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Research Shows Recipients Prefer Control and Personalization Gift Cards Provide vs. Cash

A new study by the Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC) and Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) shows that prepaid gift cards are one of the most popular ways to motivate and reward employees, primarily due to the control and personalization they offer. Researchers found that when offered a prepaid card or its equivalent in cash, survey respondents chose a prepaid card by a ratio of five to one. “We found that reward recipients are more likely to mentally classify prepaid cards as guilt-free spending versus cash,” explains IRF President Melissa Van Dyke, “and they’re more likely to add the value of that prepaid card to their monthly budget, rather than simply replace it, as they do with cash.” The study, It’s In the Cards: An In-depth Look at Prepaid Cards in Incentives, Reward and Recognition Programs, reviewed the most recent business and academic literature on gift card usage and conducted two new primary research surveys on the state of gift card use for reward and recognition programs within the U. S. Other key findings:

  • 44% of survey respondents – the largest share by far – say that prepaid cards are their favorite type of gift or reward.
  • Prepaid cards are now the most frequently used reward in corporate incentive programs, with more than two-thirds of corporations using them. Prepaid cards are being used across the spectrum, from spot rewards to holiday bonuses.
  • Nearly half of the reward & recognition program planners surveyed say that, dollar for dollar, prepaid cards are the most effective reward available, and more than 75% believe they’re among the most effective of all rewards – especially in driving loyalty and engagement.

“When you consider that over 65% of recipients say they remember what they purchased and that many attribute that positive memory to the person or company that gave them the card, it’s easy to see how the organization receives a significant benefit as well,” says Betty Weinkle, Vice President of Corporate Wellness at Spa-Finder and Past President of IGCC. For more on this important study, click here.