Gift Cards Go Virtual - NBC Chicago

Gift Cards Go Virtual

Barcodes offering cheaper, greener method of holiday gift-giving



    Celebrate This Holiday Season in Lively St. Charles

    Technology similar to what some airlines are already using for boarding passes is being applied to gift cards.

    Nearly $88 billion worth of gift cards are purchased every year, and more and more retailers are offering virtual gift cards which can be redeemed after printing or by scanning a bar code right off a mobile device.

    During the 2008 holiday season, Uno Chicago Grill became the first casual dining chain to offer virtual gift cards, reported.

    At Andy's Frozen Custard in Bolingbrook, not only is the new system is easier to use than the old-fashioned paper cards, but it's greener too.

    "In the old days when we had a paper gift card, we through away sacks of paper gift cards that were used, and now it's plastic gift cards as well. This is a gift card that doesn't get thrown away. It gets used," explained Andy Kuntz, whose family started the 13-store chain in Missouri 23 years ago.

    The gift cards can be purchased online and e-mailed or texted to the recipient.

    "If mom and the kids are out and about, and dad's got the gift card, he can text this to them and they can use the gift card. It's a very simple, it's kind of a modern way of doing things," Kuntz said.

    And because there's no shipping costs, many of them will cost less, too.