5 Ways to Gift Money Digitally—That Don't Involve Cash

Money makes a great gift, but you don't always want to hand over a wad of cash. Here are unique ways to gift money digitally that giftees will appreciate.

If you're contemplating a meaningful gift for a loved one, don't rule out money. Yep, it's actually a great gift—and no, it's not tacky. Even better, gifting money can be something you do for birthdays and other celebrations, not just for the holidays. It's a great way to avoid long lines at the mall, and relieves your giftee from potentially having to return the item you bought them.

A 2019 survey by Mint on holiday gift-giving found that 61 percent of Americans preferred to receive cash over other presents, but only 19 percent said they were willing give cash as a present. Perhaps they didn't know about these creative, digital ways of giving money that don't involve cash.

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Send them a Visa gift card.

Gift cards are a classic in-lieu-of-cash idea. A gift card to a particular store or brand someone loves is great for someone you know well, but can be tricky if you're unsure where your giftee shops. In this case, a Visa gift card is a great option because they can use it for whatever they want. For a more customized approach, Gift Card Granny offers a personalized Visa gift card where you can upload a picture and message to go on the card.

"Being creative with your gift can elevate it to a level of significance that has lasting and loving connectivity," says Gift Card Granny CEO Jason Wolfe. Plus, sending someone a gift card digitally prevents them from losing it. You can find also gift cards on Rakuten, which allows you to earn cash back on the cards you buy.

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Contribute to a cause they care about.

"If you're stuck on what to get the person that has everything, make a monetary donation to a charity that they are passionate about," says Kristen Gall, president at Rakuten Rewards. From Planned Parenthood to Greenpeace, whether it's $20 or $200, a charitable gift is a thoughtful and impactful way to show you care.

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Invest in their future—literally.

For a gift that keeps giving, Gall suggests buying shares of stock in a company your giftee loves or cares about. "They can watch it grow and feel vested in the company," adds Gall.

Fractional shares in companies like Apple and Tesla, available for as little as $1 per share, is a great gift for someone who is young and wants to start investing. It's truly something they can put toward their future.

Alternatively, consider gifting a subscription to The Financial Gym, a platform where your loved one can talk to a personal finance "trainer". This program helps members learn about and organize their money to better achieve goals such as paying down debt, investing, or saving for the future.

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Prepay for a service such as a spa day or a meal.

Wellness is always a winner when it comes to gifts. Try prepaying for a pal's self-care service, such as a massage or a mani-pedi. Money-saving expert Andrea Woroch suggests going a step further and pre-booking the appointment as well. "My sister-in-law did this, and it was nice to just go in and out," says Woroch. "I just showed up and enjoyed the massage."

Other options include paying for a dinner out, suggests Woroch, or having the restaurant send champagne or dessert to your loved one's table (depending on your budget). Paying for an experience that your loved ones wouldn't usually get for themselves makes a memorable gift.

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Give the cash back you earn online.

As much as we want to spoil our loved ones, expenses can pile up quickly, especially if you're shopping for multiple gifts. To stretch your gift-giving budget, Woroch recommends using the cash back you've earned from online purchases on sites like Rakuten or Cently (a browser tool). You can digitally send that cash back to someone as a gift.

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