Spotlight: 3V Visa internet shopping gift card

The problem with getting someone vouchers or book tokens for Christmas is that you often limit how the recipient can spend the gift. The new 3V Visa Internet Shopping Gift Card is much more versatile; it can be used on any website that accepts Visa, and that's pretty much all of them.

For the moment, the cards come only in denominations of £25; 3V says research shows this to be the average people want to give. Unlike most pre-paid cards, 3V's offering carries no charges; a £25 card costs £25. However, if you end up with more than one and want to put all the funds on the same card, there's a £1.75 fee. And there's a £3.50 hit if you want to transfer all the money on the card into your bank. For now, cards are available only from Martin McColl newsagents, Borders and Books Etc. Other stores are likely to follow in the new year.

Sadly, they don't come with insurance, and are no safer than sending cash in that respect. But they're certainly more hip than a couple of old readies.