Physical Gift Cards Still Reign Supreme Over Digital Cards – First Data Study

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2017 Prepaid Consumer Insights Study Underscores Value of Gift Cards

Nov 08, 2017

Study finds that 75% of consumers overspend the amount on their gift card by an average of $38

Results show 44% of consumers visit a store they would not have otherwise gone to because of a gift card

NEW YORK (First Data) — The average consumer spent $38 more than the value on their gift card, up $10 from 2016, according to the 2017 Prepaid Consumer Insights Study released by First Data (NYSE: FDC) today. The study, which is based on the responses of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers, also found that 44% of consumers visit a store they would not have visited otherwise because of a gift card, and 53% are likely to visit a store more often as the result of receiving one.

“There is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to drive sales and build brand loyalty by implementing gift card strategies and solutions,” said Dom Morea, Senior Vice President, Head of Gift Solutions at First Data. “From employee rewards and customer service programs to social media promotions and marketing campaigns, gift cards are their own form of currency, offering convenient solutions for gift card purchasers and receivers alike.”

Physical Cards Still Reign Supreme, While Digital Cards Play Catch Up

First Data’s 2017 Prepaid Consumer Insights Study found that consumers purchased an average of 6.5 physical gift cards on an annual basis, steadily climbing from 5.9 in 2016, 5.5 in 2015, and 4.7 in 2014. While physical gift cards still dominate, the research showed that digital gift card popularity is on the rise. In the three prior years, the average number of digital gift cards purchased stayed at approximately 4.0 per consumer. This year, that number surged, and consumers purchased an average of 6.1 digital gift cards per person.

One trend worth watching is mobile gift card apps. This year, among all consumers who were aware of mobile gift card apps, 52% had used one, and millennials outpaced total respondents with 65% having used an app to purchase a gift card.

Consumers Prefer Shopping for Gift Cards at Gift Card “Malls”

The study also identified where consumers purchase gift cards. This year, nearly half – 47% – of consumers purchased a gift card at a gift card “mall” (i.e., places that sell many different types of gift cards for a number of different stores), surpassing purchases made in a physical retail stores for the first time (44%).

Generations Agree on Gift Card Incentives

Across all ages, 42% of respondents said their preferred incentive for purchasing a gift card was a discount dollar amount. With value top of mind, the next preferred incentive was a bonus gift card with the purchase of card (31%), followed by a free item with purchase (12%), and then a bonus amount added to the card (8%).

For more information about how businesses can drive sales, bring in new customers, and extend their reach using gift solutions, please visit

For additional information about the 2017 Prepaid Consumer Insights Study, please see the dedicated page on First Data’s website.

About First Data

First Data (NYSE: FDC) is a global leader in commerce-enabling technology, serving approximately six million business locations and 4,000 financial institutions in more than 100 countries around the world. The company’s 24,000 owner-associates are dedicated to helping companies, from start-ups to the world’s largest corporations, conduct commerce every day by securing and processing more than 2,800 transactions per second and $2.2 trillion per year.

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