Online Start-Up Lets You Give Presents From Afar Without Those Pesky Gift Cards

We know there are plenty of you out there who also abhor gift cards — either you forget about them in a drawer or don’t realize there are a ton of hidden fees eating away at your credit — but then again, shopping for loved ones who live far away can be so hard sometimes. A new online start-up called Yiftee thinks it has the solution, even if its choice of name is questionable.

The idea behind Yiftee is a simple yet kinda brilliant one: Instead of giving gift cards to big box stores like Best Buy or Target, why not send your friend or loved one a gift from their local favorite shop? That can be tricky if you don’t live near them, which is where Yiftee comes in.

Here’s how it works: You simply find the store on or through its mobile app, pick the gift you want to send — like a sandwich from the corner joint or something similar — and pay for it using your credit card or PayPal. For the first $20 worth of the gift purchased, the buyer pays $1, and it’s a 6% fee after that.

The recipient gets a notification via Facebook, email or text that they’ve got some goodies waiting for them at the store, along with a digital MasterCard credit.

The giftee then must show up to the local spot and present their smartphone so the cashier can charge the digital MasterCard, and voila! Gifting from afar with nary a gift card in sight.

And unlike traditional gift cards, the value of the present won’t leak away with time. If the recipient doesn’t pick up their prize within four weeks, you can choose to either donate the value to a charity or it will revert back to you.

The new company also implemented this same technology during Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, allowing people to donate specific goods and supplies where they were needed, instead of going through charitable organizations where your money can just get swallowed up and go who knows where.

Although you can’t pick a specific day ahead of time to deliver a virtual gift, the ability to actually give someone something they really like from a place that could use the business is a very bright idea. And again, no gift cards. Sweet.

Finally, an online retailer with something for everyone [Fortune]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.