The 14 Best Gift Cards to Give for the Holidays

Expert analysis says these gift cards offer the best perks. Here's how to snag them and other gift cards for less than their retail value.

The 14 Best Gift Cards to Give for the Holidays Photo by RossHelen / Shutterstock.com

Gift cards might be cliche, but they’re as popular as ever.

They are the most commonly given present for 12 years running, according to WalletHub’s latest annual gift card study.

Some gift cards make much better presents than others, though.

For its study, WalletHub analyzed 50 popular gift card options, giving each card a score out of 100 possible points. The scores ranged from a high of 75 — earned by Disney gift cards — to a low of 15, given to both Hobby Lobby and Shell gift cards.

The scores are based on five factors:

  • How popular the gift cards are
  • How much of a discount you can buy them for on a gift card marketplace like Cardpool.com or Raise.com
  • How much you can sell them for on a gift card marketplace
  • How much people like the retailer
  • Shipping fees

The 14 best gift cards for 2018

Out of the 50 gift cards included in the analysis this year, 14 earned overall scores of higher than 50. They are:

Several of these gift cards are perennially strong performers. The following four were among the highest-rated cards in WalletHub’s 2017 analysis and 2016 analysis:

  • iTunes
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Amazon

Saving money on gift cards

Whomever you might be purchasing gift cards for, there are numerous ways to save money. The best places to buy gift cards for less are:

Gift card marketplaces: These are online exchanges through which folks with unwanted gift cards can sell them for less than their face value to savvy shoppers. If you pay $80 for a gift card that has a $100 balance, for example, you will effectively save an extra 20 percent on everything you buy with that card.

Gift card marketplaces are a great place to buy gift cards for yourself because they tend to have a wider variety of cards at steeper discounts than you can find elsewhere.

A comparison site called Gift Card Granny will also tell you which gift card marketplace is selling a given retailer’s gift cards at the biggest discount at any given time.

You may not want to buy a gift card that you intend to give as a gift from a marketplace, though. Cards sold on exchanges are technically secondhand and often have been used once, so many have odd balances left of them, such as $84.21.

Wholesale clubs: Chains like Costco and Sam’s Club sell discounted gift cards. Their selection isn’t as large as you would find on a gift card marketplace, but they sell brand-new gift cards that you could give as gifts without issue.

So, always check the selections at warehouse stores before paying full price for a new gift card.

To see their selections online, visit:

Amazon: The retail giant often offers discounts on new gift cards, though usually only on a small selection of cards that changes frequently.

You can scope out the current offers on Amazon’s “Gift Cards by Brand” webpage. Look for the section called “Deals in Gift Cards.”

What’s your favorite gift card, or your favorite place to buy them? Share with us by commenting below or over on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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