What’s the Difference Between a Gift Card and an e-Gift Card?

There are many times when a gift card makes a great gift. They allow you, or the recipient, to go out and save money on their next purchase at the establishment. Almost every retailer has gift cards in one form or the other, so keep your ears open when your friends talk about their new favorite places and activities. A well-timed gift card is sure to put a smile on their face!

Gift cards come in two main forms. There are physical gift cards, which are the plastic rectangles commonly seen hanging by the checkout counter. There are also e-gift cards, which are sent by email. You can add these to your phone or keep the QR code handy to scan the next time you shop. 

In this article we will break down the differences between physical gift cards and e-gift cards to help you decide which one to purchase the next time you are buying a gift for a friend or family member. 

Earn Cash Back On Gift Cards with Gift Card Granny

Gift Card Granny makes it easy to buy and send customized gift cards online and earn cash back while you do. Gift Card Granny carries thousands of local and national brands, including Visa gift cards, Mastercard gift cards, and gift cards for many of the awesome spots on this list.

Text eGift Cards on GiftYa

Another popular gift-giving site is GiftYa, which also offers customizable eGift cards! GiftYa lets you add custom photos or videos to all your gifts in the form of a virtual gift wrapper. A GiftYa can be sent by text or email, so the gift is always delivered within minutes. You can also schedule the gift to be sent on a specific date, such as a birthday or holiday. With over 16,000 local merchants and 280 national merchants usable at over 230k locations across the US, you can find the perfect gift for anyone! Now that we’re on the same page let’s jump right into the article.

There are some differences between a gift card and an e-gift card, but they both let you save on your next expense!

What are the Differences Between a Gift Card and an e-Gift Card?

We will start with the obvious one. Physical gift cards look similar to credit cards and scan at the register. e-Gift cards exist digitally in the form of a code to scan and a code to type in if you make an online purchase. With the exception of prepaid Mastercard and Visa gift cards, it is incredibly easy to spend gift cards online. 

Many gift card retailers, like Gift Card Granny, allow you to purchase a virtual or plastic gift card. The virtual gift card is sent immediately to the recipient’s email address, and the plastic card is shipped. 

Physical and e-gift cards do not have too many differences besides the way they are stored. Physical gift cards need to remain close by when they are spent, while e-gift cards exist in the cloud, and you only need the code to use them. 

When to Buy a Gift Card

Buying a gift card lets you give a gift with some personality when it is time. It is not required, of course, but you can spruce up the packaging with some fun small gifts, like their favorite candy or a nice mug. A little addition to the gift card goes a long way and makes your gift unique. There are countless cute ways to package your gift card. 

When to Buy an eGift Card

Electronic gift cards are great gifts when you want to deliver a gift card immediately, or you know the recipient does not want to carry around any more cards. 

The case for virtual gift cards has gone up with the use of Apple and Google Pay. It is super easy to add a prepaid gift card to your phone’s wallet and scan it at a register. The danger of losing the physical card — and the money it had — is gone when it is added to your phone’s wallet!

Whether you’ve received or been given a gift card, using it is easy! Prepaid gift cards like Visa and Mastercard, however, require a bit more savvy to use effectively. This next section is all about prepaid cards, which you can use in any retailer nationwide. 

Never count out how much fun some personalization can be when you give the gift of a gift card!

When to Use a Visa Gift Card

Visa and Mastercard gift cards are incredibly powerful gift cards. You can spend them in any retailer that accepts credit cards, making them just about the same thing as cold, hard cash. Putting that much flexibility in a gift makes it harder to use sometimes. When you get a gift card, you want to spend it on something fun. When the gift card is to a single store, it’s easy! The recipient keeps that store in the back of their mind, and the next time they go, they can spend the card. 

With a Visa gift card, however, there is no narrowing down of the money. This means a lot of people spend it on weekly expenses like groceries or gas. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, a lot of people gift Visa gift cards for that express purpose. When someone is in a position where the best gift for them is money, a Visa gift card works perfectly. 

This next section is to help out those who do want to spend their Visa gift card on something fun but may need a bit of direction to get there. 

