What Are the Most Popular Gift Cards?

The Most Popular Gift Cards

A gift card is a great way to send someone something simple and valuable at the same time. Gift cards are great for events like graduations or weddings because they stand in for gifts of cash, are more secure, and can be geared toward the needs or desire of the person you’re gifting.

When giving a gift card, it is important to know that you’re buying something the person will use. The amount of the gift card is not as important as the store or merchant that the gift card is valid for. Here are the ten most popular gift cards, based on sales numbers and reports from online gift card exchanges. Buying a person one of these ten gift cards is a really safe bet.

1. Visa Gift / American Express / MasterCard Gift Cards

Pros: These gift cards are sometimes re loadable (meaning the person can keep using them by loading their own cash into the card later) which is kind of unique — what other gift card turns into a fairly responsible way of handling your cash? Another upside for the cash card is that you can use them a lot of different places — anywhere that the brand on the front of the card is accepted.

Cons: Check the fine print on the back of the card before you buy it for a loved one — there are sometimes fees built into the card that make them far less valuable than a plain cash gift. Another downside for the branded gift cash card is the fact that they’re kind of dorky. Why didn’t the person gifting you trust you with a cash gift? It seems kind of impersonal, while cash tucked into an envelope is like a beautiful embrace.

2. Lowe’s Gift Cards

This hardware store gift card is a mainstay man gift. Even the wimpiest of men can find something they need at a big hardware store chain like Lowe’s, and to the manlier men in your life a gift card to Lowe’s is like a license to break something expensive. If you need a quick gift for someone with a Y chromosome, a gift card to a hardware store is almost never in bad taste. Check the person’s area first — if there’s not a Lowe’s in his area, do a quick Google search and find what chain is near enough to warrant a little gift card usage.

I don’t want to make it sound like only dudes will appreciate a Lowe’s card. My wife does all the painting and most of the yard work. She’d love a hardware store gift card as much as the sweatiest guy you can find.

3. iTunes Gift Cards

I would be hard pressed to come up with a downside for the iTunes gift card. Most people with computers have active iTunes accounts. Heck, my sixty year old parents are more active on iTunes than I am — that’s why a gift card to iTunes is great for just about anyone you need to gift. Cards for iTunes purchases are really great gifts for budget conscious people, too — you can buy a lot of Bruce Springsteen songs for a cool $20 on iTunes, so your gift will go a lot longer than a similarly priced card at any other retail store.

4. Walmart Gift Cards

A gift card to Walmart is really only appropriate in certain situations:

  • If the person you’re giving a gift to is one of those “I love Wal-mart” types.
  • If the person you’re giving a gift to has four or more children.
  • If the person you’re giving a gift to earned the gift by getting married or having a baby.
  • If the person you’re giving a gift to is from the state of Oklahoma.

Just kidding about the Oklahoma part, of course. The point here is not to give something as pedestrian as a Wal-mart gift card to someone for their Sweet Sixteen. Choose your Wal mart gift card opportunities wisely.

5. Target Gift Cards

See all the rules for Wal-mart, but change “the state of Oklahoma” to “pretty much anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.”

6. Home Depot Gift Cards

A gift card to the Home Depot is the more family friendly version of the Lowe’s gift card. The Home Depot seems to cater more to all members of the family, while Lowe’s has a certain air of machismo about it. I get the feeling that my grandmother would be as comfortable shopping at the Home Depot as she would be at a large gathering of other people who knit.

7. Fast Food Gift Cards

This is another gift card that really needs to be tailored to the person getting the gift. What’s the use of sending someone a Taco Bell gift card if they live smack in the middle of Taco Bueno country? Beyond that, you need to figure out if this is a person who could even use fast food giftcards. I know as many people who would never consider eating fast food as I do people who do it enough to use a gift card. But for the college students and commuting businesspeople in your life, a fast food gift card is a great idea.

8. Best Buy Gift Cards

Once upon a time, my local Best Buy had a massive collection of CDs and even cassette tapes at decent prices. We’re talking a truly eclectic mix of independent artists you couldn’t find anywhere else and the big ticket things to give to my idiot friends as gifts. That time is long gone — try to find anything deeper than Montell Jordan at a Best Buy, I dare you. I would never use a Best Buy gift card, and I’m fairly technologically savvy. This seems like a non gift, especially since Best Buy has terrible prices.

9. Macy’s Gift Cards

If a gift card to Lowe’s is the go to generic “man” gift, a Macy’s gift card is what you give to women. Yes, men can shop at Macy’s stores, just like women could theoretically make a purchase at Lowe’s, but such an incidence has never been observed in the wild. Macy’s stuff can be pricey, so a Macy’s gift card is like encouraging someone to spend a little extra for something nice for themselves, and as such this is a classy gift for any time of year.

10. Gas Cards

The price of gas fluctuates enough that the value of a gas station gift card is not always easy to figure out. Earlier this year I paid as little as $1.85 for a gallon of gas — the price is now just above $3 in my area, and that $1.15 difference per gallon makes my measly $25 BP gift card something of a disaster.

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