Gift Cards Ring in the Holidays

Mastercard introduces mobile wallet gift card, while consumers flock to restaurant gift cards.

December 19, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—It’s the holiday season, and once again, gift cards will find their way under thousands of Christmas trees, according to a new survey from the National Restaurant Association.

Restaurant gift cards were found to appeal to 72% of people, and about 47% of U.S. adults said they plan to give a restaurant gift card this season, reports Hudson Riehle, the association’s senior vice president of research and knowledge. That number rises to 60% among consumers with children in the household.

“Ninety percent of people tell us they enjoy going to restaurants, so a gift card is pretty much one size fits all,” Riehle said. “They are also a good choice for someone who wishes to give an experience rather than a material item.”

The National Restaurant Association’s gift-card survey of 1,004 adults was conducted online Dec. 2-4 by New York City-based Engine Group. The survey also found:

  • 56% said they’d want a gift card from their favorite restaurant.
  • 22% would like to use a gift card to try a new restaurant they haven’t visited before.
  • 21% would like a gift card for a restaurant they wouldn’t otherwise get to visit.

As for using their cards, 20% said they would do so as soon as possible after receiving them, while 40% planned to save them for a special occasion. When they do use them, more than a third (35%) said they would splurge and order more expensive items than usual.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Mastercard has partnered with CleverCards and the Appreciate Group to introduce a fully digital gift card that lets consumers send a gift card immediately via email, text or messaging app, reports Retail Dive.

Digital gift card recipients can add the gift cards to their mobile wallets and use them online and in-store with 61 U.K. retailers, such as Topshop, TK Maxx and John Lewis. Mastercard's e-gift card launch is the latest partnership the payments company has engaged in to expand its retail and international footprint.