Some people say giving money as
a gift is tacky. I say it's no tackier than the red plastic pocketbook my mother-in-law
once bestowed on me.
Money always fits. And it's never the wrong color.
Nobody's face ever falls when they open an envelope and discover the gift of green.
only problem is deciding how much to give. Sales of Hallmark greeting cards that
are designed to hold cash, checks or gift cards have increased nearly 150 percent
in the last two years. The firm surveyed its customers about cash gift amounts.
The consensus: $50 or more is appropriate for a close relative, $25 or less is
suitable for not-so-close kin and $20 or less is what they would give to a friend.
amount you choose, from a few bucks to a few thousand, here are some ways to give
money or its cousins graciously.
it with cash
If you're giving less than $100, think cash. Even banks
that usually don't do anything for free will trade wrinkled, dirty old money for
newly printed, crisp $20 bills. A check might be slightly easier for the giver,
but cashing it can be costly for people without a checking account or other banking
Cash does have some drawbacks. The U.S. Postal
Service frowns on mailing money. If the envelope is lost or stolen, the money
will be gone as well. And sending cash to parts of the world where the postal
service isn't reliable can be doubly risky.
But if you're
handing out the gifts, it's hard to beat the beauty of fresh bills. You can always
personalize the cold cash with a nice note. It doesn't have to be flowery or long.
A few XXXs and OOOs, a simple "I love you" or just "Thanks for
tucking my packages out of the rain" will make the gift even more valuable,
says Leah Ingram, author of You
Shouldn't Have, a guide to giving.
Visa- and MasterCard-branded stored-value cards look and act
like credit cards. You load them up with any amount and the recipient can use
the card to buy anything where the affiliated cards are accepted.
card can't be used until it's activated, and both Visa and MasterCard products
are covered under zero-liability policies. If the card is lost or stolen and you
report it promptly, you will be reimbursed for amount on the card that had not
yet been spent before the card disappeared.
If the gift card
has a personal identification number (PIN) so it can be used at an ATM, the PIN
will be issued separately, offering additional protection when the gift is en
route. You can have both the card and PIN mailed to you, so that you can deliver
them personally. Or you can get a dummy card to present and the bank will mail
the actual plastic and PIN to the person you choose.
to get the most gift card for your money. Some banks and credit card companies
charge their existing customers only for the amount that is loaded onto the cards.
But other vendors charge a purchase fee in addition to the stored value that could
dramatically increase the price a purchaser could pay for the card.