Best Place to Buy Gift Cards
Online gift cards make great birthday presents, graduation gifts and even just a kind gesture to a friend or family member.
It used to be that you could only redeem a gift card to a particular store or company but with the introduction of Visa and MasterCard gift cards, the list of redemption locations is nearly endless. So what's the benefit of giving a gift card over cash? Well, cash can easily get lost or stolen and it's often inconvenient to carry around.
An online gift card, on the other hand, are replaceable (if lost or stolen), compact, and can even be personalized with photos or an insignia. Learn which sites rank highest for buying, selling and customizing these cards.
Online Gift Cards: What to Consider
If it's your first time purchasing gift cards online, these considerations may help you make a more informed decision.
User-friendly Platform-Evaluate the site's ease-of-use and navigation features. Is it easy for you to find exactly what you're looking for or are you constantly being redirected by advertisements and external links?
Features-Can you buy, sell, and exchange gift cards? Does the site offer a purchase guarantee to ensure that you're satisfied and the cards are indeed valid? These are all relevant questions to answer before shopping with a company.
Inventory Selection-Does the site have a wide selection of cards to choose from with customizable options like personal photos and design templates? Many sites who are Visa and MasterCard certified allow you to upload a photo or browse their selection of designs to make the gift stand out.
Fees-No one likes paying fees; especially those you weren't anticipating. Check whether the website charges a purchase or shipping fee as well as expiration fees. Sometimes, if you don't use a card within a certain period of time, you get charged a monthly account fee until the balance reaches zero.
- Refer a friend reward ($5)
- Buy or sell gift cards
- Extensive inventory
- No fees or expirations
- 100-day purchase guarantee
- Mobile and electronic gift cards non-refundable
- No Visa or MasterCard gift cards
Cardpool works as a type of gift card marketplace. There, you can sell your unwanted cards, buy ones up to 35% off, and never be hassled with fees or expirations. Cardpool has been featured on a number of high profile networks including CNN, ABC, FOX, and NBC.
What's the Process?
The site buys its inventory of gift cards from customers after thoroughly checking their authenticity and verifying their balance. If you're interested in selling your gift cards to Cardpool, you can expect payment within 1 business day after they receive it-even if they don't have a buyer for it yet.
On the other hand, if you're looking to buy a gift card you can browse their extensive inventory which includes thousands of merchants in a variety of categories. Just to give you a rough idea, they stock cards from:
- Bath & Body Works
- Bass Pro Shops
- Armani Exchange
- Game Stop
- AMC Theatres
The list goes on and on but you can easily identify one you're interesting in by conducting a search through the 'search' function or clicking on the various categories. Also, it's really convenient how they indicate the actual savings percentage directly under the card.
Last but not least, the site even carries electronic gift cards (to be used online only; not physical retail locations) as well as mobile gift cards which can be redeemed in person using a smartphone, tablet, etc.
Verdict - Superb
Cardpool receives an A+ by the Better Business Bureau; they offer USPS free shipping and a 100-day purchase guarantee. This purchase guarantee ensures a full refund of your gift card if for whatever reason you're not satisfied. In addition, their commitment guarantees that your order will be valid at the merchant it's been purchased for, up to 100 days.
- Set brand alerts
- 100% purchase guarantee
- Free shipping
- Filter by price
- Visa and MasterCard gift cards available
- Prices set by sellers
- Some negative reviews
This fairly new company, launched in 2013 by George Bousis and Bradley Wasz, has quickly risen to the top of the ranks as one of the leading gift card exchange platforms. Whether you're looking to buy or sell gift cards, this site can help you do that with ease and convenience.
Immediately upon looking at the site we noticed that you have a number of convenient search tools at your disposal. More specifically, you can filter the options by price, card type, and category. This is really great if you are on a tight budget or looking for something very specific. Like Cardpool, you have the option to purchase physical or electronic gift cards but the prices are set by the individual sellers so the purchase price may differ from the face value.
If the card you want is out of stock you can set brand alerts and be notified when it becomes available. All purchases come with free shipping and each card is fully insured by their money-back-guarantee.
Their return policy is reasonable and covers the following:
- Inactive gift cards
- Inaccurate balances
- The wrong card from a mix-up in orders
- Cards not received within 30-days
Verdict - Great
Overall, this company has competitive offerings and a broad selection of gift cards to purchase and sell. It is important to note that Raise.com has a number of complaints floating around on sites like sitejabber.com and resellerratings.com. Some customers voiced concerns with their refund/exchange policy and an inability to settle their issue with the customer service department. At this point, we can't say whether or not those cases were resolved but the company has proactively handled 28 complaints logged with the Better Business Bureau.
- No fees
- Visa, MasterCard, and Discover certified
- Local merchants
- Customizable options
- Group gift cards
- Fewer brand name gift cards
- Some negative reviews
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Giftcards.com is a reputable source for Visa, MasterCard and other brand name gift cards.
