Curse of the gift card
February 7, 2018 12:48 PM   Subscribe

My boss let it slip today that I am going to get a gift card to the place of my choice for the hard work I did on a particular initiative. Instead of choosing something or some place random, she wanted to give me the choice (yay!). What do I choose?

The obvious Amazon or grocery store option is there, but I worked really hard on this project and don't want to end up using it on a 24 pack of toilet roll or yogurt.

Is it awkward to ask her for a gift card to my favorite tattoo shop? If that's not work appropriate, what are some of the best values for gift cards these days? I know that generic Visa gift cards tend to have a lot of fees associated with them. If you could get a gift card to the place of your choice, what would you choose and why?
posted by something_witty to Grab Bag (24 answers total)
Books. I always choose books.

Because BOOKS.

(If I were your boss, I'd 100% be on board with a gift card to your favorite tattoo shop. I am not your boss, however.)
posted by cooker girl at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well, I would probably choose Amazon or Whole Foods, because money is fungible. Then I would use the money I saved on TP or groceries to pay for my new tattoo or piercing. But I'm boring.

I don't think a gift card to the tattoo shop would be appropriate for 95% of workplaces. If you have to ask, I doubt that yours is the 5%. :)

If Amazon or grocery stores are off the table, I would probably ask for one of these:
* Barnes and Noble or local bookstore -- I like reading but books are expensive!
* A nice restaurant I've been wanting to try -- it would feel very celebratory!
* Local spa
* Chewy or my favorite pet store -- my dog is a (very cute and wonderful) money pit.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2018 [12 favorites]

I would for sure choose Amazon because I do a huge amount of my shopping there and I just want fungible money, and that's the most fungible option for me. I can always set aside the equivalent amount (or less if that's what I choose) to spend on "treating" myself. But from my job, I want money, and I will always choose the most money-like option.
posted by brainmouse at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2018 [5 favorites]

Congrats on doing the hard work! I'd personally bias towards a gift card that could be purchased online/electronically, so that it didn't require my boss making a trip to the tattoo shop to pick up a gift card.
posted by handful of rain at 12:55 PM on February 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

Get the Amazon gift card (which has no percentage fees or effort required from your boss), spend it on toilet paper, and earmark the exact same amount of cash for your tattoo. It's just going from one pocket to another.
posted by griphus at 12:57 PM on February 7, 2018 [6 favorites]

I would choose a local restaurant because food is celebratory.
posted by theora55 at 12:58 PM on February 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

Is there a chance, even the slightest chance, that this job or your relationship with your boss goes sour? Will you want to think of this boss every time you look at the tattoo or the fancy sweater or whatever?

Go consumable: a trip to the spa, a fancy restaurant, Lush, the nice liquor store if it's that kind of job.
posted by AmandaA at 12:58 PM on February 7, 2018 [7 favorites]

When my husband got this offer at work, we chose a local boutique hotel that also has a great restaurant and nice bar. I figured if we got the chance we could have a swanky get-away, but if those stars never aligned we could have a fancy dinner, or alternatively a couple trips to a nice roof deck bar. We wound up with option B, and went to dinner with some friends.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:59 PM on February 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

At my place of work they give us Visa Gift cards and pay the service fees upfront so we don’t have to. Then we can do what we want.

Is this an option where you are?
posted by scrute at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

When I wanted to "force" myself to spend a similar windfall from work in a way that felt luxurious, I chose a fancy spa. If that's not your jam, what about a favorite restaurant or other place that feels like a treat to you but that you rarely pay for with "your own money"?
posted by spindrifter at 1:28 PM on February 7, 2018

I also came in to suggest Visa gift card, because you could use it pretty much anywhere to get something that you really want, without having to disclose that you're using it at the tattoo shop for example, if you don't care to disclose it. If pressed you could say "I used it for a 'spa day' ".
posted by vignettist at 1:30 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would choose an indie bookstore or restaurant so I'd both enjoy my gift and feel it was helping out a local business.
posted by ferret branca at 1:38 PM on February 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

Underneath the hood, almost everyone now actually issues you VISA gift cards with their name printed on them. If it is a 16 digit number starting with 4, its really run by VISA and will work anywhere no matter what pretty pictures are printed on the front. If you got a card to a mall or other multi-store location, it HAS to be run by a card clearinghouse because there isn't any other way to make it work.
posted by Lame_username at 1:49 PM on February 7, 2018

Liquor store.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:25 PM on February 7, 2018

You can buy just about anything on Amazon, so I'd do that. If you really want it to be a splurge item you would never buy for yourself, you could get a gift certificate to a fancy spa for a massage or facial or whatever, or you could get a gift certificate to a Michelin-rated restaurant, depending how much the gift card bonus will be worth. (Or if you're not in a Michelin city, just a really nice restaurant.)

> I know that generic Visa gift cards tend to have a lot of fees associated with them.

That's not really true anymore. It used to be that you might pay $3 per month just to have the card until the balance ran out and it was useless, but now because of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Obama created, practices like that have stopped. Now, whoever buys the gift card pays a fee up front (around $5), but the person who receives the card doesn't pay fees to have it and use it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:28 PM on February 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nthing that Amazon would be my first choice because that money is interconvertible to some extent. You could also buy yourself something like a Kindle, which is a source of continuing pleasure (if you like reading.)

But, if you wanted it to be more ...special, you mention wanting to travel in one of your previous Asks, so perhaps a gift card to a place like REI? Or Patagonia, or Nike?

Two of my favorite online stores are UncommonGoods and The Grommet, but then I believe many of those items can also be found on Amazon.
posted by Everydayville at 2:37 PM on February 7, 2018

I don't mean this to be snarky, but might you ask to be compensated officially with some type of bonus on your paycheck?

If not, then consumables, as mentioned above.
posted by Temeraria at 3:19 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

If it were me, Starbucks because life without cappuccino is very sad. No one even asks me anymore; they just get me Starbucks gift cards...

But Amazon is usually the safest because of the variety (if you can stomach the way they treat their workers). Costco (furniture or appliances are nice things to get for oneself) or iTunes may also be good ones.

Congratulations on getting recognition.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 3:22 PM on February 7, 2018

Visa or Amex gift cards. I'm not aware of any fees associated with them.
posted by vivzan at 6:18 PM on February 7, 2018

Bonus on the paycheck might get fiddly, depending on where the money's coming from, and it'll be taxed out the wazoo. For sheer spendability, I'd consider an Amazon gift card as good as cash.
posted by yeahlikethat at 6:24 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Gift cards with a cash value equivalent will also be taxed out the proverbial wazoo, if your company is in the United States and abides by applicable laws.

(Source: I’m the accountant who has to order the company’s Amex gift cards and track exactly who gets which one and report it to the aforementioned fiddly people.)
posted by armeowda at 7:59 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you are somewhere where there is a Costco, you can take a Costco gift card into the warehouse, buy something inexpensive (oh, I dunno, discounted movie passes or a tub of Jelly Bellys) and receive all of your change in cash. You will not need a membership to do this.
posted by jamaro at 8:18 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you want a tattoo gift card and then ask. It's your bonus, it should make you happy.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:23 PM on February 7, 2018

If your boss has seen or asked about your tattoos before, it might be safe to say, "I've been wanting to get a new tattoo. I'd love a gift card to xyz." If it were me, I'd be happy to get something I know you'd use. And I'd get to see the results too. Give your boss another option or two as well.
posted by hydra77 at 8:54 AM on February 8, 2018

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