NThis digital age is giving room for the large adoption of a digital asset like gift cards to be used as an alternative payment method to cash at both online and physical stores. But more often than not, these cards exist in different forms, which can sometimes be confusing on how to use them, especially for beginner users. Hence, the reason to know the difference between physical gift cards, gift vouchers, and ecodes.

An Overview Of A Gift Card

Difference between physical gift cards, gift vouchers and ecodes.

A gift card is a prepaid card of stored value that can be used to access products or services across stores that support them. It is the real-time value that these gift cards hold that makes them better than regular gifts. This is because the cards give you the purchasing power to afford what you desire at stores.

Over the years, gift cards have transcended the traditional use of redeeming them at designated stores, as you can also cash out on them. As such, gift card trading is one of the best ways to make money online at this time – giving convenience and flexibility to its holders/users.

Gift cards exist in three major forms – physical, gift vouchers, and ecodes, which we will discuss to know what makes them unique.

Physical Gift Cards

Difference between physical gift cards, gift vouchers and ecodes.

A physical gift card is a plastic card that you can purchase directly from physical stores. They look like your credit/debit cards issued by your traditional banks. You can use these physical gift cards from their respective stores to access your preferred products and services.

You can find physical cards in Amazon gift cards, Apple gift cards, Sephora gift cards, Google Play gift cards, Steam gift cards, Vanilla gift cards, etc.

These cards are easy to use as you can redeem them online and in-store. But they can be subject to loss or damage if you don’t keep them safe. You must be careful when holding them to prevent losing the card value.


These are digital forms of gift cards, sometimes called e-gift cards, which are basically codes that you receive in your email after purchasing them. The ecodes work like physical gift cards, but the only difference is that you can not hold them as you will with physical cards.

Popular cards have ecodes, including Steam gift cards, Amazon gift cards, Google Play gift cards, PlayStation gift cards, Sephora gift cards, Apple gift cards, etc. You can redeem your ecodes at the stores that support them, just as you will use your physical gift cards. But this form of gift card is widely used at online stores.

It is safer to have an ecode than a physical gift card because it can not be liable to damage, albeit you can lose it if there is unauthorized access to your email in the form of phishing.

Gift Vouchers

Difference between physical gift cards, gift vouchers and ecodes.

Gift vouchers, or gift certificates, are gift cards between physical cards and ecodes. How? They are similar to ecodes because you get them as codes and can have them in a printed form to hold like a receipt in a likely manner as a physical gift card.

This type of card is often given as a gift to an employee or a loved one to shop at stores that support it. In most instances, businesses also use gift vouchers as a marketing strategy to give their brand more publicity while using the voucher gift to attract customers.

Physical Gift Cards vs Ecodes vs Gift Vouchers: Which Is Better?

Let’s look at some factors to consider which is better between these forms of gift card.

1. Shopping Preference

Shopping preference varies among users. While some people may like to walk into physical stores to purchase products, other customers love online shopping. Therefore, your shopping preference will determine the best form of gift card for you.

A physical gift card and voucher will be ideal for a walk-in customer into physical stores as you can easily redeem the card at the cashier’s point. On the other hand, ecodes will be best for online shoppers who prefer to surf across online stores to make their purchases.

2. Age

It is common knowledge that most young people are inclined to do almost every activity online, including shopping. Therefore, an ecode will be good for young people as they can redeem the code and get whatever they need at the quickest possible time. 

Meanwhile, older people already used to walking to stores to purchase their products will prefer a physical card or voucher gift to a digital card. This is because of little or no knowledge of using ecodes at online stores.

3. Location

Popular retail stores like Amazon and Sephora are not widely available in continents like Africa. As such, holding a physical Amazon gift card and Sephora gift card in African countries will be difficult to use. But as these cards are also available in ecodes, you can easily use them online at Sephora or Amazon stores to purchase products.

Therefore, your location determines the ideal form of gift card you can use to get the best value. However, you can sell Amazon gift cards and sell Sephora gift cards if you hold the physical cards and can not use them because of your location. This is better than leaving the card to waste.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Different Forms Of Gift Cards

Which Is Better Between Physical Gift Cards, Gift Vouchers, And Ecodes?

The best gift card for you depends on location, shopping preference, and age. This means that these forms of gift cards have their uniqueness and the value you need. 

Are Ecodes Safer Than Physical Gift Cards?

Ecodes are safer than physical gift cards because you receive them in your email, which can not be easily accessed, unlike physical cards. But this does not mean you can not lose your ecode to a phishing scam. Therefore, you must keep either your ecodes or physical gift cards safe.

Can I Sell Ecodes And Gift Vouchers?

You can sell your ecodes at gift card trading platforms, similar to your physical cards. But selling gift vouchers is not as popular as selling the other two cards, although you can sell the vouchers mostly using peer-to-peer (P2P) methods.


Gift cards give you the convenience and flexibility to shop across stores – both online stores and in-store. The growing demand for cards to serve as another viable alternative to carrying cash has enabled them to exist in various forms, which are physical, gift vouchers, and ecodes.

However, it is important to know the difference between these three forms of cards to guide you on which is the best for you to avoid loss or waste.