How to Buy the Perfect Gift Card

Your Guide to buying the best gift cards


Gift cards are an increasingly popular gift-giving option, offering the giver and recipient the freedom to choose from a wide variety of retailers. This buying guide will provide information on the types of gift cards available, the best places to buy them, and tips for making sure your purchase is secure. Whether you’re buying for yourself or someone else (or maybe both!), understanding the different types of cards, how to buy them, and how to use them is key to making sure your gift card purchase is as convenient and secure as possible.

Key features

  1. Price Range: What is the price range of the gift card? Is a gift card available at a certain price point?
  2. Recipient: Who is the recipient of the gift card? Are there any restrictions or limitations to who the card can be gifted to?
  3. Expiry date: Does the gift card have an expiry date? Is there a time limit on when the card needs to be used?
  4. Acceptance: Where is the gift card accepted? Will the card be accepted in stores and online?
  5. Delivery: How will the gift card be delivered? Is the card sent via mail or email?
  6. Reusability: Is the card reusable? Can it be used multiple times or only once?
  7. Fees: Are there any fees associated with the gift card? Are there any fees associated with the delivery or activation of the card?
  8. Other features: Are there any other features associated with the card? Are any additional services or privileges included?

See the most popular gift cards on Amazon

Important considerations


  • Convenience: Gift cards are an easy way to give a meaningful present that requires little effort.
  • Flexibility: Gift cards are versatile and can be used to purchase anything from food to clothing.
  • Cost-Effective: Gift cards can be purchased in any amount and are often discounted making them an economical option.
  • Personalization: Many gift cards can be personalized with a message or the recipient's name.
  • Choice: Gift cards are available in a wide range of designs and styles to suit any occasion.


  • Redemption Fees: Some gift cards have fees associated with them for purchase or redemption, which can reduce the value of the card.
  • Expiration Dates: Many gift cards have an expiration date, after which they can no longer be used.
  • Limitations on Use: Often, gift cards can only be used to purchase items from a specific retailer or merchant, may not be used online, and may not be redeemable for cash.
  • Lack of Protection: Generally, gift cards are not protected from theft or fraud as regular credit or debit cards would be.
  • Fees for Inactivity: In some cases, gift cards may accrue fees if they are not used within a certain time period.

Best alternatives

  1. Cash - the simplest and most direct way to give a gift
  2. Gift Certificate - a pre-paid certificate that can be used to buy goods or services from a specific merchant or service provider
  3. Store Credit - a credit given by a store or other business that can be used to purchase goods or services from that store or business
  4. Gift Basket - a collection of items presented in an attractive package as a gift
  5. Experience Gift - an experience given as a gift, such as a spa day, concert, or a cooking class
  6. Charitable Donation - a donation to a charity as a gift

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Common questions

  1. What types of gift cards are available? Gift cards are available in different types, including physical gift cards that are sent via mail, electronic gift cards that are sent via email, and digital gift cards that can be stored on a phone or printed.
  2. Where can I buy gift cards? Gift cards can be purchased in physical stores, on retailer websites, or online marketplaces.
  3. How much money can be put on a gift card? The amount of money that can be put on a gift card varies by retailer. Generally, gift cards can range from a minimum of $10 to a maximum of $500.
  4. What fees are associated with gift cards? Depending on the type of gift card and the retailer, there may be activation fees, purchase fees, or dormancy fees associated with the card.
  5. Are there any restrictions with gift cards? Depending on the retailer, gift cards may have expiration dates, or may only be able to be used for certain types of purchases. It is important to read the terms and conditions associated with a gift card before purchasing.
  6. What should I do if my gift card is lost or stolen? Check the terms and conditions associated with the gift card to see what steps you should take if the card is lost or stolen. Generally, if the card has been registered, the balance may be able to be recovered.


In 2018, a man in Canada received a gift card from his daughter that was 15 years out of date. He attempted to use it at the store but employees refused to accept it. He reached out to the company and, after some negotiation, they agreed to honor the gift card from 15 years ago and applied it to a purchase of $100. The story spread throughout Canada and was even featured in media outlets such as CBC

Disclaimer: This buying guide was not created by humans, and it is possible that some of it's content is inaccurate or incomplete. We do not guarantee or take any liability for the accuracy of this buying guide. Additionally, the images on this page were generated by AI and may not accurately represent the product that is being discussed. We have tried to convey useful information, but it is our subjective opinion and should not be taken as complete or factual.