Gift cards aren’t just a catch-all and they aren’t the lazy way to make holidays happier. Gift cards are the greatest gift because they allow you to buy all of the best things you’ve secretly had on your wish list.
Gift cards have actually been the most popular type of present for over a decade. This is because they make gift-giving easier while also ensuring the recipient gets exactly what they want. This year, gift cards are also anticipated to be extremely popular because product shortages, shipping delays, and other factors have gifters skipping in-store shopping and seeking options that are both guaranteed to please and sure to be in stock this season.
But just because they are a practical and popular present doesn’t mean that all gift cards are created equal — far from it! Everyone would rather enjoy their gift than have it sitting in a wallet or drawer waiting to be used… someday. And no one wants to receive a gift from a place that offers nothing they would want, only to see it regifted in next year’s White Elephant exchange!
Instead, some of the most popular gift cards to receive over the last few years have been from stores and businesses that add value to our everyday lives — from the coffee we reach for in the morning to the gas we need to fill our cars for future epic road trips, and from the foods we crave, to the music we’re streaming and the shows we’re binging.
Gift cards are the best gifts because they allow you to pick out something that will definitely please you, so you won’t be disappointed during the holidays with a bad, unwanted, or ill-fitting item under the tree.
And it’s a bonus that they are so portable! Not only are they an especially thoughtful gift if you’re flying home from visiting family and friends and don’t want to be burdened with extra luggage, but they are the most convenient present since they are easy to carry around and you’ll most likely have them with you when you want to use them.
Do you have your fingers crossed hoping to receive a coveted gift card this year? Here are the top ten best gift card retailers and services to buy the things you probably have on your list this season:
From croissants to cake pops, a Starbucks gift card satisfies any caffeine fix, hunger strike, or sweet tooth, and has over 33,000 locations where it can be used.
Who doesn’t love chicken? And this favorite fast-food option has both eats and treats.
Popular for techies, tunesters, and TV fans, Apple gift cards work for everything Apple — products, accessories, services, and more.
Whatever you’ve been looking for, no matter how obscure, it’s almost sure to be on the World’s Online Market Place.
Not only can you find literally anything on your wish list, but you may also be able to get it to your door on the same day!
These gift cards are perfect for anyone who enjoys television or movies, and the best part is that a NetFlix gift can be enjoyed by you alone or your entire family.
DIY isn’t a fad, it’s fabulous — and a gift card to Home Depot can help you realize all of your projects since it’s “How Doers Get More Done.”
Shell (or your preferred gas station)
With a gas gift card, you’ll really be going places. This most practical gift is also the most popular since you can get fuel, snacks, and other items on the go.
But here are some further tips to make the most out of your gift cards, whether they are from your preferred retailer or not.
Spend your gift card right away. In fact, the faster you shop with it the better. If it’s a restaurant gift card, go ahead and schedule a night out to reconnect with friends or go on that post-holiday date. If it’s a store card and you don’t already have something you’ve been saving for, head to the shop or look online to see what strikes your fancy.
You have to actually use your gift card for it to be a great gift, so if you forget about it, lose it, or leave it idle long enough for it to expire, it won’t be able to get you any of those items you were asking Santa to bring you this year.
If you find that you just can’t imagine anything at the retailer or service on which you would want to spend your gift card in the span of a few months, then it probably isn’t the best gift card for you. But that’s ok because you still have options!
Sell your gift card or trade it in. You shouldn’t just let unwanted gift cards go to waste. Instead, there are a variety of places where you can turn them into credits you’ll actually use, or even get cash for them! There are too many gift card sell and swap places to list here, but know that if you go this route, you likely will give up a bit of your gift card’s value. But getting something may be better than nothing.
One of the best ways to trade in an unwanted gift card and still maintain its value, however, is to trade it in for airline mileage. Some carriers, like United Airlines’ Mileage Plus program, will accept gift cards in exchange for miles. So maybe you didn’t score a trip from Santa, but that gift card from Aunt Judy may help you to get there.
Regardless of how you spend your gift cards — or whether you trade them in for other perks and points — remember to take advantage of Fetch Rewards to earn even more. Of course, you’ll need to have a Fetch Rewards account to do this, and there is no better time to sign up for this free service.
When you remember to snap and submit a picture of all of your receipts to Fetch, you collect points that can quickly turn into free gift cards, and then you can afford more of the best products and services to buy with gift cards this year.
Kate Michael is a Writer, Emcee, On-Camera Host and Fashion/Commercial Model.
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