Is there a difference between a gift card and a gift voucher?

I work for a company where we have our own gift card/voucher. I always called it the [company name] gift card, but I see on our sites we sometimes talk about a gift card and sometimes about a gift voucher. While I would preferable always use the same noun, is there any difference in the meaning of those two words?

The reason I use gift card is because when you redeem it, you get a list of stores and you can exchange your gift card for a gift card from the selected stores. But talking about exchanging a gift card for another gift card might be a bit confusing. So I would explain it like: "Exchange your [company name] gift card for a [store] gift voucher", to hopefully provide a bit more clarity.

4 Answers 4


Source: What is the difference between a Gift Card, a Gift Voucher and a Promotion Code?

Gift Cards are treated like money. It works like a credit card where a stored monetary value (monetary value that is already in the card or value you load into it) can be used to purchase items.

Gift Vouchers on the other hand, are promotional gifts that have a certain monetary value or discount points. 

These vouchers are for single use only and can never be exchanged for cash. The voucher is surrendered at the time of purchase, and cannot be refunded in any form.

  • 1
    I've certainly come across gift cards that have similar restrictions to gift vouchers (can't be refilled, can't get change, must be used all at once). It's a slightly fuzzy distinction, partly based on physical form and partly on usage. And you can get online gift vouchers/cards these days that have no physical form. (Also, there is "gift certificate" which seems to be an Americanism.)
    – Stuart F
    Oct 12, 2022 at 15:28

The Cambridge English Dictionary gives the following definition of the word voucher

a piece of paper that can be used to pay for particular goods or services or that allows you to pay less than the usual price for them:

In other words, the word voucher refers to something (paper, online message or card) or that stands for payment for all or part of particular goods or services, usually from a particular store. So when foreign travel became difficult or impossible in the Spring of 2020, many airlines, hotels and other travel bodies provided what they called vouchers to those who had to cancel. fifty years ago, this would have been done by the issue of a piece of paper or cardboard with the name of the company and the extent and limitations of its coverage, both in money and in what the money could by and the date at which it would expire.

It is derived from the verb to vouch, meaning, again according to Cambridge (UK, by the way),

to be able from your knowledge or experience to say that something is true

So I take it that the issuers of a 'voucher' which is a kind of promise that, subject to whatever terms and conditions are set out on the voucher, they will accept it as payment for the goods/services specified.

As I say, 50 years ago this would usually take the form of a physical printed piece of paper or cardboard. Now paper has been replaced by electronic records and messages exchanged between business and client.

This is distinct from a (presumably plastic) card, programmed with a fixed sum of money bought by a customer as a gift to a relative, friend or even employee. So a parent of an adult child might buy a John Lewis gift card, to be spent something s/he might want. It takes the form of two cards: the programmed piece of plastic, and the cardboard card with a suitable picture and message and, of course, its envelope.

The distinction is, I think, clear as it stands. But there is ample room for it to become blurred with time and casual usage. After all, both card and voucher stand for a sum of money to be accepted as payment by the issuer. These restrictions, of course, make both different from the credit or debit card.


As the attributive noun "gift" remains the same, in essence, you are asking for the difference between a voucher and a card.

In this sense, a voucher is as described in any reasonable dictionary: you can look that up yourself. In general terms, it is a document that is worth a certain amount when used in connection with the purchase of a particular product.

A card implies something that is personal to the recipient by virtue of having a message to the recipient on it. Compare birthday card, Christmas card, anniversary card.

A card need not necessarily imply an anniversary but certainly commemorates or recognises an event of some sort.

The idea of "gift" is that it means that its noun (gift card, gift voucher, gift horse, etc) has been given to the recipient.


As already explained by Tuffy, the word voucher, in the sense that is relevant here, can be used for anything that entitles someone (which can either a specific named person, or a bearer) to some goods or services (or a discount on some goods or services), but is unlike cash in that its use is limited in some way (to the specific, described, goods/services, and/or the goods/services from a particular business, and/or a specific time period, etc.).

A gift voucher would then, obviously, be a voucher that is used or intended to be used as a gift of some sort, either from the purchaser to the person who will use it, or from the business to the customer (the latter are not genuine gifts, because they effectively amount to no more than extending a discount to the customer, but that won't prevent advertisers from describing them as gifts).

Whether the word voucher will actually be used for something for which it can, in principle, be used is a matter of the traditions and practices of a particular field of business, and of the impression that the issuer of the vouchers wishes to leave on the customers. Some businesses, for such reasons, prefer to use other terms, such as certificate, coupon, or ticket for something that they could have called a voucher, so far as the meanings of words are concerned. Traditionally, the word voucher was, for example, used more widely in the travel industry than in most other fields of business, but was, within that industry not used for the documents entitling travellers to specific transportation services. Also, voucher is perceived by most people as more formal than, say, coupon, so one's choice between the two may be influenced by how formal one wishes to sound.

There is no strict rule on whether voucher is the best word to use for something that a business issues, as long as it fits the broad definition formulated in the first paragraph of this answer. A gift voucher that is embodied in the form of a card can be called a gift card; which of these terms one will prefer to use for such a thing is not governed by any strict rules.

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