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Small Business Gift Cards Guide & Best Digital Gift Card Systems

By offering gift cards for your small business, you can entice new customers, encourage more spending, and improve your cash flow.

    Shannon Vissers
  • UPDATED

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

Gift cards for small business are no longer optional for most restaurant, retail, or service-based companies. Moreover, businesses can benefit from a digital gift card system that allows customers to redeem an electronic gift card from their smartphone (though many consumers still prefer physical to digital cards). Here are just a few of the many benefits offered by small business gift cards:

  • Increased Spending: According to consumer research from Fiserv (linked above), customers paying with gift cards typically spend more than the value of their card.
  • Repeat Business: Gift cards introduce new customers to your business, and you can keep them coming back by collecting their information at your POS or on your website.
  • Customers Demand It: Customers increasingly demand small business gift cards that they can gift their friends and family for birthdays, holidays, and other occasions. Not having a gift card system for your small business is essentially leaving money on the table.

Read on to learn about the top POS systems that offer gift cards for small businesses.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

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Best for customizability.
Best for customizability.

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Best for QSR POS.
Best for QSR POS.

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Best free.
Best free.

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Best for retailers.
Best for retailers.

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Best for affordable restaurant POS.
Best for affordable restaurant POS.

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Best for advanced restaurant POS.
Best for advanced restaurant POS.

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Best for professionally developed eCommerce websites.
Best for professionally developed eCommerce websites.

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Best for multichannel sellers.
Best for multichannel sellers.

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Best for QuickBooks Desktop users.
Best for QuickBooks Desktop users.

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Best for basic online store.
Best for basic online store.

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How Do I Sell Gift Cards For My Small Business?

Now that you’re aware of some of the benefits of a gift card program for small businesses, let’s talk about how to add gift cards to your offerings.

Types Of Gift Cards To Sell For Your Small Business

Here are a few examples of the types of gift cards you can purchase to see what might be the best fit for your business.

Digital Gift Cards

Digital gift cards (also known as electronic or “eGift” cards) give customers the ability to purchase gift cards online, which can be sent to a friend or used by the customer on your website or in your store. They are also more affordable to sell—while eGift cards have no production cost, traditional gift cards cost about $1 each to produce.

Some electronic gift cards have a numerical code that you can redeem from your terminal, like a regular credit card transaction. Other programs feature a regular barcode or a QR code (2D barcode) that your business’s POS system can scan from the customer’s phone or printout. Customers may be able to add their cards to a digital wallet (e.g., Apple Pay) on their phones.

Barcode Gift Cards

A gift card with a barcode acts as a unique account for the customer that uses it. You can store and search a customer’s information via their account using a barcode scanner. When the gift card’s balance hits zero, there is usually the option to reload it. Barcodes tend to be popular for membership or customer loyalty programs because they are quicker to scan and don’t require as much data security.

Digital gift cards that use barcodes can be scanned from a phone or printed piece of paper. You can also use gift cards with QR codes, a type of barcode that requires either a 2D barcode scanner or a smartphone/iPad/tablet to read.

Magnetic-Stripe Gift Cards

More often than not, physical gift cards use magnetic stripes, as they have superior data security compared to barcodes. These reloadable cards swipe through your credit card terminal the same as any debit or credit card, and the amount gets automatically deducted from the customer’s account information stored on the stripe.

The only issue with magnetic stripes is that if the card is stored for a long time in a wallet or purse, the stripe can eventually wear out, and it can be difficult to look up the customer’s information in your system. Ideally, the card should also have a printed number that you can look up. Some magstripe cards may also have a barcode.

What About Gift Certificates?

Fun fact: Due to people using counterfeit gift certificates, Blockbuster invented the gift card in 1994. In addition to the counterfeit risk, gift certificates also aren’t reusable or reloadable, which can make it less likely that the customer will spend more at your business than whatever the certificate entitles them to. And being made of paper, certificates are far less durable than gift cards and more difficult to track and manage credit for if the customer doesn’t spend the entire balance.

However, gift certificates can still be advantageous, especially for certain business types. Generally, gift certificates are more effective for services rather than for monetary amounts (for example, a spa service or hotel stay). Gift certificates are also less costly to produce than gift cards so that could also be a consideration.

