Gift cards are given to people as gifts or used as promotional material by a business to promote its brand by offering discounts to people who use the card. It’s loaded with money, which is face value for what it says. It can be described as a prepaid card and most are issued by one of the major credit card companies.
These instruments, when issued by a credit card company, usually contain the company’s logo on top and this serves as a mark of authenticity for the card. It also suggests that the card can be used anywhere that particular brand is accepted, as described in the logo. For example, if it is issued with a visa and has a visa logo, it can be used anywhere the visa is accepted.
People who receive cards instead of a gift and don’t care about the brand that offered the instrument might decide to spend it elsewhere. For example, getting a Sears card, but you do your shopping at JC Penny and therefore will use it there. Some people feel guilty that the presenter of the present may be offended if the card is used elsewhere and will most of the time ignore the card until it expires, wasting the amount of money that was loaded onto it.
Are gift cards traceable? Short answer, yes, any prepaid money instrument is traceable because it has identifying numbers and characteristics that allow you to use it for a transaction. However, that does not mean that the buyer can determine who is using it. If the gift was purchased with cash, the issuing company would have the information that the card number, for example 54, was used to make purchases at this particular store, but would not know who used it.
Also, if the card was purchased with a credit card, the card company will have the information that the gift card purchased with Mr. Joe’s credit card was used to buy things at some store.
Simply put, the issuing company can track the gift cards as to whether they were used; however, determining who exactly used it would require a lot of tracking and research that isn’t worth it for an individual.