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News: Gift Cards Popular with Consumers - Credit-Land.com

Do you cash in your rewards points for gift cards at big box stores? If so, you are not alone, according to a new report by the National Gift Card Corporation. One in four Americans use their points to get gift cards from stores like Walmart, Amazon and Starbucks.

The top categories

What categories of gift cards have the most traction with consumers redeeming rewards? The answer is:

• Travel 39%

• Sports & Wellness 35%

• Department Stores 25%

When you have upswings, you typically have some downturns, and this was the case between 2015 and 2016 in the following categories:

• Entertainment 10%

• Gas 7%

• Home Improvement 3%

The report looks at how people redeemed their rewards from loyalty, reward, and employee programs based in the U.S. Stores and sites that are the most popular with consumers looking to redeem points include Walmart, Amazon, Target, Home Depot, iTunes, Kohl's, Gas Station Cards, Starbucks, Applebee's and Lowe's.

Why gift cards? The report ties them to families looking to get the most out of their budget. "Participants in loyalty programs often gravitate towards rewards they can use to stretch family budgets. For instance, cards for shopping, dining, home or automotive needs that can be used for everyday essentials (or given as gifts to loved ones for the holidays or special occasions) make a difference to the household bottom line. The top gift card reward selections conveniently match consumer desires to save money," said NGC President Eric Thiegs.

Plastic gift cards trump digital

If you thought that those plastic gift cards were going to disappear in favor of eGift cards or Digital Cards, think again, according to the study digital gift cards are slowly gaining traction with consumers. But plastic ones are hands down still the favorite, with 85% of people opting for plastic cards rather than digital cards. Walmart is the most popular gift card option when it comes to plastic cards, and iTunes takes the top spot when exploring digital options.

While Millennials are more eGift card friendly a large amount of Gen X and Baby Boomers look to cash in their points, miles and cash back rewards for a plastic card, rather than a digital one.

That said there have been some issues with eGift cards. "More Millennials select eGift card rewards, but there is also some digital backlash as end-users experience eCard technology issues, training gaps at the point of sale, confusion with mobile wallets, or even fraud," said Thiegs.