they work well with the gift cards I use most often. GoWallet, TangoCard, and Gyft are gift card management apps that help you track both plastic and electronic retailer gift cards. After you enter a gift card into the app (key in the card number and PIN), the app automatically links to the retailer site and reports back the balance of the gift card. No more going up to the cash register thinking you have $25 to spend only to find out the balance is about $2.99.

Features I like:

  • Easy to see what gift cards you have and how much money is on each.
  • Helps ensure gift cards get used (some apps have alerts to remind you).
  • Integrated with several retailers so gift card balance is always accurate.
  • Can redeem gift cards via phone online or at the register without having to carry plastic or e-gift card.
  • Can send instant e-gift cards via app to friends and family.

The only thing missing for me with these apps is that there’s no integration for bank-issued gift cards like a Visa gift card. You can enter those gift cards manually, but can’t get up-to-date balances. And you can only send an e-gift card for the retailers they have available. You can’t send a Visa or MasterCard gift card through these apps.

2. Gift Card Trackers for Retailer Gift Cards

Gift Card Trackers or Gift Lists are really just simple apps to help you manually enter and keep track of gift cards and cash. These apps simply give you a place to record the gift cards in your wallet. There’s no automated balance check so it’s up to you to enter the data and keep it current.

3. Mobile Gift Card Websites for Retailer and Bank Issued Gift Cards

Most retailers (e.g. Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com) and gift card companies (e.g. GiftCards.com) now offer a way to send and receive e-gift cards via their mobile-enabled websites. So although not technically apps, you can buy, send, and receive gift cards via a smartphone so the website feels like an app.

4. Gift Card Credits or Gift Credits

Apps like Giftly and soon-to-be launched GiftYa offer the ability to send and receive gift credits. Essentially, rather than sending a gift card, you send a credit towards an “experience” such as dinner on the town, a day of pampering, and so forth. Money is applied to the recipient’s credit card when the experience is redeemed. Removing the gift card from the equation, this is more of a money-transfer from the giver’s credit card to the recipient’s credit card.

Features I like:

    • Can send instant gift credits via app to friends and family.
    • Picking an experience makes the gift card more personal.
    • Gift credits are redeemable at major retailers and small businesses alike.
    • The recipient can exchange the gifted experience for one more preferred.

I can’t say I’m fully ready for this new type of gifting, but it is the future. So I expect these players to have it figured out by the time I’m ready to embrace it.

5. Promotional Gift Card Apps

This is a difficult category for me to describe much less use. Apps like Wrapp and Juno Wallet are based around gift cards, but have different end games. Both offer ways to earn low-value gift cards that are more like coupons. For example, when I first logged on to Wrapp, I received a gift card for a one-month subscription to the Wall Street Journal. If I want to give a friend a gift card through Wrapp, I can select a free $10 gift card to Fab.com, $5 at American Apparel and so forth. Wrapp delivers the free gift card through Facebook. I can, of course, add to the dollar value by purchasing a gift card to send as well. But honestly I find the app more confusing than value-add. (I couldn’t decline the Wall Street Journal gift card. I had to add it to my wallet to continue with the app.)

Juno Wallet started out as an organizer but has morphed into more of a game where you earn free gift cards for performing tasks. Works for some, but I’m not a gamer. So the app doesn’t work for me.

App Conclusion

Just as an after-market of discount gift cards has emerged on the tail of gift cards, so has a dredge of gift card apps designed to capitalize on this new plastic we keep. Some apps help us get more organized, some help us earn free gift cards, and others are looking to get rid of gift cards entirely. My hope would to have one really great app that does all of those things…except the gaming. I don’t need games. I just want to be able to organize and use the gift cards I have plus be able to deliver personalized gift cards to others. That’s it.

If you find a gift card app I should test out, let me know about it. I’m always game for that.

Thanks for sharing the #giftcards love!

e-Gift Card Tips

Because Earth Day is coming up (April 22nd), I’ve heard several mentions in the gift card industry that e-gift cards are the environmentally friendly alternative to plastic gift cards. There’s no plastic, no gift card carrier, no shipping. E-Gift Cards are certainly eco-friendly, but few people I know have actually given or received a virtual gift to date. I’ve done both. So in honor of Earth Day, I wanted to give some e-gift card tips to help you make an e-gift card personal and be sure it gets delivered to the recipient.

How to Make e-Gift Cards Personal

e-Gift Card Tips: How to make e-gift card personal

Let’s start with the delivery of an e-gift card.

