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TheStreet Open House

The Five Best Gift Cards

Stocks in this article: AXP AMZN COST

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Gift cards should be judged by how quickly they clear out your shopping list.

In a National Retail Federation survey this year, 22% of people who said they would abstain from buying gift cards said they would do so because the considered cards "impersonal." Sadly, that's kind of the point. The 77% of people surveyed who will purchase a gift card for someone else this year are looking for something practical, not personal, to give in a sluggish economy.

Gift cards will be the most-popular choice among holiday consumers this year, according to American Express' (AXP - Get Report) Spending and Saving Tracker. Fifty-eight percent of people surveyed by American Express said they planned to buy them this year. Overall, 19% of consumers will devote most of their holiday budget to gift cards this season.

Not just any card will do. Sanj Raj, chief executive officer of the gift card auction site DFWbid.com, says his site has lost money on gift cards for Nintendo Wiis and Apple (AAPL) iPods. Consumers are sticking to pragmatic offerings from Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT), among others.

"We have moms, dads, grandparents and college kids using our site," Raj says. "The economy during the last couple of years has pushed these people to be more financially wary of what they buy."

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