For many people, a gift card is the go-to if they’re shopping for someone they don’t know well or simply ran out of time. But not everyone loves gift cards, because of their accompanying fees and their lack of choice.
If you’re going to give cash, here are some ways to give it freely so the recipient can do whatever they want with it (with one important exception for kids).
1. Write a check
Still have a checkbook? Writing a check can be a classic and classy way to gift cash, especially if you know your recipient has a bank that allows mobile check deposits through an app. You can nestle it into a card and fill out the memo line for a personal touch.
2. Send via app
People love money no matter what form it takes, even if it’s through an alert on their phone. It may not be the most well-wrapped gift but it will certainly be well received. Personalize the transaction with some fun emojis in the notes line. Not sure which app is best? Check out our roundup of the best apps for sending money.
3. Make it rain cash
In this time of cashless payments it may seem passe, but people still love cash. Giving a nice stack of bills — or even one crisp note — can be a festive way to say happy holidays. We don’t recommend actually throwing cash in the air, but put it in a card and let the recipient do what they want with it.
4. Make a 529 plan deposit
A great monetary gift for babies and children is a deposit into their 529 college savings account. How you’ll make the payment depends on the type of plan and who set it up, but a great place to start is to ask the child’s parents for their 529 account number. Write a note to let the recipient know about the gesture, and maybe some school swag from your own alma mater to get them excited.
Image: Vitaly Taranov