  • Deliver on time. There’s no blaming the post-office for a card that doesn’t arrive in the mail. E-gift cards are virtually instantaneous. So deliver before or ON the special day, but not after. If you send an e-gift card late, it screams, “I totally forgot until now and then I panicked and sent you this from my phone.”
  • Add a Photo or Video. There are some terrific e-gift card services available these days. Home Depot is a favorite of mine. They allow you to upload personal photos or videos and deliver with suggested gifts. Amazon has a similar set-up. If the e-gift card you choose has an option to upload a personal photo, then take advantage of it.
  • Add a Personal Message. I’m looking for more than “Happy Birthday” here. Think of the reason you’re not delivering something in person and meet the miles apart issue head-on. Some suggested one-liners are:
    • “Wish I could deliver this in person.”
    • “Miles apart, but always in my heart.”
    • “Gift now, hugs to follow.”
    • “Consider this gift a place-saver for the love I send you daily.”

    At GiftCards.com, we have e-gift cards that let you add a personal message.

  • Send Where It Will be Found. e-Gift cards are great because they can be sent to a variety of technologies including e-mail, cell phone, smartphone, social media, and so forth. Always send an e-gift card to the destination most convenient for the recipient. If your friend is on Facebook all the time, then a Facebook gift card is perfect. But if he’s more apt to check his smartphone than a fan page, stick with cellular. And be sure he has a smartphone before sending an e-gift card via a gift card app. Otherwise you risk sending a gift card that is never received (or noticed).

If you follow those e-gift card tips, then the e-gift card recipient is more likely to feel like you sent a personal, purposeful gift. Now let’s talk about making sure the e-gift card gets delivered.

How to Ensure e-Gift Cards Get Delivered

e-Gift Card Tips: How to be sure e-Gift Card Gets Delivered

The number one rule, we already talked about above: Make sure you send the gift card to the electronic destination the recipient is most likely to check. If you nail that down, then all you need to do is three more things:

  • Send to the Correct Address. People often have more than one e-mail address. Sending an e-gift card to a seldom checked address could turn your just-in-time birthday wishes into a belated present. If you’re not sure which address to use, send a test e-mail to see if the recipient responds.
  • Send Up a Flare. It’s a good idea to put the recipient on high-alert to expect an incoming message. You won’t ruin the surprise simply by saying, “Don’t forget to check your e-mail tomorrow!” If nothing is received, the intended recipient is more likely to bring it to your attention later.
  • Follow Up. If you don’t hear from the recipient within a day or two, check to see if he received the e-gift card. It’s awkward, of course. But better to ask and find out than to have your unfulfilled surprise sitting in cyberspace indefinitely.

Following these e-gift card tips, you’re likely to have a successful virtual gift delivery. If there’s a problem, check for a delivery receipt in your inbox, phone, or app as well, just to be sure the transaction went through. If still no luck, call customer service to resolve the situation. Never put the burden of troubleshooting the gift delivery on the recipient. An e-gift card is supposed to be a present, not a problem.

If you’ve had good or bad experiences with e-gift cards, I’d like to hear about them!

Happy Gift Carding!

~Gift Card Girlfriend (GCG)

Thanks for sharing the #giftcards love!

Another Discount Gift Card Success!

Shop and Save with Discount Gift Cards from GiftCards.comI love to shop. But with three kids who can’t seem to stop growing and an increasing number of bills in the inbox, most of my shopping trips are to the grocery store, Costco, or Target. Thanks to my new venture with GiftCards.com, however, I got the opportunity to shop for myself. I bought much-needed clothes for a photo shoot with the talented Miss Susannah. I started the trip with a stop at my favorite discount gift card sites to save money before I even got to the register.

Shopping for Discount Gift Cards

When shopping for discount gift cards, I look for three things:

  1. Inventory. I’m looking for discount gift cards for the stores I plan to shop. Rarely does the discount available drive my business. I know where I’m headed and want to save money when I get there.
  2. Discount. I compare discounts available at each site.
  3. Speed of Delivery. I check how long it takes to get the discount gift card in my wallet.

I needed several clothing options for the photo shoot, so I decided to shop JCPenney. I also knew GiftCards.com had JCPenney gift cards on sale for 25 percent off of face value. That’s significant savings. Next, I looked through the available cards and selected about a hundred dollars worth, choosing “gift codes” instead of plastic. Gift codes are e-mailed out the same day so I didn’t have to wait for the plastic gift cards to arrive. Done.

Shopping with Codes

saving money with discount gift codes from giftcards.comSo there’s one catch to shopping with gift card codes. The codes arrive via e-mail so you don’t have anything physical to take to the store with you. If you’re shopping online, that’s not a problem because you just enter the gift card code at checkout. But I needed to walk the aisles and try things on.

Entering Codes in Smartphone

Go Wallet app with discount gift cards from giftcards.comNot to worry. There are several mobile gift card apps that allow you to transfer and store plastic gift card numbers on your phone. I’ve used Tango Card and Gyft successfully. On this occasion, I chose to use GoWallet because I know they are integrated with JCPenney’s gift card validation system. Of course, I could have just written the codes down on a piece of paper or printed them out, but using an app has added benefits such as:

  • Code Check. When you enter the code and PIN into the app, GoWallet checks the balance of the card/code and creates a digital barcode.
  • Credibility. When I handed my phone to the clerk at the register, she couldn’t scan the barcode. But she had no problem key-entering the data. I imagine she might have been skeptical had I handed her a post-it note with numbers written on it.
  • Balance Update. GoWallet keeps track of the balance. As soon as she redeemed the gift card, the balance went to zero in my app. But if I hadn’t used all of the value, I could have tracked it and remembered to use the gift card/code at a later time.

In fact, the cashier was so impressed with my strategy that she wanted to know where I got the discount gift codes and how much I had saved. To her, it looked like I had face value gift cards. I explained that I paid only 75 percent of the value. She asked me to write down my website address so she could do some shopping herself.

The Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is this: With just a little effort, you can save a great deal of money by shopping with discount gift cards.

Now, I’d write more, but we’re out of milk, bread, and my son wore floods to school today. So I’m off to Target and Costco for the more typical, less-glamorous, shopping experience.

Happy Gift Carding!

~Gift Card Girlfriend (GCG)

Thanks for sharing the #giftcards love!

The Reality of Mobile Gift Card Apps

If you ever watch American Idol or The Voice, you know that when a judge’s comment begins with, “You know I’m a fan…,” then a criticism is about to follow. So to my mobile gift card apps, let me start off by saying, “You know I’m a fan.” I love that you make it convenient to send instant gifts to friends and family all over the world without postage, long wait times, or activation fees. Thanks to your reminders, I’ll never miss a birthday again. However, I test drove each of you this week and ran into a few snags, resulting in several awkward gift exchange moments. There is room for improvement.

My Mobile Gift Card App Experience

I didn’t plan to test all three of the major gift card apps available. All I wanted to do was send my brother a $25 gift card to iTunes for his birthday. Seemed simple enough. But it wasn’t.

  • Gyft

    Gyft mobile gift card applicationI started with Gyft, a mobile gift card app that’s been getting a great deal of press lately. The interface is cool and I like the option to select a Facebook friend. But Gyft doesn’t have iTunes gift cards. (Surprising.) So I opted for Amazon.com instead.

    I entered e-mail and text message delivery options and proceeded to pay. Shortly after I sent the Gyft, I received a cryptic, one-line e-mail receipt for payment of $25. Shortly after that, I expected to hear from my brother. But I didn’t.

    Awkward #1: Did you receive anything?

    I suppose this is equivalent to the old-fashioned question, “Did you receive a package in the mail?” It’s an awkward question and one I didn’t want to ask. But after a day of silence I could resist no longer. I called. He said, “I received a strange text, but I don’t have a smartphone so I didn’t know what to do with it.” Shoot.

    Awkward #2: The surprise didn’t happen.

    The fun part of mobile gifting is that you can surprise someone anytime, anywhere. I had hoped to ping my brother and put a smile on his face. Instead, I brought a big-sister hassle. Did you check your e-mail? What kind of phone do you have? What did the text say? Dang it. I’ll get back to you.

    I sent a note to customer service. See resolution below.

  • Tango Card

    Tango card mobile gift card applicationWhile figuring out the Gyft gift, I decided to send my brother a Tango Card gift instead so he wouldn’t have to wait. I know Tango Card works. (They even have iTunes gift cards.) I’ve used Tango before via their website and I’m a huge fan of the Tango Card app feature that lets you track the balances of your gift cards.

    I sent a Tango Card gift card from my phone, but directed it to his e-mail so we don’t have to worry about the smartphone situation. Within seconds, I receive a professional e-mail receipt in full-color graphics with every detail I need. I’m feeling good.

    But again, I get no response from my brother. (And yes, it did cross my mind that the kid was just being ungrateful.) So I called. No e-mail received.

    Awkward #3: Check is in the mail.

    So now Lane is the one feeling awkward. He’d been told to expect a gift. But it didn’t arrive. So does he call his big sister up and ask for a gift? Did she really send it? Is this the proverbial, “the check is in the mail?” Who wants to ask that question? He didn’t. So he didn’t. And so I waited.

    Awkward #4: Did you check your SPAM folder?

    My gift has turned into a chore. We’re both at our computers and I’m on the phone asking him to check his SPAM folder, look for a message (any message) that appears to be a gift. Are you sure? Did you check this? No luck.

    I sent a note to customer service. See resolution below.

  • Go Wallet

    GoWallet mobile gift card application
    Now I’m really puzzled. And frustrated with the world of mobile gift carding. But I’m also undaunted. This boy WILL receive an electronic gift from his big sister, even if I have to send it to my e-mail address, print it out, and drive it up to Portland myself. I log in to Go Wallet.

