A gift card (also known as gift certificate in North America, or gift voucher or gift token in the UK or Australia) is a prepaid stored-value money card issued by a retailer, in this case a tour or activity operator, to be used as an alternative to cash or credit cards for purchases with the businesses, either online or in person. Gift cards are also given out by tour and activity businesses as part of a promotion strategy, to entice the recipient to come in or return to the business, and at times such cards are called cash cards. Gift cards are generally redeemable only for bookings or purchases at the relevant tour or activity provider and cannot be cashed out, and in some situations may be subject to an expiry date or fees.
From the purchasers point of view, a gift card is a gift, given in place of an object which the recipient may not need, when the giving of cash as a present may be regarded as socially inappropriate. In the United States, gift cards are highly popular, ranking in 2006 as the second-most given gift by consumers and the most-wanted gift by women, and the third-most wanted by males. Gift cards have become increasingly popular as they relieve the donor of selecting a specific gift. In 2012, nearly 50% of all US consumers claimed to have purchased a gift card as a present during the holiday season. In Canada, $1.8 billion was spent on gift cards, and in the UK it is estimated to have reached St₤3 billion in 2009, whereas in the United States about US$80 billion was paid for gift cards in 2006. The recipient of a gift card can use it at his or her discretion within the restrictions set by the issuer.
Gift card rules and regulations vary from region to region and dictate restrictions such as expiry or fees. Tour and activity businesses interested in offering gift cards for sale are advised to review the legislation specific to their location.