Incentive Gift Cards Continue to Delight


Research from the Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC) and the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) shows the majority of U.S. businesses — fully 61 percent — are increasingly using gift cards as a reward tool for multiple groups (channel, sales, employee and customer), and that investment in gift card rewards is both significant and growing.

“There are a few key elements programs must have in order to be effective and one of them is rewards that people feel are valuable and meaningful to them personally,” says Rick Buer, CEO of GC Incentives, a provider of gift card solutions. “Businesses use what they know will be rewards of value that are desired by most employees. They are also easy to source and deliver, making them an efficient reward choice.”

Gift cards’ flexibility — they can be used for both short-term and long-term incentive efforts — adds to their popularity, explains Theresa McEndree, vice president of marketing at Hawk Incentives, another leading gift card provider. Her company, like many others, offers closed-loop branded gift cards (think Starbucks, Target and hundreds of other brands) as well as open-loop prepaid cards, which carry a major credit card logo (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) and can be used wherever that card is accepted. Open-loop cards can be reloaded, whereas closed-loop generally have a fixed value.

“A lot of channel programs use a reloadable prepaid card as their incentive mechanism. I’ve seen programs where people earn hundreds of thousands of dollars on those cards,” McEndree says. “You see it a lot in the automotive market and higher-earning incentive channels. At the other end of the spectrum, you can give a consumer a $5 e-gift card for taking a survey and it’s effective in its own way.”

Incentive gift card use will continue to evolve, with trends such as digital delivery and e-wallet capabilities reducing (but not completely replacing) standard plastic cards. One thing that shows no sign of changing, however, is the popularity of this recognition and reward platform.  

Your recipients are comfortable with the latest gift card technology, so it’s important to use it. Digital delivery continues to grow in incentive gift card use. Digital wallet (Google Wallet, Square, etc.), an emerging trend in the consumer space, is showing up in incentive gift card use as well.

“In using digital delivery, a lot of our clients can package the gift with some sort of certification,” says McEndree of Hawk Incentives. “The nice thing about digital is you can recognize instantly, but you can also print it out and hand it to somebody. A lot of our clients package a digital gift with some sort of certification.”

Digital has its advantages, but don’t abandon the tried-and-true plastic card too quickly, adds Stephanie Ramos, senior product manager at Maritz Motivation Solutions. “We are really working on the digital side to make it more personal, but plastic wins out in that regard. It’s tangible, you can hold on to it, you can open it up, you can hand it to someone.”

Best Buy and Geek Squad

Best Buy gift cards make it easy to enjoy all the latest technology. Associates will help you make the right choice, and Geek Squad can help keep it all running right with installation, setup, support and repair. For more information, contact Nicole Fortuna of Best Buy at 877-370-1234 or email

The easy gifting solution

Make giving gift cards meaningful, easy and effective. Your recipient receives a personal message branded with your logo and instructions to choose their gift card from over 200 popular brands. Never source and fulfill individual gift cards again! For more information from GC Incentives, visit


Your recipients will find the brands they love at prices that work with a TJX gift card. These retailers’ buyers negotiate amazing deals with top designers and pass the savings to customers. Departments include apparel, shoes, home, and accessories. The TJX gift card is redeemable at T.J.Maxx,, Marshalls and HomeGoods (in the U.S. and Puerto Rico). For more information, contact TJX Incentive Sales at 800-333-1387.

Eastbay gift cards

Founded in 1980, Eastbay strives to be the go-to resource for pro-grade gear, casual styles and expert training tips for athletes who care about winning. Part of the Foot Locker, Inc. family since 1997, Eastbay proudly joins Foot Locker in its vision of becoming the leading global retailer of athletically inspired shoes and apparel. Eastbay Gift Cards allow you to access an unrivaled selection of athletic gear, with more brands, styles, colors and sizes than anyone in the industry. Recipients can use Eastbay gift cards online or by phone. Eastbay gift cards have no expiration date or applicable dormancy fees. For more information, contact Patriot Marketing Group at 800-690-5996 or email

The Home Depot® Corporate Gift Card

The Home Depot Gift Card is the perfect way to reward employees and thank customers. Available in plastic and eGift card options, flexible dollar amounts, redeemable in-store and online with no fees or expiration. For more information, contact The Home Depot Corporate Gift Card Program at 866-232-9040 (option 2), visit or email

Prepaid cards in mobile wallet

Incentive recipients can now enjoy the convenience of adding their Mastercard Prepaid Cards to their mobile wallets for shopping either online or in-store, creating an omnichannel experience and enhancing the power of choice. For details, contact Hawk Incentives at 866-219-7533 or visit

RK Incentives

RK Incentives is a gift card reseller and consulting agency that has relationships with over 100 national merchants and the best negotiated rates for bulk discounts on gift cards. For more information, contact:, call 813-280-9671 or visit