Video: Tips for using mobile gift cards

Smartphone apps slim down your wallet, make giving easy

Sienna Kossman
Personal finance writer
Statistics enthusiast focused on data-driven content



Gift cards are great, but they can sure fill up a wallet.

Mobile gift cards can slim down your billfold while keeping your gift cards safely password-protected.

Mobile wallets such as GoWallet and Gyft let you upload your plastic cards and keep track of all your balances in one place.

Mobile gift cards can make great last-minute gifts, too.

One birthday gift, coming right up.

You can buy mobile gift cards through some retailers who have apps, like Starbucks or Target, or through one of the gift card wallets.

Once I buy the card, I can email it through my phone, or even send it as a text. It shows up as a link the recipient can tap to bring up the card information.

To use a mobile gift card in an online store such as Amazon, the recipient can go directly to the shopping site from their phone, or enter the gift card number in a computer.

In a physical store, the cashier can scan the mobile card's bar code or enter the number manually.

Just keep in mind a couple of safety tips when buying and using mobile gift cards:

1.       Buy gift cards from well-known, trustworthy sites. Otherwise, you could end up with an empty gift card or worse, identity theft.

2.       Gift cards are like cash. Use any app passwords available and lock your phone, too.

3.       When you get a text message saying you've received a gift card, double check with the giver. A lot of scammers send gift card messages that contain malware.

We're all attached to our smartphones anyway so why not use them to make the gift giving -- and spending -- process a bit easier? For more information, visit I'm Sienna Kossman.

Music for this piece:

Bloops, Bleeps, Bongos & Brass (Coconut Monkeyrocket) / CC BY-NC 4.0

See related: 9 tips for using mobile gift cards safely, Don't be 'breakage' -- 7 tips to avoid losing gift card value, Video: Protect your privacy while using mobile shopping apps

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Updated: 03-19-2019