Choosing the Right Gift Certificate Wording

Posted on April 2, 2011 by

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If you’re making your own gift certificate and you want to give it or sell it to your customer, you need to carefully choose your wording. First, you need to know there are usually conditions attached to a certificate. None of it is mandatory, however it can be helpful to protect yourself against potential abuse from customers, and to limit applicability of your gift certificate.

Standard information to include in a gift certificate

  • name of your company
  • recipient’s name
  • purchaser’s name
  • certificate value (in dollars)
  • personal message
  • certificate serial number: this will help you to keep track of gift certificates, and making sure customers are not reprinting gift certificates for their profit.
  • business contact: your business address, website, email

Let’s go over a few conditions you might want to mention at the bottom (in small print) of the certificate.

Legal mentions to include in a gift certificate

  • restriction for a certain type of service/product: if you want to offer a gift certificate for a specific service, mention “valid only for service X” or “to be used towards the purchase of X”.
  • no cash value. This will protect you against customers willing to redeem the certificate for cash (people will try to do that!). Mention “no cash value” or “not redeemable for cash” on the certificate.
  • non-transferability: if you want the gift certificate to be redeemed only by the person whose name is mentioned on the certificate, mention “non-transferrable” on the certificate.
  • certificate expiration: this might not be legal in your state/country. Check your legal regulations or an attorney for this. If it is legal, you might want to include a certificate expiration date, to avoid having gift certificates out in the open for years. One year from now is a good default. Mention “expiration date: 2012-03-17?.

How to choose wording for a personal message

A personal message will vary substantially from one relationship to another. If the gift certificate is from a father to a son, the message tone and content will be very different compared to a corporate gift certificate. Here you can follow your inspiration, but we can give a few guidelines:

  • be precise: you can specify for what reason you’re giving this gift certificate. If you’re selling a gift certificate it might not be applicable but if you’re giving it, there is probably a reason. Tell your customer why you’re giving it.
  • use the right tone: it is important to know who you’re giving this certificate to. If you’re giving it to a customer, you’re not going to use the same language and vocabulary as if you give it to a loved one. Be professional or informal according to the occasion.


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