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

Money is a great gift to give—but you don't always want to give a wad of cash. Here are unique ways to gift money digitally that your loved ones are sure to appreciate.

The holiday season is right around the corner and if you're trying to figure what to give to the people you love in your life, don't rule out money. Yep, it's actually a pretty 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 (or endless online orders at your door), and it will save the recipient from potentially having to return the item you got them.

In fact, 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 are willing give cash as a present. However, there are many creative, digital ways of giving money to explore that don't involve cash (after all, giving physical cash gifts might be something to avoid given the pandemic).

Here are some unique, creative ways to gift money that your friends and family will love.

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Send them a Visa gift card.

Gift cards are a classic in lieu of cash. While a gift card to a particular store or brand someone loves is great for someone you know well, it can be tricky to find one if you're unsure where the person in question shops.

If you find yourself in this situation, sending someone a Visa gift card is a great option—that way, they can put the money towards whatever they want. Gift card site GiftCardGranny offers an option to build 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 Jason Wolfe, CEO of GiftCardGranny. Plus, sending someone a gift card digitally prevents them from losing it.

You can find gift cards on Rakuten, which also allows you to earn cash back on the cards you buy.

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Contribute to a cause they care about.

Another way to show your appreciation for someone is to contribute to a cause that is important to them.

"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, shopping and retail expert at Rakuten Rewards. Whether it's supporting Planned Parenthood or 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.

If you really want to get someone a gift that keeps giving, Gall suggests buying shares of stock in a company they love or care about.

"They can watch it grow and feel vested in the company," adds Gall. You can buy fractional shares in companies such as Apple and Tesla for as little as $1 per share. This can be a great gift to give someone who is young and wants to start investing; its truly something they can put towards their future.

While you're at it, you could even gift someone a subscription to The Financial Gym, a platform where they can talk to a personal finance "trainer" to help them 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, or having the restaurant send champagne or dessert to your loved one's table, depending on your budget, says Woroch. Paying for an experience that someone wouldn't usually get for themself 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 with gifts, things can add up quickly, especially if you're shopping during the holidays for multiple gifts, as opposed to a special occasion. If you're trying to stick to a budget for gifts, Woroch says a good hack is to use any cash back you have earned from sites such as Rakuten or Cently (a browser tool) for your online purchases. Digitally send the cash back you earn to someone for the holidays or their birthday.

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