Currency vs. Unit backed gift cards

When you create an item for sale in Gift Up! you get to choose between 2 backing types: Currency-backed or Unit-backed. There are some differences between these two types, along with some restrictions that are worth understanding before deciding which is right for your item & business. 

TLDR; Choose unit backed gift cards if…

We'd suggest that you'd choose unit backed gift cards if, and only if: 

  1. You are planning on redeeming them via our redeem app or our API
  2. You are 100% happy taking whole units off the gift card only (i.e. 1, 2, 3…)

If this is not the case or you need to offer your customers flexibility and transferability on what they spend it on, we'd suggest opting for the more flexible currency backing type where you can take any currency amount off a gift card.

How to choose between Currency and Unit backing types

The key differences between them boils down to this: 

  1. Unit backed gift cards cannot be redeemed via our integrations (for example, you use Shopify, these are not redeemable in your cart). They can only be redeemed via our redeem app and our API
  2. Unit backed gift cards cannot be redeemed in partial units, meaning you cannot take 1.5 units off of a gift card, you need to choose between 1 or 2 (in that instance). Whereas you can take any amount off of a currency backed gift card, for example $1.50.

This makes unit backed gift cards great for certain situations, but not necessarily for others. Let's look at the following 3 scenarios where it appears unit backed gift cards are a good fit:

Scenario 1) 10 night stay at a hotel

A unit backed gift card here is great because you never stay half a night in a hotel, it's all or nothing. You can choose a unit backed or a currency backed gift card depending on what flexibility you want to offer your guests. If you want patrons to only be use their gift card on overnight stays, then unit backed will work really well. If you want patrons to be able to use their gift card in the restaurant, say, then a currency backed gift card is the way to go. 

Scenario 2) 5 x 1-hour massages at your practice

A unit backed gift card looks like a great fit here, and it can work, but it's not a clear decision. If your customer wants to have a 90 minute massage, how are you planning on handling that? Are you allowing discretion here and wanting to take 1.5 massages off the gift card? If so, you cannot do that via unit backed gift cards (you must choose between 1 and 2 in this instance), this leaves you with a problem, so it's best to choose currency as your backing type and just take the value of the service received off the gift card balance.

Scenario 3) 1 specific experience, worth $100 at your show

A unit backed gift card, again looks great here, except, as per scenario 2, if you foresee gift cardholders wanting to swap to a different experience of a lesser value, say $80, then you are left with a difficult choice because you can only redeem 1 whole unit off of this gift card, not 0.8 ($80/$100 = 0.8). So in this case, if this kind of flexibility is important to you, a currency backed gift card is the better choice. 

Features table

Feature Currency backed Unit backed
Maximum balance Unlimited Unlimited
Redemption minimum amount $0.01 1 unit
Can partially redeem Yes, in increments of $0.01 Yes, in increments of 1 whole unit
Customer can choose a custom amount/balance when purchasing Yes No
Redeemable in our redeem app Yes Yes
Redeemable in our API Yes Yes
Redeemable in our integrations (WooCommerce, Vend, Shopify etc…) Yes No
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