Financial gifts can be a valuable – and fun – choice for the holidays

In a year when many will be skipping in-person shopping, gifts like money and gift cards may take on a new meaning.

Tags: Banking basics, Budgeting, Planning
Published: November 15, 2021

There’s no way around it – the holidays will likely feel different to many of us this year. Though travel or seeing family or friends may not be possible, you’ll still want to show those close to you that you care.  Financial gifts have several perks – they’re convenient for the gift-giver and allow the gift recipient to spend the money on something they really want. Here are several options to explore, plus fun and creative ways to make your gift extra special.

Gift cards

You may want to think twice about giving a crisp bill straight from the bank this year. Since so many merchants have moved to contactless payments during the pandemic, it can be hard to spend cash. Not to mention the coin shortage!

However, there are other ways to give money directly. Visa® and Mastercard®-branded gift cards are a smart and safe payment alternative during COVID-19. Similar to cash, these gift cards are not specific to any merchant so you can spend them anywhere these are accepted. For ultimate convenience, purchase a U.S. Bank Visa Gift Card at your local U.S. Bank branch. These cards can be loaded with any amount between $25 and $500, and they can be replaced if lost or stolen if the card number is available.

If you want to get a little more personalized, gift cards to a restaurant, store or fun activity are another great option. These cards are perfect for people looking for an experience instead of an object. You can also purchase gift cards for music, clothing or technology – often starting at $5. This gesture shows you’re thinking of what the person receiving the gift would really enjoy, and it encourages them to spend money on something they might not otherwise splurge on. This is also a great way to support local businesses that may be struggling due to COVID-19. Research restaurants and shops in the recipient’s local area, then purchase a gift card online. These can usually be sent electronically or in the mail.

Once you’ve made your list of gift recipients and have your gift cards, make your gift extra special by using  supplies like markers, stickers and ribbon to decorate your gifts.

Stocks and savings bonds

Investments are a great gift idea as well. These include stocks and savings bonds, which typically appreciate in value over time.

Savings bonds are a good option for kids of all ages. They’re designed to grow gradually over time, and can’t be touched for at least twelve months – although there’s an incentive to wait to redeem the cash until years later. This is a wonderful way to help support a child’s future, knowing they can use the money when the right time comes.

Savings bonds are a bit tricky to give in-person as it’s hard to get a physical bond copy in the U.S. To get one, you would need to buy it with your income tax refund. However, if you’re feeling creative, you can still make the exchange special by recording a video of yourself for the recipient with a personal message.

Stocks can also be a unique gift for people of all ages. Do your research and find an affordable stock that may have special meaning to the giftee (i.e. a music-industry related stock for a music-lover). This can be especially fun for savvy teenagers and young adults who may want to learn how to invest. Even if you only purchase a few pieces of stock, you can always buy more for future holidays/birthday to grow the recipient’s portfolio. If you choose this option, be sure to budget for the purchase fees in advance when you’re planning out your gifting. 

Charitable donations

Making a charitable donation in a recipient’s name is a thoughtful gift that also help others. With so many wonderful organizations to choose from, you can select one that means something special to you, or that you know the recipient feels close to. This year, you may want to consider choosing causes supporting COVID-19 relief. Organizations providing COVID-19 medical services, supplies and local funding can be found through Charity Navigator.

Once you’ve selected an organization, take the extra step to do some research and confirm the legitimacy to avoid a scam. You can check out the IRS’ Tax Exempt Organization Search to make sure the organization is tax-exempt.

To make this gift extra meaningful, write a letter to your gift recipient letting them know why you chose the specific charity, what it means to you and why you think they’ll be happy to support the cause too. You can even send photos from the organization’s website showing the positive work they’re doing, so that your gift recipient can see exactly how the funds will help.

Do you know someone who would like a gift card this year? Click here to learn more about the U.S. Bank Visa Gift card.


If you’re looking for ways to support your local businesses this holiday season, here are some ways to give along with helping out your community.