Visa Survey Reveals Sensible Is Fashionable This Holiday Season

December 10, 2008 at 1:03 PM EST

Gift Cards Take the Guesswork Out of Gift Giving; Tips Help Americans Maintain Budget Control

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 10, 2008--This holiday season, it's popular to be practical, according to a new study commissioned by Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) that suggests consumers are sticking to a budget and relying on gift cards to help take the guesswork out of giving.

More than ever, gift givers are putting themselves in the recipients' shoes and trying to identify gifts that will be appreciated and put to good use, ensuring their money is well spent. The majority of U.S. consumers surveyed said it was 'very important' to give a gift that their recipients will find useful (73 percent). Notably, 8 out of 10 respondents indicate they would give a gift card because recipients would be able to choose the gifts they want.

Giving the Gift of Choice

The survey revealed that gift cards provide valuable flexibility for shoppers and recipients alike:

-- 82 percent of respondents consider it appropriate to give a gift card that can be used for purchases anywhere, offering recipients the ability to spend the card on goods and services from the merchants they choose. That compares to only 45 percent of respondents who felt it appropriate to give a check as a gift.
-- The majority of those surveyed agree they would buy a gift card this holiday season because they're convenient for gift givers (79 percent) as well as recipients (85 percent).
-- Nearly three-quarters said they would give a gift card because they are an easy way for the gift-giver to track spending (70 percent) and because they are less expensive to ship (73 percent).
-- And when it comes to buying gifts, an overwhelming majority of U.S. consumers surveyed felt it was important to give something they can afford (91 percent). As consumers look to closely manage holiday spending, gift cards can help to better track and stay within a holiday shopping budget.
-- Additionally, nearly half of those surveyed say asking for a gift card this holiday season makes good sense, as they feel other items on their list might be too expensive (46 percent) or too difficult for someone else to buy (49 percent).

"This year, Americans are signaling greater pragmatism in their shopping decisions--even when it comes to purchasing gift cards," said Jason Alderman, director of financial education at Visa Inc. "While we know that the convenience of gift cards makes them a popular item for both shoppers and recipients, it's interesting to note that people are buying gift cards because they can use them to manage spending and stick to a budget."

Unlike gift cards that can be used only at a single location, Visa Gift cards are accepted at millions of locations worldwide--allowing recipients to buy what they want, when they want. Visa Gift cards are also covered by Visa's Zero Liability1 policy which offers protections against lost or stolen cards, as well as for unauthorized purchases--a level of security not afforded by cash or gift certificates. Consumers can purchase Visa Gift cards in person, online, or by phone. For more information, visit

Practical Budgeting Tips for Practical Shoppers

To help consumers better track holiday spending, Visa offers a free online Holiday Budgeting Center. This resource is available through its award-winning financial education program, Practical Money Skills for Life, which can be accessed at

"Whether you're planning on giving gift cards or other items that recipients can use this holiday season, making a budget and sticking to it is essential to ensure that holiday cheer doesn't turn into a New Year's financial hangover," Alderman added.

Listed below are five important things to keep in mind when preparing a holiday budget:

-- Needs vs. Wants: Given that some financial planners say you should spend no more than 1.5 percent of your annual income ($750 per $50,000 of annual income) on holiday expenses, take a hard look at what you typically spend during the holidays and then estimate how much you can really afford to spend.
-- Make a List--Check it Twice: Once you know how much you can afford to spend overall, record everyone on your gift list and set an amount you expect to spend on that person. If you overspend in one area, you must reduce costs in another.
-- Shop Online: Shopping online will not only help you save time and gas, but if you plan ahead, you will find many free shipping deals on internet shopping sites. Since many merchants offer the same items at different prices, comparison shopping online will also help you avoid spending more than you need to and pocket the savings.
-- Avoid Last Minute "Panic" Shopping: Plan ahead by making a list of everything you need to do and plot it out on a calendar so you are not scrambling at the last minute and making more expensive decisions due to lack of time or choices.
-- It's the Thought That Counts: Have an open conversation with friends and family about setting more conservative price limits on gifts for each other. Or, instead of spending on each other, join together to put your gift budgets toward helping those who may be less fortunate.

Consumers can find these tips along with other useful tools, including a budgeting calendar, a Gift Register and Budgeting Tool and a Holiday Entertainment Planner on the Holiday Budgeting Center. The site also features a holiday shopping tips video podcast by personal finance expert, best-selling author and award-winning journalist, Jean Chatzky.

About the Visa Gift Card Survey

The Visa Gift Card Survey is based on telephone interviews with 1,001 men and women 18 years of age and older living in private households in the United States. The survey was conducted from September 18-21, 2008, using Opinion Research Corporation as part of its Caravan(R) omnibus survey service. Results of the survey have a margin of error of no more than ±2 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

About Visa Inc.

Visa Inc. operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world, and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit

1 Visa's Zero Liability policy covers U.S.-issued cards only and does not apply to ATM transactions, PIN transactions not processed by Visa, or certain commercial card transactions. Cardholder must notify issuer promptly of any unauthorized use. Consult issuer for additional details or visit


CONTACT: Visa Inc.
Jennifer Doidge, 415-932-2564

Source: Visa Inc.