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Shelley Hunter

What’s the Best Way to Buy Gift Cards in Bulk?

If you want to buy gift cards in bulk for your business or a large group of friends or family members, consider these 4 options.

stack of bulk gift cards

Why Choosing the Right Bulk Gift Card is Important

Last year, I helped an acquaintance order approximately 30 Visa® gift cards for her extended family, including adult kids, grandchildren and family friends. Since this woman orders so many cards, she had been incorrectly advised the previous year to place a bulk gift card order through her bank. Instead of receiving consumer gift cards, however, she received 30 corporate reward cards. These are not the same thing.

Corporate reward cards often come with short-term expiration dates and other terms and conditions that make sense if you receive the card as a business perk, customer reward or corporate incentive. These terms do not make sense if you receive the card as a gift from Grandma. Throughout the ensuing year, this woman’s relatives discovered that the unused portion of their corporate reward cards had expired, turning her holiday gifts into a family-wide disappointment. She came to me because she didn’t want that to happen again, and neither did I.

When it comes to buying gift cards in bulk, determining who will use the card is just as important as picking the right card.

Bulk Gift Card Options

From the multi-pack at the grocery store to the high-volume order placed online, there are many ways to buy gift cards in bulk. The terms and conditions, however, vary with each–and so do the benefits. To get the cards that meet your needs, carefully consider the following options before placing an order:

Option 1: Buy Multi-Packs in Stores

One of the easiest ways to buy gift cards in bulk is to simply purchase the multi-packs available at grocery store kiosks. I’ve seen as few as three cards and as many as ten in a single package. Target sells an even bigger pack of their own gift cards at the customer service booth.

The plus side of buying multi-packs is that you can run to the store today and grab what you need. The downside is that not all store gift cards are available in these packs and you have to load the same value onto each card. In many cases, you don’t even get to choose the load amount. iTunes cards, for example, are frequently available in multi-packs of 4 gift cards loaded with $10 each, 3 iTunes gift cards loaded with $15 each and so on. Of course, you can also buy a stack of single gift cards. You’ll just have to purchase and activate each one separately.

Option 2: Order Multiple Consumer Cards Online

While you might not want to hold up the checkout line at the grocery store to activate 20 different gift cards, ordering multiple cards online is pretty easy. (You’ve seen the ‘quantity’ field, right?) At GiftCards.com, for example, you can buy up to 49 Visa gift cards in a single order. These are consumer cards so you don’t have to worry about any corporate restrictions or near-term expiration dates. Though ordering en mass, you can still customize each gift card in the order with a unique image, embossed message and variable load amount. Buy multiples of the same card and be done or spend a few minutes picking different pictures and messages for each person. If you have the time, we have the technology.

If you want bulk store brand gift cards instead of bank-issued brands, we have those as well. Alternatively, you can check out the store or restaurant you prefer and order directly from their website. Suppose you want to treat everyone in the office to a CVS gift card to encourage healthy habits during cold and flu season. The CVS website says customers can purchase up to 30 gift cards. Most prominent brands have similar offerings. Though the number of cards and dollar limit allowed may vary, you’re likely to find some type of bulk ordering process available.

Option 3: Order Bulk Gift Cards for Small Businesses

Some banks and vendors require a minimum bulk order that is too high (in quantity or dollar amount) to meet the needs of small business owners who want to reward their employees but only have a few people on the payroll. The easiest way to buy less than 50 employee reward cards is through a consumer platform. Again, you’ll get the generous terms and conditions afforded to consumers and, in most cases, won’t have to go through an application process. Simply buy an armful of gift cards at the grocery store or order multiple online.

When using our consumer card as a small business gift card solution, you now have the option to put a company logo, product image or tagline on the card. You could also do something more generic such as uploading a picture of the team members or the office mascot. If you don’t have time to get that creative, select one of our predesigned gift card images instead. Write “Happy Holidays,” “Job Well Done,” “Great Work” or some other expression on the embossed message line. (Please note: Small Business Reward cards expire 12-months from the purchase date.)

If you want to start a gift card program for your business, read Gift Card Girlfriend’s Complete Guide to Gift Cards for Small Businesses.

Option 4: Order Bulk Corporate Gift Cards

Finally, use a corporate gift card program if you are buying bulk gift cards for your business in quantities greater than 50 cards or a total dollar value greater than $9,000 annually. In most cases, to order bulk corporate cards, there is an application process, set-up fees for the artwork and terms and conditions to select. Though ordering corporate gift cards in bulk may take a little time and effort, you will get a great deal of control in return, such as the ability to choose a reloadable gift card or order cards that can be returned if unused. You’ll also be able to put your company logo or a product image on the gift card so recipients will literally be carrying around your brand. Again, don’t use this process if you just have a big family and don’t want the hassle of waiting in line at the grocery store. These gift cards are meant to be used as corporate rewards and will come professionally packaged and specially delivered–perfect for employees or customers, a little too formal for nieces and nephews

The best way to buy gift cards in bulk depends on who the card recipients will be. If you want gift cards for personal use, then stick with grocery stores and consumer gift card websites. If you want multiple gift cards for a small company, then you can probably do the same. Larger companies, however, will benefit most from setting up a corporate incentive gift card program designed to reward several recipients while still being a cost-effective solution for the business.

Have you ever received a gift card you couldn’t use? Tell me about it in the comments below or reach out to me at @GCGirlfriend on Twitter.

Happy Gift Carding!

~Shelley Hunter, Gift Card Girlfriend

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