When it comes to choosing a gift for a loved one, a coworker, or someone who has helped you in any way, there is a lot of pressure to find an item that is personalized, thoughtful and appropriate for both the person and the situation. In the past, gift cards have been seen as a last-minute gift that required little thought or emotion. But that’s no longer the case. From travel to food, entertainment to experiences, just about every business now offers a gift card option for customers.
Gift cards give people the opportunity to thank someone even if they don’t know that person well. Gift cards also make it easy to sidestep any difficult interactions and can give people the opportunity to help others without it looking like a handout. If you know a friend who is going through a difficult time financially, handing them a check could hurt the relationship, but providing them with a gift card to a grocery store or a favorite restaurant could help ease their financial burden and keep the friendship intact.
During the pandemic, gift cards have become a great way to support local businesses even when you’re not able to utilize their services. Your city’s theatre may be temporarily closed but purchasing a gift card for a future performance will help bring in the revenue it will need to reopen when it’s safe to do so.
A Few Things To Note When Giving A Gift Card
- Choose something that is appropriate for the receiver. If you don’t know your child’s teacher well, skip a gift card to your favorite fishing store and go with something a bit more generic, like an Amazon gift card.
- Always attach a thoughtful and personalized message with a gift card.
- If possible, include a gift receipt with the gift card in case the receiver loses the physical card.
- Make sure you choose a gift card the recipient can use. Money to spend at a fancy restaurant is great, but not if the recipient lives in another state.
- Choose an amount that is suited for the situation. A $5 Starbucks card isn’t appropriate for a wedding gift, but a $150 AirBnB gift card can help a couple go on a honeymoon.
- If possible, cover the activation fee on a gift card by adding an additional amount or opt for cards with no fees.
Need more ideas for the best gift cards to give? Check out our top picks below.
1. Amazon Gift Card
There isn’t much that you can’t buy on Amazon, from exercise equipment to groceries, to clothing and household items. An Amazon gift card gives receivers the freedom to choose just about any item they’ve had their eye or put it towards entertainment, including Amazon Prime videos, music or titles from the Amazon Kindle Store, which is packed with thousands of e-books. Plus, if you are an Amazon Prime member, your gift card can be delivered in hours, making for an excellent last-minute option. Available in any amount between $1 and $2,000, an Amazon gift card is one of the most versatile options available in the gift card market.
2. Giving Good Feeding America Gift Card
HAS A PHILANTHROPIC ANGLE
If you are worried that gift cards don’t have enough of a thoughtful angle, we recommend checking out one of the charitable options from GiftCards.com. The site has several gift cards that come with a donation to a specific charity, including Feeding America, Wounded Warrior, St. Jude’s and Make-A-Wish. Three percent of the total amount of the Giving Good card will be donated to the charity specified on the card. The donation amount is matched by Blackhawk Network, which means the receiver will still get the full amount initially loaded onto the gift card.
Giving Good Feeding America Gift Card
$25 and up
FOR THE STREAMER
Give someone a seemingly endless supply of TV shows and movies with a gift card to Netflix. Gift receivers can Netflix and chill by applying the gift card to their current Netflix account or starting a new account for free. The gift card is available in $30, $60 and $100 increments and users don’t need a credit card in order to make use of their Netflix gift card.
FOR ANYONE WHO NEEDS A NIGHT OFF FROM COOKING
Being able to send someone a meal is a great gift option that is appropriate for several situations. Whether you are looking for a gift for exhausted new parents, want to help ease the burden of someone who has just experienced the loss of a loved one, or you want to celebrate a friend’s exciting news by buying them dinner from afar, a DoorDash gift card allows users to enjoy their favorite restaurant from the comfort of their own home. Support local restaurants, surprise your employees who are working from home with a ‘catered lunch,’ or gift a college student a week of pizzas with a gift card that can be used at just about any restaurant.
FOR THE TRAVELER
Travel has seen a massive decrease since the onset of the pandemic, but when it is once again safe to fly, a gift card that can be used on any major airline makes an excellent gift for the traveler in your life. Gift newlyweds a card that can be used towards their delayed honeymoon or help a friend fly home for the holidays with a gift card that can be used on hundreds of major airlines. Flightgift will send the receiver a gift card that looks like a real plane ticket, acting as a fun reminder that someday we will all be able to travel safely again.
$25 to $10,000
FOR ANYONE WHO NEEDS A PLACE TO STAY
Like the airline industry, hotels have also seen a dramatic decrease in business since the onset of the pandemic. Although many people are still hesitant to leave their homes, and rightly so, a gift card to Hotels.com, which can be used at most major hotels, can still make an excellent gift in 2021. The gift card can be saved for future vacations when travel is once again permitted and safe or it can be used by someone who needs a place to isolate after traveling for work purposes. For anyone who needs to get away but wants to do so safely, a local hotel can also offer a staycation with fewer risks than international travel.
$25 and up
7. Gift of College
FOR THE STUDENT
For the student in your life, a gift card that can help them save for their education is a great way to set them up for a successful future that is (hopefully) debt-free. With a Gift of College gift card, receivers can set up an account that makes it easy for friends, family and employers to contribute to any 529 college savings. Start a student’s post-secondary career off with a gift card that can be purchased in $25 to $200 increments and help them focus on their classes, not their student debt.
Gift of College
$25 to $200
FOR THE INVESTOR
Need a gift for someone who loves to invest? How about a gift for the person in your life who only appears to shop at one store? Instead of getting them a typical gift card to their favorite shopping destination, make them a stockholder with a gift card from Stockpile. Customers can choose from a huge list of major companies, including Coca-Cola, Netflix, Under Armour, Tesla, and Apple. Customers can also include an open gift card that allows receivers to choose their own stock. Buy $25, $50, or $100 increments and gift someone small ownership in a major company.
$25, $50 or $100
FOR THE FOODIE
For the foodie in your life, a gift card to Goldbelly means the chance to sample the restaurants, bakeries and breweries they’ve been drooling over. Goldbelly makes it possible for customers to choose from hundreds of restaurants across the US and have items shipped to them directly. Know someone who has always wanted to try Junior’s Cheesecake from the famous New York bakery? Gift them a Goldbelly gift card and get a fresh cheesecake to enjoy without hopping on a plane.
$25 to $200
AN EXPERIENCE GIFT CARD
For a gift card that can be used for a physical good or an experience, we recommend Groupon. The destination for thrifty and smart shoppers, Groupon offers deals on everything from restaurants to spas, to house cleaning services and items like clothes, exercise equipment and even jewelry. Whether you want a gift for someone who loves to support local or lives to travel, Groupon has a deal for everyone.