by Alex Palmer | April 19, 2016
Stocks can now be added to the growing list of things that gift cards can buy, courtesy of Stockpile, a company that provides gift cards which can be redeemed for real stocks in a brokerage account. The cards are available as digital or physical cards directly from Stockpile, and have gone national and will become available at an expanding number of retail chains. 

Stockpile was created to make investing -- which is often seen as complicated or intimidating to stock market newbies -- as easy as buying any other consumer good.

"Most people have never had an opportunity to own stock in their favorite companies because it's too expensive and complicated to get started," said Avi Lele, founder and CEO of Stockpile. "You can't do anything with $25 at a traditional brokerage. Stockpile removes those barriers by using fractional shares and bringing the stock market to you."

The expanding footprint of Stockpile, which is available as a physical gift card or an e-gift card for individual stocks such as Apple, Facebook, and Coca-Cola, as well as for multiple companies, presents incentive planners with a business-oriented gift card. Stockpile could be an ideal reward to encourage personal budgeting and investing or to emphasize an organization's own commitment to helping its workers profit.

"Stockpile is partnering with companies and nonprofits who care about financial literacy and empowerment and want to make stock and ETFs accessible to everyone," said Dan Schatt, chief commercial officer at Stockpile. "Local credit unions to Fortune 500 companies are leveraging Stockpile's platform -- whether it's to offer a brand new set of gifting services, a differentiated loyalty program, or an innovative employee incentives and recognition plan."

The physical gift cards come in denominations of $25, $50, and $100, with a purchase price of $29.95, $56.95, or $107.95, respectively, to cover credit card fees, trading commission, and other costs; the recipient doesn't pay to redeem, but does pay 99 cents per stock trade. The recipient can choose from more than one thousand different stocks, investing portions in different stocks or investing the whole card in one single stock. Once a card is redeemed, the stockholder receives a fractional share of the stock in a real brokerage account. The stockholder can hold on to the stock, buy more, or sell, just like trading a stock the traditional way.