Not all gift cards are alike, and consumers should know which ones offer great deals. These ten gift cards fit the bill, especially when you weight discounts, resale value, perks and fees.
A great place to get gift cards on the cheap is at warehouse clubs, notes Leah Ingram, spending and money-saving expert and author of the book The Complete Guide to Paying for College. "During the last holiday season, we were able to save 25% on gift cards by buying them in bulk at Costco," Ingram says.
People love their gasoline gift cards, and Shell is among the most popular. "We do an employee incentive here where our sales reps get to spin a wheel for a gift card, and I've noticed that whenever they land on the Shell gas gift cards, they cheer and dance around," says Danielle Kunkle, a vice president at Boomer Benefits in Fort Worth, Texas. "Everyone needs to fill their gas tank, and it's also a card they can easily pass on to their spouse or kids. Also, Shell stations are everywhere. I think that's why people like them the best."
This massage gift card is what retail marketers call a "concept card." The Massage Heist card can be used at any one of 150 U.S.-based spa and massage centers. "It really allows flexibility in using our services where and when it's most convenient for them, whether it's after a long day at the office at their hometown retreat or as a special treat while they're out of town traveling for work or pleasure," says Shane Evans, co-founder and president of Massage Heights. "The last thing we want is to stress people out over complicated terms and conditions, fees and expiration dates."
This tax deductible charitable giving-based card is brand new - it just launched on May 3, 2017. The concept is simple and appealing - give a Donors Unite card as a gift, and the recipient can steer the card toward a major charity of his or her choosing. "The website allows donors to search for charities by ZIP code or an organization's name," states Myron Levine, founder of the New York City-based organization. "Using Guidestar, the world's largest database of nonprofit companies, every known charity in the United States is listed on Donors Unite. For a minimum of $10, a donor can buy a gift card for a specific charity, customize a design, and then present the card by email or in person. Cards can be digital, instantly printed, or ordered in packs to use over time."
Amazon gift cards are proving to be increasingly popular, mostly due to the fact that card gives the recipient instance access to millions of products and services sold through the Amazon sales channel. Gift card exchange sites like CardPool and Raise even offer Amazon gift cards at a discount, creating more demand for the plastic.
"An eBay gift card is always a good bet," says Chris Brantner, the founder of BillGeeks.com, a site focused on offering bill-cutting and money-saving tips "Not only is the possibility of what you can buy substantial, but the average resale value for a $100 gift cards is $75.70, according to WalletHub.com. So even if you can't find something you like, or you just don't feel like you need anything right now, you'll still get some pretty good money reselling it."
At nearly 17% off, Olive Garden offers a great deal and can generally be used at other restaurants within the Brinker dining group, which includes Bahama Breeze, Season's 52, Red Lobster, Yard House and LongHorn Steakhouse, says Michelle Kille, vice president at GiftCardBin, in Sacramento. "That makes it a versatile card."
"This card earns up to 5% of the purchase price added back to the gift card balance when you shop at participating merchants," says Shelley Hunter, gift card expert at GiftCards.com
"Another flexible card, the Gap cards can be used across Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and ATHLETA, including the outlet stores," says Hunter. "That's more than the typical one-brand gift card." As a bonus, these stores run a number of sales which makes it easier to stack savings for things like back-to-school shopping, when you pair discount codes with discounted gift cards from a gift card exchange site, like Cardpool.com, Hunter adds.
"Customers who purchase $50 or more worth of product at Sephora can get a free makeover," says Hunter. "So when you give someone a $50 gift card, you're effectively giving them a gift, plus a free makeover."