Gift Card Systems With Your POS

Most modern POS systems offer some type of built-in gift card functionality. Offering cards through your POS is the easiest way to get started, and it ensures that your program works with your POS. A POS with an in-house gift card program makes things easier in terms of gift card payment processing and reporting. You can easily track both gift card sales and redemptions and generally see how well your gift card program is going.

Integrate With Third-Party Gift Card App

You can also shop around and select your own gift card company directly if you have specific or unique needs that your POS system’s gift card functionality doesn’t provide. But if you plan on using these cards with your POS, make sure that they’re compatible first. If you already have a gift card provider from a third party, some companies have a system in place that allows you to transfer your information into their program seamlessly.

Standalone Third-Party Gift Cards

In some cases, a company may opt for a standalone gift card company because they use a very basic POS that doesn’t have any gift card integrations, the price is too high, etc. If the gift card company you want to use does not work with your POS, you will need to use a workaround to process gift card transactions separately from regular transactions.

Use An eGift Card App

A digital-only gift card option can be an easier, greener way to offer gift cards without spending too much on plastic—and may even allow you to avoid integrating your POS if you don’t want to. GiftFly, Gift Up!, Yiftee, and Givex are some examples of eGift card companies/apps for small businesses. As mentioned, many cloud POS providers offer digital gift card options too, and many POS systems also integrate with third-party gift card apps.

10 Best POS Digital Gift Card Systems For Small Business

For small business gift cards, check out these systems:

  • Revel Systems: Best For Customizability
  • Lightspeed Retail: Best For Retailers
  • Clover: Best For QSR POS
  • TouchBistro: Best For Affordable Restaurant POS
  • Toast: Best For Advanced Restaurant POS
  • Square: Best Free
  • Shopify POS: Best For Multichannel Sellers
  • QuickBooks POS: Best For QuickBooks Desktop Users
  • Stripe: Best For Professionally Developed eCom Websites
  • Shift4Shop: Best For Basic Online Store

1. Revel Systems: Best For Customizability

Revel POS Systems



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revel gift card system for small business

Pros

  • Enterprise-capable iPad POS
  • In-house & third-party gift card options available
  • Digital & physical cards

Cons

  • Long-term contract
  • Additional cost to accept gift cards

Revel Systems Features

The following are some features of Revel Systems and its gift cards for small businesses:

  • Personalized onboarding
  • Restaurant & retail management
  • Suitable for any size business, including multilocation
  • Sell digital gift cards on online ordering website
  • Reloadable gift cards
  • Issue promotional gift cards
  • Gift card tracking & reporting
  • Gift card integrations include Givex, Incentivio, eCard Systems, Paytronix, LoyaltyPlant, Valuetec, & Synergy Loyalty Solutions

Revel Systems Pricing

Revel Systems pricing starts at $99/month per terminal, with a two-terminal minimum. Gift cards are a paid add-on, but you’ll have to contact Revel to find out how much it will cost to add gift cards to your package.

Hardware Cost

Revel runs on iPad POS hardware, which you can purchase on your own or from Revel directly. You can call Revel for a personalized hardware quote.

Payment Processing

Revel has its own payment processor, Revel Advantage, which charges 2.49% + $0.15 for in-person transactions. Alternatively, you can integrate your Revel POS with an outside processor or payment gateway such as First Data, Elavon, Heartland, TSYS, Worldpay, or Chase.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

To qualify for the lowest monthly rate, you will need to commit to a three-year processing contract with Revel Advantage. It may be possible to get a shorter contract, but not with the $99/month base price.

Where Revel Systems Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

Revel is a robust and highly customizable iPad POS for restaurants and retail. Revel has its own proprietary gift card system, which is available as an add-on for an additional monthly fee. Once you’ve signed up, you can order gift cards through your sales rep or use Revel’s partner eCard Systems to design and order your physical cards. You can also sell digital gift cards on your website, which customers can redeem online or in person. Revel additionally integrates with several other gift card programs.

Gift card reporting is available through your Revel POS system to track sales and view how many cards are in circulation. You can also import information into Revel if you previously used a gift card program with another POS provider.

