Recently a local chain restaurant closed, and friends at dinner expressed disappointment that they would now have to drive to the next town over to use their gift cards. Those gift cards had lost value. If the whole chain went out of business, I guess their gift cards would become worthless. If there were similar cards for milk, or McDonald’s hamburgers, or cups of Starbucks, people could trade them.
If there were a Chicago Gift Card Exchange, people could sell theirs and buy others that were still locally available. But if there were a CGCE, transaction costs would be prohibitively high for just one card. Sharpers from the city would come around every few weeks buying up cards at steep discounts.
It would be interesting if you could buy a card from Shell or BP that was good for fifty gallons of gas, instead of fifty dollars worth. I suppose they don’t exist (at the consumer level, as far as I know) because nobody would buy them at the price the seller would need to charge to make a profit.
If these existed, and you’d had a few fifty-gallon gas cards six months ago, you might have thought yourself a clever fellow, not like those saps with their money in US dollars. Who knows? Maybe now is a buying opportunity.
If you hired illegal aliens you could pay them with these, although I guess you could pay them with Walmart gift cards denominated in plain old dollars just as well. It seems like that wouldn’t give anybody any advantage over just paying cash though.