Restaurant Gift Certificates vs. Restaurant Gift Cards

Many consumers find the terms gift cards and gift certificates confusing at times. While both involve paying money to a retailer in exchange for a coupon that can be used to make purchases, there are other aspects to each that may be less understood.

One obvious difference between the two is that restaurant gift certificates are made of paper, which can be torn or damaged. Gift cards, on the other hand, are made of plastic and are more durable.

Consumers may purchase gift certificates online from some establishments and print them out at home. To purchase a gift card, however, one must either buy it in person or order it online or over the phone and wait for it to arrive via postal mail.

Typically, any unused portion of a gift card will remain on the card while an unused portion of a gift certificate may be returned in cash or with store credit. Also, gift certificates may have an expiration date while gift cards often do not.

Restaurant gift certificates and gift cards work in the same way. The recipient of the gift simply presents the certificate or card at the restaurant and uses it to pay for the meal.

Both gift cards and gift certificates can also be customized with special messages or greetings for the recipient.

In addition, they both make great practical gifts for any occasion. Both are easy and convenient to obtain and may be purchased with a credit card. Gift cards and gift certificates can both be used not only by a recipient, but by the purchaser, too.

Both gift cards and gift certificates can be purchased in any denomination, in most cases. Some restaurants may have a minimum amount or may only sell in increments of $5, $10, or $20, but more and more restaurants are willing to sell them in any amount.

One drawback of restaurant gift certificates is that some restaurants may put restrictions on them. For example, they may not accept them on weekends or holidays. At times, restaurants may require a minimum purchase in order to use them. A final drawback is that if you lose a gift card or gift certificate, you generally cannot get your money back. Considering the savings and convenience, however, many consumers don't mind the restrictions.

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