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2. Clover: Best For QSR POS

Clover POS



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clover gift cards for small business

Pros

  • POS works for QSR, full-service restaurants, retail, or service-based businesses
  • No recurring monthly cost to accept gift cards
  • Digital & physical gift cards
  • Sell gift cards online & in-person

Cons

  • Some Clover vendors are predatory
  • Gift cards not compatible with Clover Go

Clover Features

Here are some popular features of Clover POS and its gift card system for small business:

  • Sleek, purpose-built POS hardware
  • Easy to customize your POS with free or purchased apps
  • Sell QR code gift cards from POS or website
  • Easy digital gift card redemption from smartphones
  • Customers can send digital gift cards with text, email, or app
  • Online ordering website included on all Clover plans for restaurants
  • Integrates with third-party gift cards for POS systems, including Loopz, Givex, GiftFly, LoyLap, & Factor4

Clover Pricing

Clover pricing starts at $0/month for payments only, but in order to access the Clover App Market that includes gift cards, you’ll need at least the $9.95/month Clover Essentials plan. For a more complete feature set, most businesses will choose at least the Register plan or Counter Service plan, which are both $39.95/month. (Clover plans purchased from a vendor other than Clover.com may have different pricing.)

Hardware Cost

Clover hardware options include Clover Station ($1,349 to $1,649), Clover Mini ($749), and Clover Flex ($499). You can mix and match these devices and also purchase additional POS accessories. Note that all of these devices have built-in barcode scanning, though only Clover Station comes with a cash register.

Payment Processing

When you purchase from Clover.com, Clover’s in-person payment processing rates range from 2.3% to 2.6% + $0.10 depending on your monthly software plan. Clover gift cards are processed at a special flat rate of 2.5%.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Though Clover plans are month-to-month with flat-fee processing when purchased from Clover.com, various other banks, merchant services providers, and other entities sell Clover POS systems. Whenever you buy Clover hardware, it comes with a software plan and merchant services agreement. Depending on the vendor, some Clover plans may come with a long-term service agreement and expensive, opaque processing fees. For this reason, it’s best to purchase your system from Clover.com or a recommended Clover vendor.

Where Clover Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

Clover POS uses app-based software and its own custom-built Android POS hardware. Though you can use Clover with just about any industry, Clover is especially popular with and suited for quick-service restaurants (QSR) such as coffee shops, and offers a software plan specifically for counter-service businesses. Using the free Clover Gift Cards app, you can choose from traditional magnetic stripe gift cards or eGift cards that your customers can keep right on their smartphones. There is no monthly fee, but you’ll be charged $0.05 per every $2 of gift card value.

Both digital and physical cards purchased through Clover Gift Cards can be purchased and redeemed in-store. The digital option is especially convenient, as they can be purchased and redeemed directly from customers’ phones. Your customers can also purchase and redeem digital gift cards from your Clover website, as well as send digital gift cards to friends and family.

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3. Square: Best Free

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square pos gift card

Pros

  • Free POS with free gift cards
  • Free online store
  • Digital & physical gift cards
  • Can be used online & in-store

Cons

  • No dedicated merchant account
  • Can’t sell physical gift cards online

Square Features

Square POS includes the following feaures:

  • Mobile & countertop POS
  • POS be used in any industry
  • Sell & redeem digital gift cards online & at POS
  • Sell & redeem physical gift cards at POS
  • Cards can be tracked in Square’s gift card sales reports
  • Issue refunds to physical or eGift cards
  • Sell eGift cards with discounted promotional pricing
  • Customers can check card balance online
  • Integrates with Gift Up!, Pintuna, GoParrot, and other gift card software

Square Pricing

Square POS is a free app and it’s free to sell and accept gift cards with Square as well; you only have to pay payment processing fees and the cost of any plastic gift cards you purchase.

Hardware Cost

Square can be used with just about any mobile device or one of Square’s proprietary hardware solutions such as Square Terminal ($299) or Square Register ($799). Square accounts come with a free credit card swiper and you can also purchase various equipment from Square’s website, including a Bluetooth card reader for chip and swipe ($49) or Square Stand for iPad ($149).

Payment Processing

Square Payments charges 2.6% + $0.10 for in-person transactions and 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions. Accordingly, you will pay 2.9% + $0.30 for each gift card that’s purchased online, or 2.6% +$0.10 if you sell a card with your POS. Square does not integrate with any outside payment processors.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Square is pay-as-you-go, meaning there is no commitment and you can stop using the POS at any time without incurring any penalty. One thing to know is that Square does not come with your own merchant account; as a payment service provider (PSP), Square has an aggregate merchant account model, which can sometimes lead to account instability, withheld funds, and (rarely) sudden account terminations.

Where Square Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

Square has become known throughout the restaurant and retail industries for its free, easy-to-use POS and mobile processing system. The same could be said of the company’s free program of gift cards for businesses. Square stands out for its affordable and transparent gift card pricing and easy ordering. You can set up digital or physical gift cards with just a few clicks within the Square app.

Square offers starter packs as well as fully customized physical gift cards featuring your own art. Square’s physical gift cards (which you’ll need to order from eCard Systems) come with a magnetic stripe as well as a QR code and a standard bar code, and are reloadable. Square also offers digital gift cards, which you can sell online or in person. One of the only limitations is you can’t sell physical gift cards from your Square website.

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4. Lightspeed: Best For Retailers

Lightspeed Retail POS



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lightspeed retail gift card tracking screen

Pros

  • Retail-specific POS
  • No additional cost to accept gift cards
  • Digital & physical gift cards
  • Sell & redeem gift cards online or in-person

Cons

  • Best price requires one-year commitment and use of Lightspeed Payments

Lightspeed Retail Features

Lightspeed Retail offers gift cards for small businesses as well as other features:

  • Retail-centric feature set
  • Advanced retail inventory management
  • Built-in physical & digital gift card acceptance
  • Sell digital & physical gift cards online
  • Issue printable barcode gift cards
  • Rechargeable gift cards
  • Issue promotional gift cards
  • Gift card tracking, history, & details
  • Gift card integrations with TapMango, Incentivio, LoyalAction, vOucher, MDware, & Kangaroo Rewards

Lightspeed Retail Pricing

Lightspeed Retail pricing starts at $69/month if you purchase an annual subscription with Lightspeed Payments. If you have a month-to-month contract, you’ll have a starting price of $79/month, or $119/month without Lightspeed Payments. Annual plans with eCommerce and Lightspeed Payments start at $119/month.

Hardware Cost

Lightspeed uses iPad and desktop PC hardware, which you can source yourself or purchase from Lightspeed. Contact Lightspeed for a pricing quote if you need to purchase a hardware kit.

Payment Processing

Processing with Lightspeed Payments is 2.6% + $0.10 for all in-person payments, or 2.6% + $0.30 for card-not-present and online transactions. Alternatively, you can integrate a different payment processor of your choice for a higher monthly fee.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

As mentioned, month-to-month plans are available, but you’ll have to commit for one year to get the lowest price.

Where Lightspeed Retail Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

Lightspeed offers a cloud-based retail POS called Lightspeed Retail that gives you plenty of retail gift card options and includes gift cards at no additional monthly cost. You can create and purchase physical or digital gift cards directly through your Lightspeed dashboard, and you can sell a digital or physical card from your online store (if you have Lightspeed eCommerce enabled) or from your POS. Physical gift cards will need to be purchased through a third-party supplier, however. You can choose any third-party supplier, although Lightspeed recommends Plastic Printers. One thing to note is that gift card barcodes must be printed using EAN-13 or UPC-A standards for them to be compatible with your POS.

Lightspeed gift cards can be redeemed in person or online. In addition to issuing gift cards, you can also view and transfer gift card balances from your Lightspeed POS. Yet another option is to use one of Lightspeed’s many third-party integrations to sell physical or digital gift cards. One integration of note is the free MDWare integration, which lets you print paper barcode gift cards for free.

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5. TouchBistro: Best For Affordable Restaurant POS

TouchBistro



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touchbistro pos on ipad

Pros

  • Affordable restaurant POS
  • Physical & digital gift cards
  • Can sell eGift cards at POS
  • Gift cards integrate with in-house loyalty program

Cons

  • Additional monthly charge for gift cards
  • Plans require a contract

TouchBistro Features

Here are some things to know about TouchBistro and its gift card system for small business:

  • Suitable for any type of bar or restaurant (cafe, fine dining, fast-casual, food truck, brewery, etc.)
  • Restaurant management features such as KDS, menu management, table management, & tableside ordering
  • Multilocation restaurant gift cards
  • Personalize physical gift cards with your restaurant’s logo
  • Customers can pay for online orders using digital gift cards
  • Customers can buy and send eGift cards to friends & family
  • Let customers earn gift cards as loyalty rewards

TouchBistro Pricing

TouchBistro plans start at $69/month, and adding gift card functionality is another $25/month. If you want an online ordering website where customers can buy and redeem gift cards, you will pay an additional $50/month, for a total monthly spend of $144/month.

Hardware Cost

TouchBistro uses iPad POS hardware. To get pricing, you will have to reach out to TouchBistro for a custom quote.

Payment Processing

TouchBistro integrates with several payment processors, including its own TouchBistro Payments, powered by Chase. TB Payments uses a cost-plus processing model.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

TouchBistro does require a contract that you cannot exit early without penalty, and does not offer month-to-month pricing. Your contract length will be specified in your TouchBistro pricing quote.

Where TouchBistro Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

TouchBistro is an affordable, easy-to-use restaurant POS for iPad that lets you sell branded, customized gift cards from your restaurant, and digital gift cards online or from your POS. TouchBistro gift cards can be tracked using your POS and redeemed at any of your store locations; digital gift cards can be redeemed online or in-person from your customer’s smartphone. TouchBistro gift cards also integrate with your loyalty program if you have this TouchBistro add-on enabled as well. For example, customers can earn gift cards as rewards through the TouchBistro loyalty program.

One thing to note about TouchBistro is that it is compatible with various payment processors, but not all of those processors have gift card-compatible terminals. Notably, TouchBistro is compatible with Square POS, whose readers are indeed gift card-compatible (via swipe or manual card number entry).

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6. Toast: Best For Advanced Restaurant POS

Toast POS



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Toast small business gift card program

Pros

  • Advanced restaurant POS
  • Physical & digital gift cards
  • Gift cards redeemable online & in-person
  • In-house and third-party gift card options

Cons

  • Additional monthly cost to accept gift cards
  • Contract required

Toast Features

Toast POS offers the following features for restaurant businesses that want to offer gift cards:

  • Purpose-built restaurant-grade POS hardware
  • Advanced restaurant features include delivery services, branded online ordering app, contactless dining, & more
  • Sell digital gift cards online & from POS
  • Sell customized physical gift cards at your POS tailored to your restaurant’s brand
  • Guests can redeem gift cards online or in-person
  • Customers can check gift card balance online and reload gift cards online
  • Customers can schedule gift card sends (via text or email) for specific date & time
  • Gift card integrations include Paytronix, Punchh, Smart Transaction Systems, SwipeIt, & The Customer Connection (TCC)

Toast Pricing

Toast pricing starts at $0/month for the Pay-As-You-Go package. This package has a higher payment processing fee than the Standard package, and the processing fee is even higher if you choose to add gift cards and online ordering to your package. If you pay upfront (recommended), your base price will be $69/month, +$50/month for gift cards, +$75/month for online ordering (if you want to sell and accept gift cards online), for a total monthly spend of $194/month.

Hardware Cost

You can get a Toast starter kit for $0 with the Pay-As-You-Go plan, but again, you’ll pay a higher payment processing fee. If you purchase your hardware outright, you can get a Countertop Kit (includes Toast Flex POS terminal, Toast Tap payment device, and router) for $799. You can also buy accessories like cash drawers and handheld ordering devices from Toast’s website.

Payment Processing

Toast’s standard in-person payment processing fee is 2.49% + $0.15. On the Pay-As-You Go plan, you’ll pay 2.99% + $0.15, or 3.39% + $0.15 if you add gift cards and online ordering. For online transactions (including online gift card redemption), the fee is 3.5% + $0.15 on either plan.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Toast requires a minimum 2-year contract that includes a processing contract (you cannot use an outside processor with Toast so you are limited to using Toast Payments) and has an early termination fee. Make sure you closely read your contract to make sure you understand all the terms and fees.

Where Toast Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

Toast is an Android POS system specifically designed for restaurants with especially strong digital ordering options. Toast is an excellent choice if you want an advanced restaurant POS with a digital and/or traditional gift card program as well as third-party options. You can also use one of Toast’s third-party integrations to build your gift card program.

With a paid add-on, Toast includes the ability to sell gift cards online or at your POS. Your customers can also redeem their cards online or at your POS, and even reload cards themselves on your website. Toast makes it easy for customers to purchase digital gift cards as gifts, letting them schedule for the card to be texted or emailed on a specific date and time. Sold gift cards can be easily tracked from your Analytics & Reports portal.

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7. Stripe: Best For Professionally Developed eCommerce Websites

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Stripe with GiftPro integration

Pros

  • Online payment processor with developer-friendly API
  • Various integrations to sell gift cards online
  • Sell digital gift cards & gift vouchers on your website

Cons

  • Not for in-person (POS) gift card sales
  • Not for high-risk businesses

Stripe Features

Some of Stripe’s most popular features include:

  • Excellent developer tools
  • Highly customizable
  • International selling & multicurrency capabilities
  • Easily integrates with a variety of supported languages/frameworks (Ruby, Python, PHP, Java, Node, Go, etc.)
  • Gift card integrations include GiftPro (pictured above), Gift Up!, Splose, Loyal Patron, GiftFly, & more
  • eCommerce platform integrations include WooCommerce, Squarespace, BigCommerce, Shopify, & more

Stripe Pricing

There are no costs to implement Stripe into your eCommerce website aside from payment processing fees. Whatever gift card program you use with Stripe may charge its own fees, however.

Hardware Cost

N/A

Payment Processing

Stripe’s online payment processing has a flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30. The gift card software you use with Stripe may or may not charge an additional transaction fee on gift card purchases.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Stripe is pay-as-you go with no contract. However, one thing to be aware of with Stripe is that it is a PSP/third-party processor like Square or PayPal. (Shopify Payments, another PSP, is actually powered by Stripe.) In addition to having potential issues with account stability, PSPs are not suitable for high-risk businesses.

Where Stripe Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

Stripe is a flexible online payment processor that is ideal for online businesses that want to sell gift cards using a professionally developed website. To get the most out of Stripe, you will need developer expertise; Stripe is not a DIY all-in-one solution for beginners to sell gift cards online. If you don’t have technical web developer skills, you may need to hire a web developer to implement Stripe into your website. You can use one of Stripe’s pre-built website builder integrations, such as WooCommerce, to create your eComm website, but again, given its advanced capabilities, Stripe is mainly geared toward professionally developed websites.

Stripe has pre-built integrations with several digital gift card software solutions, but you can also build your own integrations using the API.

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8. Shopify POS: Best For Multichannel Sellers

Shopify POS



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shopify egift card example

Pros

  • Multichannel retail POS
  • Multiple options for gift card redemption, including social media
  • Physical, digital, & printed paper gift cards
  • No additional cost to accept gift cards

Cons

  • Cards are not reloadable
  • No dedicated merchant account

Shopify POS Features

Shopify POS offers gift cards for small businesses and other features:

  • Multichannel retail POS
  • Mobile & countertop POS options
  • Sell physical and digital gift cards on POS & online
  • Issue promotional gift cards
  • Issue refunds on gift cards
  • Customers can add gift cards to Apple Wallet
  • Integrates with Gift Up!, Rise.ai, Growave, Govalo, & other gift card software

Shopify Pricing

Shopify POS plans start at just $5/month for the Shopify Starter POS plan, which includes gift card functionality. If you want an online store where customers can purchase and redeem gift cards, you’ll need at least the $29/month Basic plan.

Hardware Cost

Shopify POS runs on iOS and Android devices, though to use all the features you’ll need an iPad. But all you really need to start selling is a mobile device and a Shopify card reader, which costs $49 on Shopify’s website. You can also purchase other POS hardware like tablet stands, cash registers, and complete hardware kits.

Payment Processing

Shopify payment processing rates range from 2.4% to 2.7% for in-person transactions, depending on your plan. Online transactions range from 2.4% + $0.30 to 2.9% + $0.30, depending on your plan. You can use an outside payment processor with Shopify POS, but you’ll pay an extra transaction fee to do so.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Shopify plans are month-to-month with no contract, but you can receive a discount by committing to a one- or two-year plan. It’s worth noting that Shopify Payments is a third-party payment processor like Square, which means you will not have a traditional merchant account.

Where Shopify POS Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

Shopify POS is a flexible, scalable retail system that lies at the intersection of eCommerce and iPad POS. Shopify offers a fully integrated gift card program, and there is no additional fee to add gift cards to your account. You can purchase plastic gift cards from the Shopify Hardware store, issue digital gift cards that are emailed to the customer, or even print a paper gift card from your receipt printer.

Shopify’s gift cards can be purchased and redeemed either at your POS or in your Shopify eCommerce store. Both physical and digital Shopify gift cards use QR codes, and the digital cards can be added to your customer’s Apple Wallet for easy redemption at your POS. Additionally, customers can redeem Shopify gift cards on your other online channels that use the Shopify checkout, such as Facebook, Pinterest, or using a “Buy” button on your WordPress or Squarespace website. You can also issue a free gift card with a set value to an existing customer as a reward, refund, or promotional incentive.

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9. QuickBooks POS: Best for QuickBooks Desktop Users

QuickBooks POS Desktop



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quickbooks pos hardware setup with windows tablet

Pros

  • POS system integrates directly with QuickBooks Desktop
  • Can issue refunds on gift cards as store credit
  • Automatic gift card tracking

Cons

  • Physical gift cards only
  • Additional monthly cost to accept gift cards

QuickBooks POS Features

QuickBooks POS offers the following features:

  • Locally installed POS system—only needs WiFi for payment processing
  • Automatic data syncing with your QB accounting software
  • Traditional plastic gift cards sold & redeemed at POS
  • Gift cards can be used at any of your store locations
  • Check gift card balance at POS and automatically print card balances on receipts
  • Other POS features include layaway, purchase orders, employee management, customer tracking, & loyalty

Quickbooks POS Pricing

The base price for QuickBooks POS is $960 (one-time payment) but to add gift cards, you’ll need at least the $1,360 “POS Pro” package. Multilocation establishments will pay a one-time fee of $1,520. After that, you’ll pay a recurring $14.95/month to add gift card functionality. After the first 100 gift card transactions per month, you’ll pay an additional $0.20/transaction.

Hardware Cost

QuickBooks POS runs on Windows PCs and Windows tablets. You can buy hardware bundles from the QuickBooks POS website for $900 (doesn’t include tablet).

Payment Processing

You’ll need a QuickBooks Payments account to use the gift cards feature. Current rates for QuickBooks POS users are 2.7% for in-person transactions with a pay-as-you-go plan.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

QuickBooks POS is a one-time download, but you may be curious about the QuickBooks Payments merchant account contracts. It appears that these accounts are month-to-month/pay-as-you-go, but make sure you read the fine print. Also note that QuickBooks Desktop Point of Sale works only with QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise versions, and is not compatible with QuickBooks Online.

Where QuickBooks POS Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

QuickBooks POS is a locally-installed POS system for Windows PCs and tablets. As you might surmise, the system’s main draw is that it syncs your sales data with QuickBooks Desktop. QuickBooks POS also has a built-in gift card service, managed by Givex. This gift card service is ideal for businesses that use QuickBooks for accounting and want a POS that fully integrates with their accounting software (and are also OK with plastic gift cards only—QB POS does have an eCom integration option, but does not offer eGift cards).

QuickBooks POS gift card sales are separately tracked, as are card balances. Merchants also have the ability to issue refunds on gift cards as store credit and to check gift card balances at the POS without ringing up a sale. QuickBooks POS gift card numbers and balances are printed on receipts, and cards can be redeemed at any store location, not just the issuing store (provided that you have the “POS Multi-Store” plan).

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10. Shift4Shop: Best For Basic Online Store

Shift4Shop



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shift4shop gift certificate example

Pros

  • Easy to use eComm website builder
  • Sell digital gift certificates on your website
  • Cheaper than competitors (e.g., Shopify)

Cons

  • Some issues with in-house payment processor
  • Not for traditional POS gift card sales

Shift4Shop Features

Here are some of the features you’ll receive with this solution:

  • All-in-one website builder & payment processing solution
  • Generous free plan
  • Free SSL certificate, domain name, & hosting
  • Built-in gift certificate module (doesn’t require any third-party app integration)
  • Create free gift certificates as loyalty rewards
  • Sell gift cards at a discount
  • Create group certificates in bulk for promotions
  • Numerous options for customer payment including digital wallets (Apple Pay, PayPal, etc.) and BNPL (Klarna, Affirm)
  • Processor works with high-risk businesses

Shift4Shop Pricing

Shift4Shop plans range from $0 to $229/month, but the free plan is actually the most advanced plan. The only caveat is that the free plan requires you to use Shift4Shop’s in-house processor.

Hardware Cost

N/A

Payment Processing

Published rates for Shift4 Payments on Shift4Shop stores are the industry-standard 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Shift4Shop also offers an interchange-plus pricing option. On paid plans, you also have the option to integrate with 100+ payment gateways.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

There are various customer complaints regarding Shift4Shop’s in-house payment processor, Shift4Payments. These complaints range from poor customer service to difficulty canceling accounts. If you do decide to use Shift4Shop with Shift4 Payments, make sure you read all the fine print in your contract before committing.

Where Shift4Shop Really Shines For Small Business Gift Cards

Shift4Shop (formerly 3dCart) is an affordable, easy-to-use eCommerce website builder for businesses that want an online store to sell digital gift cards and/or other merchandise. Shift4Shop is an all-in-one solution with a generous free plan and built-in payment processing. Shift4Shop has numerous free templates and works great for retailers as well as service-based businesses such as spas that want to sell online gift certificates.

You can list gift certificates right alongside the other products for sale on your website, and upon purchase, the email address specified will be sent a digital code that can be used as a gift card code on your website. The customer can add names in the “To” and “From” fields and include a message of up to 500 characters. Though it’s fairly straightforward to create these basic gift certificates using Shift4Shop, web developers can use the Gift Certificates API (REST) to create apps that expand on Shift4Shop’s gift certificate features.

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4 Tips To Sell More Gift Cards For Small Business

Your POS gift card system will work best when combined with your business’s other marketing and sales efforts. Here are a few tips to sell more gift cards. 

  • Advertise Your Gift Cards: Make sure your customers know you offer gift cards and how to buy them. You can advertise your gift cards in social media posts, email marketing, in-store signage, and more.
  • Combine With Promotions: Some promotional ideas involving gift cards include selling gift cards at a discount ahead of the holidays, or offering free gift cards as a loyalty benefit for your top-spending customers.
  • Offer Multiple Gift Card Options: Some customers prefer digital gift cards, while others prefer physical. To maximize your gift card sales, offer both options. Customers should also ideally have multiple gift card redemption options (in-store, online, social media, etc.).
  • Optimize Your Website: Your business website should be a channel where customers can both purchase and redeem gift cards. Make sure it’s easy to buy your gift cards online and offer a good array of products customers can purchase there.

Essentially, the more you promote your gift cards and the easier you make it for customers to purchase and redeem them, the more gift cards your small business will sell.

FAQs: Gift Cards For Small Business

Are gift cards good for small businesses?

Gift cards can be a great asset for small businesses. They provide a way to entice new customers or encourage loyalty from regulars. Selling gift cards can boost cash flow in an emergency, as seen during the COVID pandemic.

How do businesses make money on gift cards?

Businesses make money on gift cards in two ways. One, gift cards can encourage customers who otherwise wouldn’t shop at the business to spend money. Two, customers paying with small business gift cards tend to spend more than the card’s monetary value — meaning businesses make bigger sales.

Are gift cards reloadable?

Some small business gift cards are designed to be reloadable. However, not all cards support this feature. Depending on the business, offering reloadable gift cards may be an effective way to encourage brand loyalty.

How does a gift card get activated?

Gift cards are activated at the time of purchase. Buyers specify the amount to be loaded on the card. Businesses complete the activation process through a POS system or credit card terminal. Until the merchant activates the card, it has no value.

How can I get gift cards for my small business?

Small businesses can get gift cards through several channels: payment processors and POS software providers typically offer gift card programs for their clients. A business can also turn to third-party gift card manufacturers.

In Summary: 10 Best POS Digital Gift Card Systems For Small Business

  1. Revel POS Systems: Best for customizability.
  2. Clover POS: Best for QSR POS.
  3. Square: Best free.
  4. Lightspeed Retail POS: Best for retailers.
  5. TouchBistro: Best for affordable restaurant POS.
  6. Toast POS: Best for advanced restaurant POS.
  7. Stripe Payments: Best for professionally developed eCommerce websites.
  8. Shopify POS: Best for multichannel sellers.
  9. QuickBooks POS Desktop: Best for QuickBooks Desktop users.
  10. Shift4Shop: Best for basic online store.
Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
The former editor-in-chief of SteelOrbis, Shannon has been researching and writing about small business software and financing since 2015. Her shopping and retail expertise has been cited in numerous publications, including Reader's Digest, MSN, Yahoo Finance, and GOBankingRates . She has also published articles for LIVESTRONG.COM, eHow, Life'd, and other websites. Shannon attended San Diego State University, graduating in 2005 with a BA in English.
Shannon Vissers
View Shannon Vissers's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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