How Do You Pick the Right Gift Card

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When it comes to giving presents, gift cards are always the right size - or are they? Frankly, there's a reason that websites that resell gift cards exist; it is possible to give an unwanted gift card. Moreover, some people consider gift cards too impersonal but that doesn't have to be the case, as long as you select the right gift card instead of one to just a big box store. All in all, giving a gift card isn't always as easy as some people make it out to be. As much as people say "it's the thought that counts," a conscientious gift-giver really wants the recipient to appreciate the gift itself as well as the thought. After all, you're spending the money and ostensibly, you care about the person you're gifting. Of course you want whatever gift card you choose to be something that will come across as intended: with thought, care, and best wishes.

7 Steps to Pick Out a Winning Gift Card

  1. Consider the Recipient's Likes and Needs
  2. Consider Where the Recipient Lives
  3. Consider the Recipient's Online Habits
  4. Develop a Shortlist
  5. Research Your Shortlist’s Expiration, Online Use, etc
  6. Make Your Selection
  7. Order Your Card or ECard Based on Your Recipient

The Steps Explained

The first and most important thing you must consider when picking the right gift card is your recipient. First and foremost, what do they like and/or what do they need? You may think that everyone can find something at Amazon, Target, or Wal-Mart, but that's not always the best choice and they certainly don't always feel personal. If your loved one is really into makeup, consider a beauty store. If they love stuffed animals, there are toy stores specifically for stuffees. Alternatively, if you're talking about a typical, poor college student, a pizza gift card might be most appreciated. Think outside the box and you might be surprised what you come up with that could really be a great match.

But don't get carried away and go buying it yet - steps two and three are interchangeable. You may have decided that your favorite Italian chain restaurant is a great idea for your spaghetti-loving sister, but there may not be one in her town. Thankfully, these days it's easy to find out locations of virtually any type of store or restaurant, movie theatre, etc, online. Also consider your recipient's online shopping habits (along with how much your gift card is for). If they shop online frequently and the place you're considering has a great online shop, go for it - if they aren't known for their high shipping rates. Also avoid this route for a small gift card; your cousin doesn't want to spend $7 in shipping on a $10 gift. Alternatively, remember that not everyone shops online, even at the popular places. Don't assume Aunt Gloria will know how to use that Amazon gift card even if it is a great option for her - she may need a local option.

By now you should have a shortlist or at least be ready to develop one. Then you should research your shortlist, making sure that the gift card or certificate can be used as intended: online if the store is both brick and mortar and online or if the recipient doesn't live close. Make sure it has no expiration date or at least one very far in the future. Check if there are any exemptions to the use of the gift card (occasionally a store may not allow it to be used for certain brands or with certain deals), and so on. Just make sure you read all of the fine print. Then make your selection! Purchase either an actual gift card or an online one (if possible), depending on what is easier for your intended recipient and based on your preferences. Bear in mind that it is possible to lose a real one but email can be saved forever.