The digital age favors the last-minute holiday shopper. Be it getting Mom and Dad that new movie streaming account or setting up your children with the latest iPhone app they have been coveting, great gifts can be sent without leaving your house or making recipients wait for delivery. Nerds on Call has put together a digital gift guide for all of those last minute shoppers that need to give a great gift. With so many cheap and quick gift options available online today, how can you be sure you are getting your loved ones something that they will really use and enjoy?
To make sure your gift gets the most possible use, start with finding out what types of digital services they already use. Are they a music lover that always has Pandora Radio on in the background? Do they shop frequently on Amazon or use Hulu to catch up on their favorite TV shows? If they are already using a free service, consider springing for the premium version which will usually add additional features and eliminate the wait time caused by advertisements. Premium services for Pandora, Hulu, and Amazon cost between $5 and $10 monthly, which is a small price to pay to make a service that somebody loves even more convenient. The reason that these services make our digital gift guide is thanks to how easy they are to gift, and how often they will be used.
Our digital gift guide is focused heavily on media, because everybody these days uses one service or another to get all of their favorite media in one place. A few examples of music streaming services that offer gift-able upgrades are Pandora, Spotify, or Apple Radio, which cost between $7 and $10 each month. Paying for premium use eliminates ads during your listening and often unlocks additional features or content. One of our favorite services is Amazon Prime. If you know somebody who is always ordering small things off of Amazon, Prime is great because it includes free two-day shipping on any order, and includes music, movie, and TV show streaming through Prime streaming service. Prime also gets you unlimited cloud photo storage and access to free books through Kindle First and the Kindle lending library. At a cost of $99 for a year, Amazon Prime pays for itself in no time after just a few orders with free shipping. YouTube Red is another service that is quite useful for the digital media lover. For a monthly price between $9 and $12, YouTube Red offers ad-free videos and includes Google on-demand music streaming through Google Play Music. Last year, a study published on Adweek showed that young adults ages 14-24 use YouTube more than any other social media platform including Facebook.
The one thing that may worry people about this gift guide is the recurring cost of these gifts. If you sign up a friend or family member for one the services mentioned above, your credit card will be on file for that account, meaning that if it is not cancelled at an agreed-upon time, your card could be charged in the future. Most of these services; however, offer the ability to pay for a couple of months of membership as a gift option. Some credit cards also offer single use numbers, which are unique so that your card will not be charged again. Another option is to pick up a Visa or MasterCard gift card and use that to purchase the subscription. Once the funds that are pre-loaded onto the gift card are depleted, the card expires and the account cannot be renewed with that card.
For the book reader or regular traveler in our lives, Audible.com offers a great service. For a gift of $15, users will be able to download and listen to one audio book per month, while also receiving 30% off the purchase of additional audio books. The reason this makes our digital gift guide is because buying one audio book by itself is much more than $15, and Audible allows you to download the book onto your device and listen while you are offline. This service is great for car trips, plane rides, or getting to enjoy a book while you are working around the house.
We all know that one family member or friend that is always obsessed with what celebrities are doing with their lives, which is why Texture by Next Issue is a great gift idea on our digital gift guide. For $15 per month, the recipient of this gift can access over 150 magazines including Consumer Reports, GQ, Parents, and dozens more. All of these magazines and tabloids are available to be viewed on any mobile device. Instead of getting a regular magazine subscription and having old issues pile up in a box, Texture offers seemingly endless entertainment options in the palm of your hand.
If, after hearing all of the suggestions on our digital gift guide, you still find yourself wanting to wrap up a present for your loved one, consider printing out a preview of whatever digital gift you have purchased them and wrapping it in a photo frame. By scheduling the service to begin or delivery to come the day after you give the wrapped gift, it is almost like they receive two gifts, one physical and one digital. Be sure to keep up with the Nerds on Call blog for more holiday shopping tips like the digital gift guide!
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.
Stephanie: It’s the holiday season, and that means it’s time for some shopping. How about some digital gifts? So, we’re with our tech expert Ryan Eldridge from Nerds on Call. Talk about digital gift giving.
Ryan: Well, this is kind of cool because you don’t have to brave the stores and a lot of us are consuming so much media and content online these days, and we’re just putting up with the free service versions of them. So Mom and Dad, or something you can get them last minute, or some of the kids, some of the stuff that they’re using online, you can get them a better version of what they’re already using.
First, if you’re going to start, first start with what people are already using. So, if they’re using HULU or NetFlix, or something like that, consider gifting them a subscription to one of those. Or, if they listen to a lot of music, there’s a couple of different things out there now. Pandora is a great one. It starts anywhere from $7 $10 a month, so you can go Pandora, or you can do Spotify, or Apple Music and give them unlimited ad-free content. Plus, it also unlocks some extra content that you wouldn’t normally get on the free service.
Here’s something that’s kind of cool if they do some online shopping at Amazon, consider giving them an Amazon Prime Membership. It’s only 99 bucks per year. You get two days shipping for free, plus you get to unlock some of their cool streaming content, so you can do TV shows, music, as well as movies, and you can also get access to things like Kindle First and their Kindle lending library, so they can get free books throughout the rest of the year.
Here’s another good one. YouTube just announced this a few weeks ago. This is called the YouTubeRed. It runs anywhere from $9 to $12 a month, and this gives them an ad-free experience on YouTube so you don’t have to deal with those little pre-roll ads that are constantly coming up. And the interesting thing about YouTube is for young adults and children ages 14 to 24, they use YouTube more than any other social media platform, more than Instagram, and more than Facebook. So if you’ve got a younger person in your house, you can give them something like this.
Stephanie: That’s a good little stat, I didn’t know YouTube was even more popular with the tweeners than Insta.
Ryan: Yeah, one of the problems with this kind of gift giving, though, is there are often recurring charges for monthly, so what you can do to avoid that is go online and find a Visa gift card that you can get for one-time use, so that way you can only give them as much as you want, rather than having to pay for a year, or two years, or five years of service, in case you forget. You can also call your credit card company and see if they can give you a one-time use credit card number, so that way you can just give them only a month or two at a time.
Stephanie: If you have millennials on your gift list, this is really the way to go.
Ryan: Yeah, because one they, they’re going to consume all the stuff online, and talking about millennials, they’re using things like the iTunes gift store, or the iTunes store, or the Google Play store, and you can just get a gift card for one of those places and let them buy whatever they want. It’s like allowing them to go to a store with a Target gift card and buy whatever they want rather than having to deal with what you choose.
Stephanie: And they don’t even have to go to the mall.
Ryan: Here’s some unexpected ones. Audible.com is a great place for audio books. I do a lot of traveling and so I listen to a lot of books, and for 15 bucks a month, they can choose from a vast library of books. And most audio books will cost more than $15 anyway. Plus, this will also give them 30% off other books in the store. You can also go to iTunes, obviously, you can give them a gift card like we were talking about earlier. Give them a gift card so they can buy games, or books, or movies, or TV shows, or whatever they want. And then lastly, check out Texture, Texture by Next Issue. This will give them access to up to 150 magazines like GQ, Parents, and Consumer Report, and they get them right into their digital device like their tablet or their phone.
Stephanie: That is so great. It’s even better than giving a gift subscription.
Ryan: Yeah, it’s way better than even having to go to a store and having to fight all the crowds for that great gift. You can just get it all online and you can go watch some TV.
Stephanie: Ryan Eldridge from Nerds on Call, thank you so much for this digital gift guide.
Ryan: You’re welcome.