Gift Cards: The Perfect Travel Companions

Consumers are taking their cards on the road.

Date:July 9, 2019

As consumers pack their suitcases for summer getaways, they’re packing more than cool shades and sunblock. They’re also taking along gift cards to spend.


InComm’s ongoing gift card study found that 29 percent of consumers who bought gift cards last year used them for travel-related spending.


These perfect travel companions are portable, convenient and safer than carrying cash. There’s a gift card for every leg of a journey, too, whether consumers are travelling by car, train or jet.



29% of consumers use gift cards for travel-related spending.

InComm image


InComm image


The warmer months are an especially hot time for gift card sales.

Our study found that consumers bought 7.2 cards per person in the third quarter; second only to the holiday season in volume. Theme park and travel-booking site gift cards are especially popular for travelers.


In addition to the convenience, consumers are looking to gift cards to help them manage their money on a trip. There’s already been a rise in using prepaid and gift cards as a budgeting tool. InComm research finds that 29 percent of self-use card buyers are using their cards to keep their finances in order.


Prepaid cards certainly make smart financial sense on a vacation:

  • Closed-loop cards help consumers stick to a budget through their store-specific nature (like a favorite restaurant or gas station)
  • Spending is limited to the amount on the card, making it easier to budget on the go
  • Gift cards are less tempting than having ready cash in hand, so it’s easier to curb spending (especially impulse purchases)
  • Recent consumer studies and economic surveys point to this being a big summer for vacations. And travel-related gift cards should figure prominently in these getaways.


To capitalize on gift cards’ popularity this summer, retailers should work closely with their prepaid partners to prioritize planogramming and merchandising. They should also ensure their stores are fully stocked with the cards that travelers want.


Because like a pair of comfy flip-flops, gift cards are essential to a summer trip.


* Source: AAA Travel Survey
** Source: Allianz Global Assistance Vacation Confidence Index 
*** Source: OnePoll on behalf of Ford