How to Spend a Visa Gift Card With Style

If you are going to get a Visa gift card, we recommend buying one at Gift Card Granny! The recipient can spend it wherever. Using prepaid Visa gift cards are great ways to travel without your primary credit or debit card. You can buy a gift card for friends, family, and yourself! 

In this section, we wanted to highlight some fun ways to spend Visa gift cards. These are applicable to you if you have some in your possession. If you plan on giving a Visa gift card, you can add a little note along with it to direct the recipient toward one of these categories. 

A Night Out on the Town

This comes in many shapes and sizes, but going out to enjoy some evening activities is an amazing activity for people of all ages. Your friend may want to use the gift card when going out to drink with friends, see a show or a concert in the local theater, or enjoy a night at Painting with a Twist. There are so many amazing activities that people don’t do on a regular basis, so send along a Visa gift card with a little note outlining an activity you think they will love.

A Visa gift card is a great way to lessen the expense of any night out. The next happy hour is on you! 

A Gourmet Home-Cooked Meal

Next on this list is a classic. Food! Putting your Visa gift card towards food is a great way to spend it on something special. Cooks appreciate this category, and it is about giving them a little extra money on their grocery bill to go all out on their next grocery run. There are recipes out there that sound phenomenal, but a combination of ingredient cost and prep time take them out of the running for a normal week’s meal. The arrival of this gift card signals the time for a fun and exciting week of grocery shopping. 

If the recipient is not a cook, but you want to go the food route, this gift card could go towards snacks! Since Visa gift cards work anywhere, they have tons of options when it comes to finding the perfect place to pick up some snacks and treats. 

Next to this is, of course, restaurants! Going out to eat is a common and fun pastime, and you can save your Visa gift card for the next time you grab a bite. If you have any restaurant recommendations, you can add them along with the card. 

Clothes Shopping

Clothes are expensive. Clothes shopping can quickly turn into a chore whenever you need something new, made doubly worse if an old staple either gets ruined or gets a bit too well-worn to justify wearing it more. A gift card to Old Navy, Banana Republic, or a similar store is nice, but a Visa gift card works at every single one of those stores. Sometimes you need to shop around at a few different places before finding the right item. 

The flexibility of a prepaid Visa gift card is second to none. Since Visa gift cards work anywhere, you can rest easy knowing that you can shop to your heart’s content at any place you desire and pick out some nice items there. 


Going out for drinks with friends (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) gets expensive pretty quickly. People who go to Starbucks every day, spending around $4 on coffee, spend around $20 a week. That expense adds up. Because of this expense, there are a lot of people who shy away from exciting coffee drinks at local cafes. 

A Visa gift card put towards coffee is a great way to enjoy a special treat in your day alone or with friends. We love putting Visa gift cards towards something slightly out of the ordinary that makes any day special. This also applies to going out for a drink with friends on the weekends or after work. Happy hour drinks are even happier when you use a Visa gift card on them. 

Giving the gift of a gift card is a great way to show your appreciation to friends and family. 

How to Use a Visa Gift Card Online?

Visa gift cards are a bit harder to use than store-specific gift cards when you make online purchases. When using a Visa gift card, you must add the card details the same way you would add a credit or debit card. Before you make the purchase, double-check that you have a sufficient balance on the card. You cannot split online purchases the same way you can split them in-store. 

Visa gift cards must be registered and activated prior to online use, but the process is simple!

  • Activate — If you purchase your gift card from a retail location, it should be activated and ready for use. If you purchase it online, it might need to be activated once you receive it. You can do this online or through a toll-free number that’s on the card. 
  • Register — If you want to use your gift card online, you’ll have to register it so businesses can link it to your billing address. There are instructions on the card on how to accomplish this. You will likely have to enter the card information with your name, billing address, and phone number. This lets you complete the “enter billing address” stage of checkout. Once you have your card registered, you are good to go for online shopping! 

Are there differences between gift cards and e-gift cards?

Yes, but not many! They both let you give a great gift to friends and family. Deciding which one is the right purchase all comes down to preferences. If your friend uses their Google or Apple Pay a lot, then adding a gift card to that is a quick and easy process. If they use cards more, then a gift card is the way to go. You can purchase gift cards directly from Gift Card Granny and earn cashback as you do so!