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February 1, 2013

Facebook Debuts Reusable Gift Cards

Facebook is expanding its Gifts section with reusable gift cards to allow users to surprise friends with a free meal at Olive Garden or beauty products from Sephora.

The social network launched the Facebook card Jan. 31 — “a new type of gift card” that can be loaded with money for select stores or restaurants. The program is being rolled out gradually to users in the U.S.

Here is how the system works: Select a gift for your friends in the ‘gift cards and digital’ category on the site and then choose a value. Participating retailers are Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora and Target.

Your friend will be notified instantly about your gift, and will receive a Facebook Card in the mail within a few days. Once it arrives, your friend can use the card at the retailer you’ve chosen for the amount you’ve gifted.

Even after the recipient uses the Facebook card, they should hold on to it in case they receive future gifts through the site.

“After you’ve received a card, the next time you get a Facebook Card gift, it will instantly be added to your existing card,” reads a press release.

“Your card can hold multiple gift balances, and each balance is dedicated to the retailer associated with the gift. For example, you might have gift balances of $100 at Sephora, $75 at Target, $50 at Olive Garden and $8.25 at Jamba Juice.”


Choosing a gift

Gift balances can be tracked in the recipient’s account settings on Facebook from his or her phone or desktop. Facebook will also let recipients know when balances change by sending a real-time notification to his or her phone.

The reusable gift card is yet another addition to Facebook’s Gifts platform which was rolled out to all U.S. users last month.

Facebook has described Gifts as a way to choose, purchase and ship real gifts in a matter of minutes right on the site. A message can be sent either to the recipient’s Timeline or as a private message. The recipient receives a notification within seconds of the purchase, along with the card and preview of the gift.

The recipient responds with the address where they want the gift delivered. It ships within a few days. They may also select the color, size and flavor of the present when fitting. There is also the option to exchange it for an item of lesser or equal value.

Facebook has partnered with iTunes, Hulu Plus, Pandora and Rdio for music lovers. Some of the other retail partners are BabyGap, Fab, Brookstone, Dean & Deluca, L’Occitane, Lindt, ProFlowers, Random House, Inc. and NARS Cosmetics. It also offers a selection of choices from 16 wineries. So far, these retailers are not involved in the reusable card program.

For those wishing to give the gift of giving, donations can be made in the name of the recipient to the following non-profit organizations: The American Red Cross, Blue Star Families, Boys & Girls Clubs of America,, Girls Inc., Kiva, LIVESTRONG, Oxfam America, RAINN, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and