Survey: Gift Cards Gain Popularity Among Consumers

Once considered impersonal and a bit tacky, gift cards' popularity continues to grow among consumers.

A survey released Thursday by Discover Card found that three-quarters of respondents said giving a gift card ensures that the recipient "will get what he or she truly wants." Almost as many — about two-thirds — said gift cards were "easy and convenient" for both the giver and the recipient.

Asked how they felt about receiving a gift card, some 58 percent said they would be happy because they could buy what they wanted, while 26 percent said they would be "touched" because of the giver's thoughtfulness. Still, 9 percent said they'd be disappointed because "it's not personal."

The study was the second annual survey conducted for Discover Card, the payment card subsidiary of Discover Financial Services LLC, which is headquartered in Riverwoods, Ill. Discover Financial is a business unit of investment bank Morgan Stanley.

Asked about types of cards, some 49 percent said they like to give a store card — such as one issued at Target (TGT), Macy's or Borders — while 30 percent said they'd choose a general purpose card — such as one issued by Visa, American Express or Discover. A total of 10 percent said they'd likely purchase both types.

The survey of 1,013 adults was conducted in October by the Opinion Research Corp. based in Princeton, N.J.