Gift cards are going viral, with half now able to be sent electronically this holiday season, according to the annual survey by the North Palm Beach-based Bankrate.com and CreditCards.com.
Some 51 percent of 63 gift card vendors -- from retailers to restaurants -- offer instant online delivery, the survey found.
That's up from last year's 41 percent sending gift cards via e-mail, said Janna Herron, a gift- and credit card expert at Bankrate.com, a consumer financial website.
"With more companies offering virtual gift cards, it's easier and faster to get your loved one a gift they can use,'' she said.
"In some cases, gift cards are even better than cash because they provide added benefit such as free shipping or delivery," Herron said.
A 2009 federal law have also made them more consumer friendly: Only 8 percent now have expiration dates or maintenance fees while 14 percent charge purchase fees, she said.
Gift cards are now on 57 percent of Americans' holiday wish list -- the highest rate ever, according to a survey conducted this season by the National Retail Federation.
In fact, it remains the most popular gift with consumers putting a gift card ahead of clothing (50 percent), electronics (35 percent) and jewelry (23 percent), according to the federation.
firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-356-4205. Follow me on Twitter @donnagehrkeCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun