Employee Appreciation

Alternatives to Gift Cards for Employees

June 2, 2022
min read

What are some effective gift cards alternatives for employees? Of course, gift cards can make for easy gifts, but the gift-giver may be more enthusiastic about them than the gift receiver.

According to a Bankrate poll, more than half of all adults in the United States have unredeemed gift cards or vouchers. And three-quarters of them have had them for a year or more.

People generally intend to use the gift cards they received, but either the card expires, they lose it, or they have no interest in anything they can buy with the gift card.

It's no secret employees love being rewarded, and corporate gifts are a great way to boost your team’s morale. So if you are looking for some fresh alternatives to gift cards for employees, here are a few great ideas.

9 Great Alternatives to Gift Cards for Employees 

1. Personalized Branded Merchandise

Custom company paraphernalia makes a great gift card alternative and also helps promote your brand. Embroider or print the recipient's name on the item to make it more personal. If you are short of inspiration, here are a few ideas:

  • Hoodies or sweatshirts 
  • Jackets
  • T-shirts
  • Caps and beanies
  • Personalized stationery
  • Coffee mugs

2. Smart Water Bottle 

A water bottle sounds pretty dull, but this is no ordinary water bottle. Some smart water bottles come with storage compartments that safely hold valuables like car keys, credit cards, or cash. 

They’re a perfect option for those who like the outdoors, fitness, beach days, and traveling.

3. Power Bank

A power bank could be a productivity lifeline for hybrid workers or those who spend the best part of the day out of the office. 

Power banks can have a large capacity — some mobile devices can be charged multiple times before the power bank needs recharging. 

Everyone is online, and nobody likes to have a device shut down from a low battery. Quick and easy access to a stable power source is a must. A compact, lightweight power bank will give your battery new life, while simultaneously boosting your employees’ productivity. 

4. Smart Tags

There's sure to be at least one employee who’s always misplacing their keys. Smart tags and apps can come to the rescue by providing tracking on lost keys. The recipient will just have to open the app, and the smart tag will let them know where they are.

5. Blue Light Glasses 

Most employees spend hours staring at screens and straining their eyes. Blue light glasses have special lenses that filter out blue light while allowing other types of light to pass through. 

Blue light makes it difficult to focus on the screen resulting in dry, strained eyes, headaches, and even migraines. Blue light is also known to affect sleep schedules. At the end of a long workday, nobody wants a poor night’s sleep.

The idea is to shield your eyes from high-energy blue wavelengths, lowering the risk of eye damage from extended exposure, making them excellent gift card alternatives for employees. 

Related: 5 Great Alternatives To Virtual Gift Cards That Can Be Used Internationally

6. Mindfulness Apps

Mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular as the demands of our busy lives increase. Subscribing to a mindfulness app as an alternative to gift cards can help your people reduce their stress at work, improving their well-being.

Relieving stress and tension helps the brain focus and boosts will boost your employees' productivity. In turn, happier employees will boost the overall morale of your organization.

7. Hydroponic Self-Watering Planter 

A self-watering planter is a perfect gift card alternative for employees who love to have fresh greenery on their desks but worry that plants are too much work to maintain. These attractive minimalist planters come in various colors and sizes, making them attractive on any desk.

A hydroponic self-watering planter has a soil-free growing medium and a programmable reservoir that keeps plants irrigated and recycles the surplus to keep plant roots moist.

8. Online Magazine Subscription

People nowadays like to do everything on their devices, including reading. And there are plenty of good reasons why. You can transport them in any quantity without becoming overloaded. Paper-printed magazines are often a mess and take up a lot of room in your luggage.

An online magazine subscription is ideal for employees who like to read up on specific topics and follow fashion, celebrity, or world news.

9. PerkUp Rewards

The best employee gift card alternative is a reward sent through PerkUp. Unlike gift cards that are valid for only specific stores or items and tend to go unused, a PerkUp card is one your people can use wherever they please.

Instead of racking your brain for gift card alternatives, investing in an employee reward through is a one-stop shop, and can support your global team. 

Our cards offer a ton of options and will empower your team to choose the reward that is right for them. 

With hundreds of rewards to choose from, recognizing your employees has never been easier.

Additionally, 22% of regular gift cards go unused within the first year and the funds are captured by the vendor. With PerkUp, you keep any unspent funds so you can maximize your budget’s efficiency.


People enjoy being recognized and celebrated for their contributions to their organization. One of the most effective ways to thank your employees is to take a genuine interest in their development at your company.

Recognizing and celebrating employee service boosts employee morale, resulting in an inspired workforce that is motivated to stay with your organization in the long run.

If your company is looking for solutions to drive employee engagement, it’s time to incentivize and reward your employees with benefits they want and need.

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