Introduction: Universal Gift Card

Picture of Universal Gift Card

Gift card sales are once again on the rise.  I don't know about you, but it drives me crazy that when I trade my cash for a plastic card or certificate, it often expires, adds service fees, and slowly devalues itself over time if not used.  The receiving party can easily lose out if they don't promptly use it.  The unnecessary service fees and expiration dates have gotten so out of control that many states are now rushing to put laws in place to prevent companies from taking advantage of consumers.

So here we arrive at my idea of a "Universal Gift Card".  Simply put, this is a fun little gag gift taking a stab back at those companies that take advantage of us (and not ALL gift cards fall into this category, but most of the ones that I've received do).

This simple idea includes a printable template to give the ultimate gift card that never expires, has no maintenance fees or service charges, and everyone loves - CASH!

Step 1: Gather the Materials

Picture of Gather the Materials
The following materials are needed for this project:
  • 8.5 x 11 white paper.  I recommend a 110 lb card stock such as the one found here on If you don't have card stock, plain paper will work but the end result will be flimsy and not really feel as much like a gift card as the card stock will.
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Sharp utility or hobby knife (optional, but recommended)

Step 2: Print the Template

Picture of Print the Template

Print the attached PDF template on a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. 

This template includes a gift-card sized envelop to hold your cash and an optional gift card to include a personal message if desired.

I purposely made this template generic so it could be used for any occasion. 

By request, I have also included a blank template so that you can design your own card if desired.

Step 3: Cut Out

Picture of Cut Out

Using a pair of small scissors, cut out the envelope and (if desired) note card.

Step 4: Score & Fold

Picture of Score & Fold

I highly recommend that you score each of the dotted lines VERY LIGHTLY with a sharp hobby knife.  This makes the folding much cleaner. Use an old scrap piece of wood under your paper and do this only under adult supervision!

Fold each flap of the envelope tightly.  Do the same with the note card, folding it in half.

Step 5: Glue the Envelope

Picture of Glue the Envelope

Apply glue to the white rectangle areas of the envelope as shown in the photo below.  Fold envelope closed and put a book on it while allowing the glue to dry.

Step 6: Add the Gift!

Picture of Add the Gift!

Write a personal note inside the card and add your cash!

As an added touch, use Google to find a fun way to fold your money before adding it. One of my personal favorites is the money t-shirt fold!

Step 7: Done!

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Glue the back flap closed and you're done!

You now have a great TRUE universal gift card to give!

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populuxe (author)2015-12-20

I've subscribed to instructables just for this, used it 3 years now. I hate converting the most universal money the world has ever known into plastic cards only good at certain places.

xinistrom (author)2011-08-24

what if they cant unfold it properly? 0.o

wa0zog (author)2011-06-12

Oh, doggone it, I stand corrected. I was wrong in the first place. It was misspelled on step 5. Envelope was (and still is, as of today) spelled on the page title and in the instructional text as "envelop.". That's what I was referring to. I had the wrong step number in the beginning. Good catch, apdog4!

siliconghost (author)wa0zog2011-06-12

wa0zog, I did originally have envelope spelled incorrectly. I fixed it a long time ago and removed the comment to avoid confusing people because it's now OK. I just updated step 5 as well. Thanks for the feedback!

wa0zog (author)2011-01-12

Excellent idea! I'll have to make a few of these as well. They're a perfect alternative to those pesky gift cards.

BTW, did you notice that you misspelled 'envelope' on step 4? I'm surprised nobody else has pointed it out yet.

Thanks for the wonderful 'ible!

Toastytoes (author)2011-01-09

Actually, there was a law passed about a year ago which stated that gift cards cannot legally expire.

siliconghost (author)Toastytoes2011-01-09

Toastytoes, that may be true in your state, but not in most states. There isn't a no-expiration law imposed at the federal level for all states.

Toastytoes (author)siliconghost2011-01-10

Oops! Didn't realise we were talking about the USA. I live in Canada, and it's federal here.

siliconghost (author)Toastytoes2011-01-11

Whoops. Sorry I didn't specify. I'm not sure what the laws are outside the US. Sounds like Canada has done it right though!