    The process seems smooth, but the selection is limited. They don’t have iTunes, Amazon, or a host of other stores that I know are easily accessible for my brother. So guess what…

    Awkward #5: What gift do you want?

    After all this hassle, the last thing I’m doing is sending him a gift card he can’t use. So I text him. What restaurant is nearby? They don’t have that gift card. Would you rather have Container Store? Home Depot?

    We settle on Macaroni Grill. I send it. I get a receipt. All is well, except…

    Awkward #6: The gift card comes to me.

    The mobile gift card comes to ME! Even though I filled out his e-mail address and cell phone number, the gift card receipt says, “We are happy to tell you that your gift card was delivered to shelley…” Shortly after that, the Mac Grill gift card gets automatically added to my GoWallet. Grrr.

    I sent a note to customer service. See resolution below.

  • Customer Service

    At this point, I had three e-mails to mobile gift card app customer services reps in as many attempts. All three companies responded quickly and professionally. This is the resolution:

    • Gyft – Still no luck. Lane did find an e-mail from Gyft, but when he clicked on the link, it brought up a blank page. Then he got an error message that said he’d already received the gift card. Customer service told him to delete the app from his phone and try again. When I explained that he didn’t have a smartphone, they suggested trying a different browser. That got us closer, but the gift card isn’t in his digital wallet. Gyft.com has been responsive, but we still haven’t recovered this gift card.
    • Tango Card – User error. Customer service replied with details of which e-mail address the Tango Card had gone to and offered suggestions on ensuring it cleared SPAM filters, etc. In taking a careful look, Lane and I discovered that I’d sent the gift card to one of his little used e-mail address rather than the two he checks regularly. Completely my fault. Lane found the e-mail and was quickly able to activate and apply it directly to his Amazon account. Success.
    • GoWallet – The company has been unable to recreate the scenario I described but gave me instructions on how to delete the gift card from my wallet and forward the e-mail to Lane. Apparently it will be a future enhancement to simply “share” the gift card from my wallet to his. I followed their instructions and it worked beautifully. Lane received the e-mail and printed the gift card successfully. Thank goodness.

    Lessons Learned

    So mobile gift card apps, you know I’m a fan of gift cards. But I don’t think the world at large is prepared for unassisted virtual gift card delivery. I think we still need a bit of handholding to ensure the electronic gift cards we send don’t get lost in cyberspace.

    Before sending an eGift Card (of any kind), I suggest the following:

    • Check contact information. Before you send, check the recipient’s phone number and preferred e-mail address. Find out if they have a smartphone too. Pretend you’re back in the days when you called a friend to say, “Can you tell me your address? I want to send you something.”
    • Send up a flare. Put the recipient on high-alert to expect an incoming message. Tell him to get back to you if nothing out of the ordinary arrives by the end of the day.
    • Check your e-mail for a receipt. Don’t put the burden solely on the recipient. Check for a receipt to be sure the gift card went through.
    • Follow-Up. Yes, it’s awkward. But if you don’t hear positive news from the recipient within a day or two, check to see if he ever received the gift. If not, confirm where you sent it. Check the spam folder. Then contact customer service.
    • Keep Your Receipt. Keep your electronic receipt in case you need it to chase down a failed delivery.

    Improvements I’d Like to See

    Lastly, I’d like to see a little more proactivity on the part of the mobile gift card apps. Yes, you stand to pocket the money if the gift card is never redeemed, but I don’t believe that’s your ultimate goal. I believe you want your gift card app to be the best—to be the one that people use to send virtual gift cards reliably. To do that, I suggest constant contact.

    • Make multiple attempts to reach the recipient.
    • When the gift card is activated, notify the sender.
    • If the gift card is not activated within a couple of days, notify the sender.
    • If the gift card isn’t activated within a week, notify the recipient and the sender.
    • If the gift card isn’t activated within three months, return it to the sender. (I know you won’t do this, but you should. The gift card did not get delivered. If the gift card is activated but the recipient doesn’t use it, then fine. You can keep that money because you fulfilled your responsibility in delivering the gift card.)
    • Add an automated text reply feature. When the e-gift card is delivered, allow the recipient to send an automatic “thank you” reply to the sender.

    In short, because the transaction is electronic, you have the information needed to provide better communication. This isn’t a plastic gift card paid for at the grocery store and delivered by hand. You know who bought the gift card. You know who is supposed to receive it. And you know whether or not the card ever got activated. You probably even know if the activated gift card ever got used.

    All I’m asking is that you help reduce the amount of awkwardness that can surround a mobile gift card exchange by providing as much information as possible. Then I’ll be a true fan.

    Gift Cards

    Thanks for sharing the #giftcards love!