Gift cards are a present for modern times. Since their introduction, their popularity has grown every year. This year, consumers will be spending an average of $173 per person on gift cards. In total, that equals up to more than $31 billion being put onto little plastic rectangles. There are reasons not to purchase gift cards, yet they are still in high demand as consumer seek out convenience.
Almost every store is offering some form of gift cards. Here is a compilation of the top five and my reasons for choosing them.
1. Starbucks Gift Card
A venti frappaccino, or whatever they are called, will not top my gift wish list this year, but many others would gladly snatch up this gift card. Since I am not a coffee drinker (yes, I know they serve more than coffee), this card made my list for another reason: the sheer ease of access to it. The card can be purchase in store or online and, then shipped for free to the receiver, who may or may not link it up to her cloud, in order to access it on her smart phone. Starbucks has made it's gift card easy to use and caffeine addicts are asking for it this Holiday season.
2. American Express and GiftCardMall.com Visa Gift Cards
I included the Visa and American Express gift cards together because they both are essentially giving someone cash. Cash is always a good thing. They both have a same draw back: a purchaser's fee. The American Express gift card will set buyers back about $4 dollars. However, the card can be loaded with up to $5,000 -- spread across two cards -- and can be used almost anywhere in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The Visa card, on the other hand, will cost the buyer $6 for fees and shipping. It can be loaded with between $30 and $500 and used almost anywhere.
3. Amazon Gift Card
Amazon always delivers.
You may think this is a cop-out. Amazon has virtually everything, and so, of course, it is going to make the list. You may be right. This card can be giving as the traditional plastic or as a digital form. The amount that can be put on the card ranges from a mere $5 to $5000. The best thing about it is that it can be used to buy almost everything on Amazon.com.
4. Marriott Gift Card
A gift of travel? Yes, please. Once purchased, with a value from $25 to $2000, this gift can be used in Marriott-branded hotels including Fairfield Inn, Courtyard, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Bulgari, and Autograph. It can even be used internationally. Recipients can check their balance online or by phone, and it will be replaced if lost, stolen, or damaged.
5. Home Depot Gift Card
We all know of the little fiasco Home Depot had with he data breach earlier this year, making the idea of a gift card more appealing. Accidents happen, or projects are thought up, and at some point, a trip to Home Depot must be made. The company allows the card, valued between $10 and $500, to be used in store, online, and with other gift cards for those big orders. It can be also sent via e-card for those loved ones further away.
Cards come in pretty much the same shape and size, just different colors from different places. Consider these five, well six, for your family and friends this year.
Remember, a gift card should always be for what someone wants, not what they need. The joy of giving a person a form of cash is allowing them to spend it the way they want to -- hopefully in the most frivolous way possible that will make him happiest. Whatever you do, don't discount gift cards this holiday season.
[All images via commons.wikipedia.org]