It’s almost Christmas and Skype seems to have come up with the perfect gift for the festive season for those who are away from loved ones. The Microsoft owned Internet calling service has put out gift cards, both virtual and physical, worth $10 up for sale already online and in stores.

In a move to get more people to use the credit service, Skype has expanded its gift card facility to cover 44 countries and are already up on the site to purchase. The physical cards are available with retailers in the US, the UK, and Mexico with more countries to be added to the list soon, according to a source in Skype.

Skype goes 3G

Skype offers gift cards for the holiday season

Piggybacking on the holiday spirit, a few weeks ago, Skype had offered free calling for an entire month, with the condition that it be claimed within a day. This made calling to landlines and mobile phones free instead of having to use up Skype Credits.

To add a festive touch to the gift cards, Skype has made the option to personalise them available on its website. While a $10 gift card may not seem like it has a lot to offer, the Skype blog says, “the card can go a long way in helping you keep in touch with the people you care about most.”

An infographic goes on to compare things that $10 can buy you compared to calling people over Skype. According to Skype, $10 will roughly buy you 1.62 cups of beer, but it will also get you a one-month premium subscription to Skype. The deal sounds sweet if you have family or friends staying abroad who need to contact you using landlines and mobile phones, because they don’t have access to the Internet.

Adding a social peg to gifting, Skype urges shoppers to create their gift cards on Facebook and add photos, audio or video message to give the receiver the impression that it is more than a generic gift. The e-gift card will then find its way to the recipient’s inbox where he can redeem it.

Reports suggest Skype is looking at monetising its messaging and calling platforms with the unveiling of Skype Ads for Windows 8 that will see a number of new ad formats enter the service that play on social interactivity. These will include promotions that will appear in conversation streams and ways for two people talking to each other to share sponsored content while communicating on Skype, quite like what Facebook seems to be doing these days. Though Skype-to-Skype calling is free, the gift card and Skype credits ensure that the user is exempt from advertising, something that the Microsoft owned company might be venturing into come 2013.

The gift card is supposed to come as a delight to frequent Skype users who have kin and close friends abroad with the option to share their Skype gift cards with multiple recipients either by sharing or forwarding the email containing the Skype Gift Card or providing the unique code associated with it.

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