The Mental Accounting of Gift Card Versus Cash Gift Funds

Rebecca White, University of Chicago
Receiving a monetary gift in the form of a gift card can lead one to regard, allocate, and consume these funds differently than if the gift is given as cash. Across four experiments, the presentation of a gift card rather than cash led to both intended and actual spending beyond the amount of the original gift, and also influenced the types of purchases that consumers made. Even when features of the gift card payment mechanism that restrict fungibility of funds were removed, receiving a gift card led to greater spending than when an equivalent cash gift was received.
[ to cite ]:
Rebecca White (2008) ,"The Mental Accounting of Gift Card Versus Cash Gift Funds", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 722-723.