Pe-ads (author)2011-01-11

"[a gift card] slowly devalues itself over time if not used"

Money does that too! :-P

siliconghost (author)Pe-ads2011-01-11

Lol, I've been waiting for someone to point that out! At least cash retains face-value.

Tunkis (author)2011-01-08

Hey great idea! Can you post the template with nothing written on it? I would love to use them just as envelope:) thanks

siliconghost (author)Tunkis2011-01-10

Ask and you shall receive! Done!

Tunkis (author)siliconghost2011-01-10


hillysplace (author)2011-01-08

A bone folder works well too! It is just a blunt instrument like a closed pair of scissors or a pen cap...then you don't accidentally cut your beautiful creation :-)

Love your idea by the way!

siliconghost (author)hillysplace2011-01-08

Ahh yes, such as this one.  Thanks for the tip!

Otho Nogo (author)2011-01-06

My favorite peeve or not. It is L o s e not L o o s e. Why can't people get
this right?

Other than that..... a clever fun item.

siliconghost (author)Otho Nogo2011-01-08

Whoops! I agree. Fixed. Amazing how many spelling and grammar errors are caught when you've had 13,000+ people proofread the article! Thank you for pointing that out!

happycabbage (author)Otho Nogo2011-01-07

haha. that was my first thought. and secondly that this IS a cute idea. forgiven.

chabias (author)2011-01-07

Fantastic!!! I can't wait to make a bunch of these. Thanks SO much for the .pdf!!!
Favorited, 5 stars, and voted.

Vengence (author)2011-01-07

California already has had laws in place for years(decades?) that make it illegal to put an expiration date on gift cards or maintenance fees. Other states just need to catch up.
Gift cards are already money in that companies pocket, of which they could be earning interest on, so they have absolutely no right to complain.
California gets some laws right, although it still has a lot wrong...

Mugai (author)2011-01-06


Grand Idea. Covers all the bases and one can even print it on used paper. Excellent. pax.

maxs (author)2011-01-02

Awesome idea!! I hate gift certificates/cards. Although companies can no longer charge maintenance fees for the first 12 months, the value is always locked into the issuing company. Don't like the store they got you the gift card for? You can sell it, for a percentage of the face value. Or you can put it in your drawer and forget about it for years until it eventually does expire. A high percentage of gift cards are actually never used!

Cash, on the other hand is almost always used and usually for exactly what the person wants! But for some reason, people think it's cheep and rude to give someone cash as a gift. This just might help people get over their fear of giving someone "The Universal Gift Card."

gtrachel (author)maxs2011-01-06

Yeah - I gave my dad a $90 gift certificate to a massage spa, and by the time he tried to use it, they'd gone out of business. Wish I had THAT money back.

ralphab (author)2011-01-06

Another idea for dotted lines is to use a sewing machine without thread in it.
Make sure to guide it straight (though you can do neat curves that pop out) and use a large stitch length so it isn't too weak a fold line. I do this for all kinds of projects for kids, following a picture for example to "pop out."

CanuckAmok (author)2011-01-06

I love it! Great design. Would you be able to upload a version with the spelling of "maintenance" corrected? Thanks!

siliconghost (author)CanuckAmok2011-01-06

Doh! Nice catch! You're the first one to notice that! Thanks for pointing it out. I'll upload a new version in just a couple minutes.

All fixed! A new version has been uploaded. Thank you once again for finding this, and sorry to those that have downloaded the template already but also didn't notice!

bugolf (author)2011-01-02

Oh a gift certificate. You've traded your money for something like money but more restrictive. - Dilbert

peace, love, art (author)2011-01-01

Clever idea, nice job!

alex3324 (author)2010-12-31

Great idea and very creative. However, in the US, most state laws prevent gift card issuers from charging maintenance fees until after the first year, some states allow up to five years before fees can be assessed.

Biggsy (author)2010-12-31

I think this is a GREAT idea, welldone :)

depotdevoid (author)2010-12-31

Awesome idea, I love it!

About This Instructable




Bio: I love combining software, electrical, and mechanical engineering to come up with unique and fun projects. I'm not a chef, but love to cook ... More »
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