Americans are holding onto $21 billion in unused gift cards. But despite the apparent disinterest in using them, it’s still one of the most requested gift items. A gift card is like giving someone a blank check – it’s the perfect gift when you don’t know what to get.
Gift cards are easy enough to find. Big box retailers like Walmart and Target have alcoves filled with dozens of options. You’ll find them in the checkout line at every grocery store and pharmacy. And you can order a virtual gift card from virtually any online retailer.
Here are some ideas for gift cards that could be an excellent gift for someone’s birthday, graduation, or holiday.
I do not receive any commission when you purchase gift cards through Amazon or any other retail website because gift cards are not eligible.
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Should You Buy an eGift Card or a Physical Gift Card?
Buying an eGift card as a gift might seem inviting, considering it’s instantly emailed to the recipient. But what about surprising them at a birthday party or Christmas morning? But before you rush out to buy a physical gift card, remember they can be lost.
So, should you buy an eGift card or a physical gift card?
Each has pros and cons, but ultimately, the better option is to buy a physical gift card. It’s easier to keep track of a physical gift card when an email can be accidentally deleted or lost in the deluge of junk mail. Many retailers and services like Lyft, Amazon, and Apple allow you to add a gift card to your account, ensuring it’s never lost and always available when you need it most.
And if you buy a physical gift card, it gives you something to hand someone physically. This 12-piece set of Christmas gift card boxes and this 48-piece Christmas gift card box set are perfect for that occasion. You could also get this 100-piece set with an unadorned kraft paper envelope.
Many airlines offer gift cards or vouchers, allowing you to offset someone’s flight. Interestingly, Southwest Airlines is the only one selling a physical gift card on Amazon, or you can buy one directly from their website. American Airlines sells virtual gift cards and plastic gift cards. You can personalize an eGift Card at Delta, or have one shipped in a complimentary greeting card. Alaska Airlines offers gift certificates that can be emailed or printed to wrap and place under the tree. On the Air Canada website, you can buy an eGift Card for instant delivery or a traditional card.
Traveling by railroad is not as popular in America as most European countries, but it’s still a great way to explore a new destination. Amtrak tickets get more expensive the later someone books travel, so buying a gift card could spur them into early action. Get an Amtrak eGift Card loaded with any amount you choose or an Amtrak Gift Card for $50, $100, or $200 mailed wherever you like.
Lyft and Uber
It’s not easy driving around an unfamiliar place, and it’s not cheap paying for hourly parking. The best way to visit all the coffee shops in Charleston or all of the craft breweries in Wilmington is to let someone else drive. You can help pay for the lift with a Lyft eGift Card or, an Uber eGift Card or physical gift card.
Some people enjoy the comfort of a full-service hotel like The Inn at Virginia Tech or the peacefulness of a boutique hotel like The Beaufort Inn. But whether they want to book an Airbnb or swanky hotel, you can help offset the cost. Get a Hotels.com eGift Card or a Hotels.com Gift Card for $50 or $100, or get them an Airbnb eGift Gift Card or Airbnb Gift Card for $50, $100, $200, or $500.
A Visa gift card is my favorite to receive because they are so easy to use. Accepted almost everywhere, one of these gift cards could help buy gas for a road trip, a first aid kit for their car, or a guided tour at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. You can get a Visa Gift Card for $25, $50, $100, or $200.
Mastercard is nearly as easy to use as any other credit card. One of these physical gift cards can go a long way when someone is exploring all the national parks along the East Coast. Mastercard Gift Cards are available for $25, $50, $100, or $200.
One of the most useful gift cards is for the king of online shopping – Amazon. These virtual or physical gift cards can go a long way toward buying the perfect portable coffee maker for travel or a great cooler to keep things cool and cozy in the summer. Amazon has several options for physical gift cards, including these in various gift boxes, a mini envelope, or this adorable limited-edition Prime van. You can also buy a virtual gift card that you can customize with a personal photo.
Audible is a great way of listening to a book while traveling by train or spending lazy afternoons lounging around a cabin. You can buy a one-month, three-month, six-month, or 12-month membership at the Audible Gift Center. Interestingly, you can also purchase a specific book if you know something they want to listen to next.
Barnes & Noble
Ah, yes, paper books. I’m still a big fan of flipping the pages of a book and signing the inside cover with my name and date of purchase. Available in $25, $50, and $100 increments, a Barnes & Noble Gift Card could help someone buy the next Lonely Planet or Frommer’s guidebook.
Apple is beginning to extend the reach of accounts like Facebook, allowing people to create accounts using their Apple ID and pay using their default method. So, buying an Apple Virtual Gift Card or Apple Gift Card could help someone buy the pro version of a handy travel app or pay for a yearly membership at AllTrails.
New apps are added to the Google Play store daily, which means people have more options for finding a great app for road trips. Buy someone a Google Play Gift Code or physical Google Play Gift Card to help buy the next great travel app.
DoorDash, UberEats, and Grubhub
Food is about the third most expensive travel category after lodging and transportation. And sometimes, you just want to enjoy a good meal on your condo’s balcony. Give someone the chance to order a meal for delivery with a DoorDash eGift Card or DoorDash Gift Card, UberEats eGift Card or UberEats Gift Card, or a Grubhub eGift Card or Grubhub Gift Card.
Instacart brings groceries to your house. Then, they expanded to include pharmacies and retail stores. It’s now possible to have a week’s worth of groceries and supplies delivered to your vacation rental a couple of hours after arriving. Help offset the cost with an Instacart eGift Card in any amount you choose.
REI is one of the best outdoor gear retailers in the country. The staff knows the gear inside and out because they typically use it themselves. You’ll find everything you need to visit all the national parks and essential items for road trips. Get an REI E-Gift Card emailed to someone, or choose from over a dozen designs for an REI Gift Card with free delivery.
Bass Pro Shops
Do you know someone who enjoys camping, boating, hunting, or fishing? Bass Pro Shops is the largest outdoor retailer for any kind of outdoor recreation. Help someone upgrade their gear with a Bass Pro Shops eGift Card or a physical $25, $50, or $100 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card.
Camping World is the definitive retailer for anyone with a travel trailer or RV. With Gander Outdoors, it’s easy to find any camping gear and RV supplies. Get someone a Camping World eGift Card or Camping World Gift Card.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes and no. You can buy travel gift cards for airfare, transportation, hotels, and food. You can also purchase retail gift cards to help people buy needed travel gear and accessories.
Visa and Mastercard gift cards are the best option for a worldwide gift card that can be used anywhere.
A travel gift card is any gift card that offsets the travel expense. This can be a gift card for airfare, transportation, meals, or retail, where you can buy travel gear and accessories.