Gift Card Year in Review
April 4, 2023

Our research reveals influences on gift card purchasing trends in 2022.

InComm Payments’ ongoing partner support includes providing the latest gift card consumer data that merchants can use to engage their customers. To that end, we complete quarterly surveys regarding consumers’ gift card shopping habits – and each year, once we’ve compiled and analyzed this data, we reveal year-over-year (YoY) trends to better understand the shifts and constants in consumer behavior. 

This research covers open-loop gift cards, which are all-purpose cards redeemable anywhere the payment network is accepted (e.g., American Express, Mastercard, Visa, etc.), and closed-loop (or branded) gift cards, which are limited to redemption by the brand identified with the card (e.g., a restaurant, clothing store, etc.). 

Quick Hits


The average number of closed-loop gift cards consumers purchased increased by 20%.


Closed-loop gift card shoppers who also purchased an open-loop card increased by 125%.


43% of gift card shoppers who purchased an open-loop gift card did so monthly or more frequently.

Convenience for the buyer remains the top factor influencing purchases for open- and closed-loop cards.

Big Gains for Brick-and-Mortar

The in-person path to purchase for gift card shoppers became even more important in 2022. Our research found consumers’ most preferred destination for open-loop and closed-loop gift cards was physical Big Box retailers – thus ending Online’s two-year reign as the most-preferred channel for closed-loop gift cards.

Pharmacy also increased in popularity, while Grocery declined – potentially due to consumers spending more time or making additional trips to other retailers rather than one-stop shopping.

Overall, there were significant year-over-year shifts in where consumers preferred to purchase their gift cards in 2022. 

Where Consumers Preferred to Purchase Gift Cards in 2022 vs. 2021 

Shoppers were also more inclined to spend time and energy searching for the gift card they wanted. Those who didn’t find the right card right away in 2022 said they were: 

          • 9% less likely to go find it online  
          • 30% more likely to ask an employee for help, and 
          • 23% more likely to try another retailer altogether.  

This willingness to search longer in-person, both within the same retailer or at competitor highlights the importance of organized displays and appropriate inventory. 

Where’s the Deal?

It’s no secret that consumers love deals, but many respondents indicated they couldn’t find – or at least didn’t hear about – gift card deals and promotions. Despite these challenges, 20% of open-loop shoppers and 15% of closed-loop shoppers said they were motivated to purchase gift cards by deals and promotions.

When it comes to awareness, both open- and closed-loop shoppers had the same preference for receiving communication about deals and promotions – with email and in-store displays leading the way.

How do you prefer to find out about gift card deals?*

* Includes open-loop and closed-loop shoppers

Shifts in Giving and Gifting

Gifting of open-loop cards shifted slightly down in 2022, despite a slight increase in cards given as tokens of appreciation to non-family members. Closed-loop cards, meanwhile, were gifted more often in 2022, as 62% were intended to be given to others. 

Self-Use in Style

Gift cards purchased for self-use have many purposes, such as maintaining a budget, digitizing cash, funding online accounts or shopping anonymously. Consumers said they are using both closed-loop and open-loop gift cards more often as financial tools.

Closed-Loop Self-Use

Using closed-loop gift cards for money management increased 24% YoY, and the categories of closed-loop gift card that shoppers purchased for self-use differed greatly from those given to others. Closed-loop gift cards for categories such as digital content, groceries, gaming and online retailers were more often purchased for self-use rather than for others.

How Often a Category of Closed-Loop Gift Card Was Intended for Self-Use as Compared to Gifting


Digital Content






Online Retailer

Open-Loop Self-Use

Using open-loop gift cards for money management and as a banking alternative increased 17% and 25% YoY, respectively. These consumers are also purchasing high volumes of open-loop gift cards – averaging nine gift cards per quarter.

Consumers continue to find gift cards valuable and versatile, and they are spending more time in brick-and-mortar stores to find the right card, especially if it comes with a good deal.

This report offers a snapshot of the ongoing research we offer our partners, along with guidance on how to turn consumer trends into actionable insights for brand and retail operations. To learn more and discuss how these trends can apply to your business, contact us today! Our experts are standing by to connect your gift card program with the best inventory, displays and promotional campaigns to engage these dynamic customer segments.  

We’re ready to help … let’s talk!