Dear Gráinne, I’m going to a wedding soon and am conscious that couples these days prefer cash as a gift. I feel that’s a bit too cold though and am thinking of getting a voucher. I’ve heard some voucher cards have fees and charges attached to them. Also, how much is the going rate for wedding gifts these days? It is the daughter of a close family friend. Can you give me some options? — M Coughlan, Tralee, Co Kerry.
There is no doubt cash is a popular gift with couples nowadays. With so many living together before the wedding ceremony, they are likely to already have many of the traditional gifts. I asked Jillian Bolger, editor of Irish Brides, about giving cash as a wedding present.
“It’s very well received, cash is so versatile and the couple can use it for whatever they want. People have so much of their own stuff, but may be saving for a house deposit or something like that so can use the present towards it.”
But that’s not to say a gift card or voucher won’t be appreciated.
“When you get a voucher you have to use it to buy something and then the couple will always have the memory of that item coming from the gift-giver, ‘that’s the bed linen or the beautiful rug we got with the card from such-and-such’.
“Ideally don’t go for somewhere very obscure, but a gift card from a well-known shop or the One4All card is a great present.”
When it comes to fees and charges, you will have to check those when buying. A gift card from a smaller, independent retailer may have a one-year expiry.
Áine Carroll, director of communications at the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) suggested: “Check if there is an expiry date on the voucher. If the expiry date is not clear, ask the retailer if there is one. Ask the retailer if there are any charges attached to the voucher.
“If you buy a voucher for a chain of shops, or a voucher that can be used in multiple outlets, it can be used in more places than just a particular outlet.”
Generally more well-known cards don’t expire for an extended period, but monthly charges may kick in if it is not used within a certain time.
The One4All gift card is hugely popular as a gift, as it can be used in thousands of outlets nationwide and online. A monthly inactive balance charge of €1.45 is charged after the card has been in issue for 12 months. So no charges for the first year but €1.45 per month thereafter. Unusually for gift cards there is a charge applied for issuing the card, a fee of €2.
Two of the main suppliers of gift cards are multicentre.eu and perfectcentre.ie, who, between them, operate many of the gift cards available at shopping centres around the country.
Neither charge to issue a card but both start charging a monthly fee of €3 from the 13th month onwards.
“Make sure to pass on as much information as you can to the person you bought the voucher for, in particular the terms and conditions. Let them know when the voucher expires and encourage them to use it as soon as possible.”
As to the amount, Ms Bolger said it was a frequently asked question.
“Everyone is supposed to know, but there’s no rulebook.
“Generally, I’d suggest you don’t want your presence on the day to cost the couple money. For a standard Irish wedding, most couples will be spending €50-€75 per head on their guests. So, once you can afford it, give a gift of at least that amount.”
If the couple is having a very high-end wedding, they may be spending more on the meal and entertainment. And of course if you can afford it and are close to the couple or their family, you may choose to give more. But don’t feel under any pressure.
“No one would object to any present and most Irish weddings will have one or two guests who show up and don’t give any gift at all! If it’s not a stretch for you, cover the cost for the couple, but beyond that don’t worry unduly about the gift.”
Deal of the week
KBC Bank confirmed this week that it intends to remain in Ireland, growing its market share using a ‘Digital First’ customer-centric strategy. It has introduced several innovations that make it an attractive current account provider in the digital age.
In 2016 it became the first retail bank to make it possible for customers to open a current account from a mobile. Customers can download the app and register their details and then provide the bank with the necessary ID and proofs of address using the camera on your phone. It is also one of the first banks to make Android Pay available, allowing customers to pay online or at a check-out by simply tapping their phone to a terminal.
In addition, their current account fees and charges are competitive. If you lodge €2,500 every month you can avail of fee-free banking. This compares well with other banks, who require you to maintain a certain balance in the account. If you don’t lodge enough for that, a quarterly fee of €6 applies but KBC offers free debit card purchases and cashback.
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