Gift Cards: The Perfect Travel Companions
June 27, 2023

Consumers are taking their cards on summer trips.

Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a weeklong family vacation, summer trips are cherished events for millions of Americans. And now that the winter chill has worn off, people are eager to go places and do things in the warm months ahead. According to the 2023 Q2 Consumer Insights report, more than half (53%) of Americans have travel planned in the next six months, with 81% reporting that it is leisure related. The report also found that about one-quarter of consumers plan to increase the amount they spend on leisure travel in the next three months up from 19% in Q1.  

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

InComm Payments’ ongoing gift card study found that over the 9-month period from July 2022 through March 2023, the average number of travel and leisure gift cards purchased per person was 17.6 cards. The cards purchased included branded closed-loop cards* for airlines, cruise lines, as well as outdoor/sports-related cards. Open-loop gift cards** were also popular as consumers used them to purchase gas or settle up a restaurant bill. 


Typical cost of a domestic U.S. vacation for two people.

Pacaso. “2023 average vacation cost: Breakdown of travel, food and more.” April 25, 2023.

$1.15 Trillion

Projected domestic U.S. travel spending for 2023.

US Travel Association. “Total Travel Spending in the United States from 2019 to 2021, with a Forecast until 2026 (in Trillion U.S. Dollars).” Statista, Statista Inc.. July 5, 2022.

While consumers report they are eager to travel, their personal finances are a concern. Just over one-third of consumers said their personal financial situation has a negative impact on their willingness to travel. Inflation and economic uncertainty may cause many travelers to watch what they spend on their journeys. It’s why many look to gift cards to help them manage their money on a trip. This is among the many reasons why the usage of prepaid and gift cards as budgeting tools has increased. InComm Payments research found that money management is the second most popular reason for self-use gift cards, a notably high ranking which includes both open- and closed-loop gift cards. What’s more, using closed-loop gift cards for money management has increased 23.5%, YoY. *** 

Prepaid cards make smart financial sense on a vacation for several reasons:

Closed-loop gift 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

They are a secure and effective way to handle funds (instead of carrying large amounts of cash) and are less risky to lose than debit/credit cards

Many businesses that serve the travel industry have a sunny outlook as summer approaches. And travel-related gift cards should play a prominent role in many warm weather vacations. To capitalize on their popularity this summer, retailers should work closely with their InComm Payments partner 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 comfortable flip-flops, gift cards are essential to a summer trip. 
*Cards limited to redemption on the specific brand or group of brands identified on the card (e.g., cards for a specific restaurant or restaurant group, gaming platform or clothing store). ​

**All-purpose cards whose funds can be spent anywhere the provider is accepted (e.g., Mastercard™, Visa™ and American Express™ gift cards).

***InComm Payments research, 2021-22

Before you go, check out more information on gift cards, financial products and prepaid programs 

To learn more, contact us today. 

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