Sending global rewards is hard. If you handle international surveys and studies then you have already experienced the pain of delivering rewards to global participants. Sending physical gifts or checks is slow and expensive. And there is always the risk of rewards getting delayed or lost in transit due to address errors.  

Fortunately, the rise of digital payments such as e-Gift Cards, virtual Visa/MasterCard, makes it possible to send rewards globally with speed and reliability.  Digital rewards can be delivered instantly and can be tracked easily.

There are several global digital incentives to choose from and it’s important to understand the strengths and shortcomings of each option.

Global e-Gift Cards

E-Gift cards from retailers like Amazon and Target are a popular choice for rewarding research participants. E-gift cards can be delivered quickly via personalized and branded email. Delivery and claim tracking is easy. And recipients can easily use e-gift cards towards on-line or in-store purchases.  

However, it’s important to note that most gift cards are accepted only in the countries where they were issued. For example, an gift card cannot be used on Amazon’s German website ( This means that for global studies, you must select, promote and send separate e-gift cards for each country your participants live in. You may also discover that the choice e-gift cards available for countries outside North America and Europe are very limited, or in many cases, non-existent.

For these reasons, proper planning is important when using e-gift cards as an incentive for global studies. Make sure you have a clear picture of where the participants live and whether good e-gift card options are available for those countries.


PayPal is a popular money transfer service among consumers. PayPal also offers businesses the ability to send cash payments across borders.

The challenge with using PayPal for research rewards lies in the fact that the recipient needs a PayPal account to receive the payment. Only a small percentage of the world’s population has a PayPal account. A further challenge is PayPal’s limited acceptance by retailers as a direct payment method. This means that many recipients will need to move the money out of their PayPal account into a bank account to be able to spend it.

Lastly, the reward experience – or rather, the lack of one – may not be suitable to your program or your client’s brand. PayPal is designed to be a money transfer service and does not offer branding options. So sending a reward via PayPal can feel like a cold, impersonal payment instead of a warm, appreciative thank you.

Be sure PayPal is acceptable to your client and your participants before sending rewards via this option.

International virtual Visa or MasterCard

International Virtual Visa or MasterCard are quickly becoming the top choice among global researchers and participants due to their flexibility and wide acceptance.

A virtual Visa/MasterCard can be delivered instantly anywhere in the world by email with branding and personalized messages. The recipient can use the Visa/MasterCard immediately for online or over the phone orders.

With virtual Visa/MasterCard, the exact same reward can be used across multiple countries. Rewards can be issued in major currencies like USD, CAD, GBP and EUR and the cards are accepted in over 150 countries with automatic conversion to the local currency. This is a huge benefit for multi-country surveys and studies as it makes it possible to reward global recipients without the hassle.

Although virtual Visa Prepaid Cards provide unprecedented flexibility for global rewards, they do come with expiration dates. Recipients typically have 6 months to redeem their card and 12 months after that to spend the balance on their card.


The availability to digital incentives is great news for global market researchers struggling to find fast and reliable ways to reward participants. Global incentives options do differ in how they work. So be sure to review and assess which incentive option will work best for your program.