The local merchant feature is one of the most unique things about this provider. By typing in your location, you'll be able to find local merchants (not necessarily chain stores) that offer gift cards. Say for example, you want to purchase a gift card for a relative who loves a local bakery. Just type in the bakery's zip code, and if that merchant is partnered with GiftCards.com you'll be able to purchase one for whichever amount you indicate.
Better yet, the site allows you to customize many of the gift cards with a personal photo, logo or design. Be aware though that there is a $500 limit for personalized gift cards so anything above that may need to be split into two transactions.
There are an array of pre-made designs and styles to suit any occasion-in case you don't have a creative gene. For other help with tips, questions, or ideas, the site's own 'gift card girlfriend' can offer some assistance through her blog page.
If you're looking for a particular merchant or gift card type, your best bet would be to enter the name into the search bar or otherwise browse the particular category. Some of these include:
- Beauty and spa
- Books, music, video
- Coffee houses
- Department stores
Those are just a handful of the categories to choose from. Another interesting option is the group gift card feature. This allows a group of people to log in and contribute money towards one card which is then personalized and sent to the recipient.
Verdict - Very Good
- SuperCertificates and gift cards available
- Convenient search filters
- No additional shipping charge
- Range of brands to choose from
- Returns/ exchanges accepted
- Purchase fees
- Can't sell cards
GiftCertificates.com caters to both consumers and the corporate sphere. Started in 1997, this site is known for its extensive selection of merchants and commitment to customer satisfaction. The homepage has three main categories:
- Reward-intended to offer incentives to employees, partners, and customers
- Redeem-redemption of SuperCertificates for gift cards to exclusive merchants
- Give-Gift a family member or friend your choice of a SuperCertificate or gift card
A SuperCertificate is a great gift because it allows the receiver to shop for the gift cards they want. It never expires and doesn't force you to play the guessing game which is often a hit or miss endeavor.
If you do opt for a gift card, you can narrow your search by occasion or recipient. For example, in the teens category, there are gift cards from Banana Republic, Aeropostale, Barnes & Noble, and Express, just to name a few.
You will be charged a purchase fee for both SuperCertificates and gift cards. Consumer purchase fees range from $0.99 to $3.99 while corporate purchase fees start at $2.45. Luckily, however, the service fee should cover the cost of shipping and processing so you won't face any extra charges on that front (unless you opt for expedited shipping).
GiftCertificates.com is a suitable resource for both corporate buyers and consumers. While you can't sell your own personal gift cards, you can find some great discounts on popular merchants and retailers.
Verdict - Good
- Large inventory of retailers and brands
- Customizable options
- No expiration on cards
- No fees after purchase
- Can't sell cards
- No MasterCard gift cards
- Shipping fee on select purchases
You may have seen their kiosks in one of the 180,000 retail stores that they partner with. GiftCardMall.com, operated by Blackhawk Network Holdings, offers consumers the gift cards they want from names like Amazon.com, The Home Depot, and other Visa affiliates.
The homepage is very simple. Underneath the search bar there are only three tabs:
- Buy Gift Cards
- Visa Gift Cards
- For Business
As you can see there's no tab to sell cards, which will disappoint some individuals. The biggest selling feature GiftCardMall.com offers is its ability to customize gift cards with a photo or other one-of-a-kind image. With that being said, they do charge a shipping fee for Visa gift cards exceeding $250 and a purchase fee for all cards. In relation to the other sites who don't charge either of those fees, this strikes us as a big negative.
Another huge disadvantage is the fact that they don't accept returns. All sales are final once purchased, according to the site.
Verdict - Good
We don't have a ton to say about this site because it's offerings are somewhat basic. You can purchase Visa gift cards as well as bulk orders for employees or business partners. Keep in mind, however, that you will pay a purchase fee on each card and all sales are final. Considering how lenient some of the other sites are with their return policy, it is mind boggling that GiftCardMall.com doesn't even permit exchanges, let alone refunds.
Each one of these sites has their pros and cons. Remember to always check a site's fees and shipping policy before purchasing to avoid any unpleasant surprises. A few of these online gift card companies have negative user reviews but it's important to remember that you're only getting one side of the picture so don't write-off a provider from that alone.
Gift Cards FAQs
What should I do with unwanted gift cards?
Gift cards are great in last minute situations or if you have no knowledge of someone's likes. If you are the recipient of a gift card and don't foresee yourself using it, it may be best to give it to a friend or relative. Certain stores will put an expiration date on their cards and while some may be valid for years, they will still expire if not used in a certain period of time. Aside from giving it away, the next best option would be to sell the gift card though an online gift card marketplace. Cardpool.com is one such resource and boasts payments up to 92% for your unwanted cards.
Can a gift card be transferred to another individual?
Most gift cards are not binding to one specific person so a transfer between individuals would be relatively easy. Most stores know that the user was not the original purchaser, since they're typically given as gifts. A lot of stores do not require ID when using a gift card unless the gift card is used to purchase alcohol or other items which require the buyer to be of a certain age. The one exception to Visa or MasterCards. These can be purchased with a particular individual's name and even a customized photo. If you've received this type of gift card, then you'll need to check the card's specific terms and agreements regarding transfers.