Which Gift Cards Are Worth Buying?

#Sephora #giftcard signI have a love/hate relationship with gift cards. Yes, they are convenient and show the recipient some consideration.


The bank or retailer is holding on to your money until the card is redeemed. Not only are you lending them your cash for free, but banks actually charge you for the privilege. Hey, at least throw in some nice packaging! So as a public service, I visited local retailers and gathered some helpful intel:

  • Most stores sell you a card with, maybe, an envelope to put it in. Boring!
  • If you’re a Costco member, you can buy a gift card and the recipient doesn’t have to be a member to use it. However, there is a 5% surcharge for non-members. Still a sweet deal.
  • Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works give you a nice box for the gift card.
  • Rite Aid is currently offering extra points on their loyalty card for purchases of gift cards to DSW, Hollister, Forever 21, JoAnn Fabrics, Claire’s, Pet Smart and XBox. It’s a really specific list and it seems like a short-lived bonus.
  • Banana Republic sent cardholders a 10% discount on gift cards purchased in December 2016.
  • These chain restaurants offer some version of an extra $10.00 with $50.00 in gift card purchases: Applebees, Panera, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, TGI Friday’s, Miller’s Ale House, Longhorn Steakhouse and Boston Market.
  • Tony Roma’s is giving $15.00 in “Roma Bucks” for each $50.00 egift card.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts sells a $10.00 card good for six large hot coffees or teas. This is popular, though, and may be sold out in most locations.
  • Cheesecake Factory is giving a slice of cheesecake for every $25.00 gift card purchase.
  • The winner: Cosmetics store  Sephora. You can choose to present your gift card in a mirror or a small, flat zippered pouch. Your lucky giftee can redeem $50.00 in gift card money for a 45-minute makeover. I did notice, though, that Sephora rarely has anything on sale.

Store sign for a Dunkin' Donuts gift cardI like the challenge of matching the right gift to the right person. That can’t always happen, though. Some people like things that are way out of my budget and others are just very particular. Then there’s the logistical challenge of transporting multiple large gifts, making gift cards a practical solution. I just think that the consumer should be given an incentive to buy.

Feel free to share your own gift card advice in the comments!

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