Even the most sensible cards can have drawbacks. The NRF said 13% of people who refuse to buy gift cards worry about expiration dates and other fees, while 5.3% fear the recipient would lose it or never use it.

Many retailers nixed expiration dates and monthly inactivity fees after new rules from the Federal Reserve Board limited fees and restrictions. However, those policies could force many retailers to scale back refillable gift cards and force banks and credit card companies to add or increase purchase fees on their gift cards.

"I bought three Best Buy ( BBY) gift cards for my children and the benefit to Best Buy is that it can only be used in one place," says Rick Fischer, financial services partner at Washington D.C.-based firm Morrison & Foerster and Washington counsel for Visa ( V). "People who give gift cards in the future may have to make a decision between retailers because they can't just give a gift card that is accepted where MasterCard ( MA) is accepted."

Until that's hashed out, here are the five best gift cards for the difficult-to-please or nominally important people in your life: >> See the five best gift cards.

If you liked this article you might like

Your Complete Guide to Living Like Billionaire Warren Buffett

How to Get Rich Using Warren Buffett's Favorite Stock Market Indicators

How to Make Your Life Successful Just Like Billionaire Warren Buffett

How to Live Just Like Billionaire Warren Buffett

How to Make a Deal Like Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett