Gift Cards Make the Best Incentives

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 9.57.54 AM

Thoughts from the 2016 IMA Summit in Houston, Texas:

First, let me say that Houston in July is quite an experience. With the heat and confusing city layout, walking a couple of blocks royally messes with a Northerner like myself.  Of course, knowing that the city planners built a network of underground passages which, if navigated correctly, are quite awesome!

Second, I want to reaffirm that once again, in yet another marketplace report, Gift Cards come out on top as the best incentive.

Here are a couple of highlights:

  • The entire incentive spend in the U.S. is up 17% (from 2013).
  • Gift Cards are the #1 incentive in every channel except one.
  • In consumer loyalty, Award Points beat out Gift Cards directly as top incentive.
  • However, what is the #1 thing Award Points are used for?  You guessed it – Gift Cards.
  • Not convinced? You can review the release here and the full study here.

Studies like this are not new, but the question remains- what makes Gift Cards so amazing as an incentive?

There are many reasons – here are 3:

1) Branded Currency:

Gift Cards give choice, lots of choice, as much fungible choice as, say, a currency.  And it carries with it the power of a brand.  We all love our favorite brands – there is emotional connection as well as a personal identification.  Choosing a Nike Gift Card from a reward catalog carries all of that every time.  No other incentive can match both currency and brand value like a Gift Card.

2) Impact:

It stands to reason that the purpose behind any incentive program is to drive results.  The program design itself, of course, is important but also the actual incentive is critical too. Rewarding with a Gift Card guarantees maximum impact. Three things happen when you reward your program participants with a Gift Card – 1) they are happy (like, holiday happy!), 2) they remember what they use the Gift Card for and forever associate it positively with the program, and 3) they tell people about it.

3) Instant Delivery and Operational Aspirin:

With Gift Cards, especially eGift Cards, the program participants can be rewarded instantly. Instant delivery and immediate gratification is critical in an incentive program. Imagine redeeming your reward points and waiting 3-4 weeks to receive your reward? How can that be a thing in 2016? Also, Gift Cards alleviate all the headaches associated with managing the reward fulfillment of an incentive program.  No locking valuables in a closet, or managing spreadsheets of award types and values. Especially, if you use an eGift Card API provider – it is like Aspirin for your incentive program headaches.


Here at Tango Card, we love Gift Cards – we love evangelizing the benefits, we love sending them to thousands of people, and we LOVE using them ourselves, of course!!

Written by Nat Salvione


Nat Salvione is VP of Business Development at Tango Card. He has been soaking in the prepaid industry for 15 years with companies such as Incomm, Coinstar, and With prepaid industry leadership roles under his belt in partnerships, product and sales, you might say he knows his stuff.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply