Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
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How to buy a subscription service for someone when there’s no prepaid card

Getting someone a service can be a great gift, but when there’s no prepaid card, it makes the whole effort more difficult. What are your options if you’re stuck in this situation?

Giving the gift of an entertainment service can be a great idea, and there are typically prepaid subscription cards to help with that. Netflix has them, Spotify has them, and a whole bunch of other entertainment and gaming services offer them, as well, many of which are available in shopping and department stores. That’s great.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, with more services found out and about that don’t have those cards. Frustratingly, if you find a subscription you want to give to someone, like say music lessons or yoga instructional videos, you may find giving it as a gift isn’t as easy as buying the prepaid card.

Fender Play offers gift cards in the US, but not so much in Australia, and they’re not the only ones. Many services lack a prepaid gift card in Australia including Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, and that can make buying a service as a gift just that little bit more complicated.

If you’re buying for a family member you live with, you can typically mitigate this by just charging the service to your card and taking care of the account, but it’s a little more difficult if you don’t live with them.

So what can you do if you want to buy a subscription service for a friend, but there’s no obvious gift card for that service to buy?

Check the service site and see if they offer a gift option

First things first, check the website for the service being offered. If they’ve considered their service as as gift, they may already have worked out a way of creating gift codes that you can buy and they can email out.

That could be something as simple as paying for a few months or even paying for a dollar amount for an account, and then emailing the code to you, so you can print out or email to that friend. Easy.

Manage the account yourself

If a service hasn’t thought about gifting their product (which is a little crazy, but it happens), you may want to consider managing the account yourself, an approach that’s a little cumbersome but does work.

Essentially, you’ll be gifting a service that you’re going to be actively paying for, but providing the login details to your friend as the gift.

To do this, either sign up with your email or a disposable, of which you can find many versions of simply by punching “disposable email” into Google. Alternatively, if you use a Gmail account, consider using an extra dot or two in your email address, because extra dots in your name will still send to your account, and you may be able to set up a filter for that specific combination to help label it accordingly.

Once you have whatever email address you plan to subscribe with, pay for the service, and then use those login details as your gift.

There are both upsides and downsides to this approach, with the upsides being you can manage the account and keep it going while laso preventing your friend from seeing the marketing material the service will no doubt send. Meanwhile, the downside is that you’ll still keep paying for it until you don’t, and you may need to nudge your friend at one point and say “hey, just letting you know, I’m cutting off the access because it’s getting too costly”.

Buy a prepaid Visa card

Alternatively, you can take a much easier approach and buy a prepaid Visa or Mastercard card, load it up with how much money you expect the year’s worth of the service to cost (with maybe a little room to move, given taxes and such), and gift them that instead.

This is obviously the easiest approach of all when it comes to buying service subscriptions for friends, but it does come with the possibility that they won’t spend the card on the service you intended.

Prepaid money cards can be used for anything, provided the payment platform is accepted somewhere, so while you might give $100 for a service as a good intention, it’s entirely possible that the person you give it to will use it for something else.

Just keep that in mind when you hand write a little card to go with the gift card.

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