With more merchants adding the option of credit and debit cards to their websites, consumers are becoming familiar with the idea of using their phone to make purchases at online retail stores. Virtual gifts are also gaining in popularity. While cell phone payments are still only commonplace, individuals will probably turn to virtual gifting instead. So what do these new newcomers need to look out for when making the transition from traditional to virtual cards?
First, they should understand that some universal gift card, particularly those that offer shopping discounts or other tie-ins with other websites, might not function properly if the website is down. Worse, if the retailer does not have an online payment option, then the consumer could face bad experiences when trying to make online purchases or use their phone to make a purchase. Therefore, virtual gift cards need to be able to process online purchases in some manner. The best solution for this problem is a method known as “secure socket layer” or SSL. With SSL, consumers can make secure purchases over a secure connection and the virtual gift cards website can send verification code via email to the cardholder’s phone.
Second, consumers need to understand how to check their balance. Most of today’s gift cards feature both a virtual terminal and the ability to view and make online purchases. However, if the website does not support secure socket layer, consumers will need to call the customer service number and access a web page on the site to access the balance. Once there, the person needs to be able to determine how much money is available in the virtual card and if they would like to transfer funds to the virtual card. Some sites may offer the ability to add a check box by which the person can indicate whether or not they want to add funds to the virtual card.
Virtual Gift cards may not work with certain point of sale systems. For example, some banks require that the virtual card be presented using the credit card system that is on file in the bank. Other systems do not have this requirement. The virtual cards may also not be compatible with gift cards that are linked to a specific bank.
Virtual gift cards provide many advantages to the consumer. Most notably, the value of the gift card is limited to the value of the dollar value of the card. Hence, the card cannot be used to purchase items that are outside the buyer’s purchasing power. Also, since the value of the card cannot exceed the value of the dollar amount, gift cards cannot be overpaid. The consumer therefore gets a useful tool that helps them establish spending limits and control spending.
For those who have difficulty accepting credit card payments or who want a more flexible way to pay for purchases, virtual cards may be a suitable option. These virtual cards offer the consumer an easy way to complete purchases without having to carry large amounts of cash. This is particularly convenient for those who travel often, or who want to avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Virtual gift cards also provide a way to simplify the process of selecting and paying for merchandise.