Online shopping is now more popular than ever, and so are various premium online services that can be easily accessed without leaving home.

But when it comes to the payment itself, there are multiple ways to finalize the transaction, one of which is gift cards. Usually, we’re talking about physical ones, but digital gift cards are also a thing – so, what is a digital gift card and how does it work?


Whenever you want to purchase something online or get yourself another month of access to a certain online service, you’ll be faced with a choice on how to pay for it. More often than not you’ll be able to use your credit card or make a wire transfer, but some places may also offer other payment options, including gift cards – and it’s an option worth considering for reasons we’ll talk about further down below.

We’ll take a look at both physical and digital gift cards, the main differences between the two, and the pros and cons of using an e-gift card when shopping.

We’ll also explain how e-gift cards exactly work and how does the process of acquiring and gifting such a card looks like. By providing you with all the necessary information, you’ll be able to make a smart and conscious decision before getting one yourself. What do you need an e-gift card for? Can it be used instead of money? Is it safe to use? Let’s learn more about.

Definition of E-Gift Cards

The question of what is an e-gift card can be met with a rather simple explanation. It’s a type of gift card you can buy and either use yourself or gift to someone. Gift cards are easy and convenient to use, but it’s not where the pros stop.

They’re also very safe, as using a gift card does not require one to fill in any personal information, which reduces the chances of a thief or other malicious user intercepting your private data and using it to steal your identity to, virtually, zero.

E-gift cards work similarly to physical gift cards, as they can both be used as a cash substitute to pay for a variety of goods or services, as long as the chosen company or store accepts payment in gift cards.

The main difference between physical and digital gift cards is the fact that the former has a physical form while the latter doesn’t. As such, the process of obtaining and gifting a gift card itself also differs slightly, depending on the chosen form of a gift card.

How E-Gift Cards Work

Since we’ve already learned what an e-gift card is and how is it different from a physical gift card, let’s take a moment to talk about how does the procedure of purchasing and gifting the gift card may look like.

So how do e-gift cards work exactly? First, you’ll have to choose an e-gift card. The choice is important as e-gift cards can usually be only used at some stores but not in others. If you want to be able to use a gift card as a payment method in any particular place, such as Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, make sure they accept e-gift cards first to avoid unpleasant surprises. If the place only accepts very specific gift cards, make sure to purchase the correct one.

Once you have chosen an e-gift card, proceed with the payment. Fill in the necessary information, such as the amount of money you are willing to spend on the card and the recipient’s details, including his e-mail address. Once you’re done, finalize the transaction.

Once an e-gift card is bought, the recipient will receive a confirmation e-mail about the purchase, as well as the gift card code – this code is the most important part, as that’s exactly what the recipient will need if he wanted to use the gift card as a payment method in online shopping.

Using an e-gift card to pay for the purchased products or online services is as easy as choosing the corresponding payment method on the payment screen and entering the gifted code. The required amount of money will be deduced from the gift card’s balance and if there’s anything left, it can be used later to cover another purchase. It’s also worth mentioning that e-gift cards don’t necessarily have to cover the whole price themselves – sometimes it’s possible to split the cost between a gift card and a debit card, for example.

Depending on the chosen gift card, the steps may vary slightly, so it would be best to read the terms and conditions on each specific gift card individually to get a more accurate step-by-step process and possibly some extra useful tips. Treat the above steps as general guidelines that don’t necessarily have to be strictly followed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Gift Cards

Gift cards, as the name implies, were originally invented with gifting in mind, but nothing prevents you from getting one for yourself. After all, there are some advantages to e-gift cards that you can benefit from, too.

One of the advantages of e-gift cards is that they effectively limit how much you spend online. Some people may find it difficult to control the amount of money they spend on entertainment, especially if the purchase does not involve cash. It’s very convenient to just swipe your credit card, but it can quickly get out of control. If you start using e-gift cards instead, your expenses will be limited by the amount of money you loaded on your gift cards.

If you decide to buy an e-gift card as a form of a present for someone, then there’s also another important advantage to be mentioned. As gift cards can only be used as a payment method in specific places and stores, giving someone a gift card instead of cash will force the recipient to spend the money in that place. This ensures that the one who received the gift will most likely spend it on something fun and entertaining. If you gave them pure cash instead, they could use it to pay the bills or cover some other expenses, which isn’t fun at all. If you have children, this also gives you some control over their possible choices.

Using e-gift cards is also very safe. While purchasing the gift card itself comes with the same risks as any other online purchase, using the purchased gift card as a payment method in future online shopping sessions provides an extra layer of security, as all you have to provide the shop with, is the gift code – no names and no personal information required. If there’s someone in your family who’d like to do some online shopping but they’re afraid of using their credit card, just give them a gift card instead.

Although e-gift cards come with various advantages, there also may be some disadvantages. The most important one is that they limit your shopping choices – gift cards usually can’t be used in all stores, but only in the chosen ones. This means that once you get the gift card, there’s no turning back. You can’t change your mind anymore, you have to use the card at the specified places.

There’s also another important disadvantage to e-gift cards and that’s the expiration date. Not all gift cards come with one, but some certainly do. If you don’t wish for the funds to go to waste, you should make sure to drain the gift card dry before it expires.


E-gift cards are a very convenient and secure payment method that can be used as a cash substitute to pay for a variety of products or services. It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping online or renewing your monthly subscription – more often than not it’s possible to use a gift card to cover the cost. Gift cards also make for a perfect present if you don’t have better ideas in mind, as they ensure that the recipient will spend their freshly acquired funds on something they’ll actually enjoy.