Gift Cards for Family, Friends or Colleagues

Gift Cards for Special Occasions

Most of us know how difficult it is to come up with gift ideas for family, friends and colleagues. Even if we know and understand their desires and wants, there are far too many nuances at times to really get exactly what a person wants.

To that end, the great idea of giving a gift card as a present is an increasingly terrific way to give to family or friends for special occasions like Christmas, birthdays, graduations, among other important days in the lives of people we know and love.

And while it may seem very obvious in regard to buying someone a gift card for a gift, there are a number of things to consider when doing so.

The first is obviously buying a gift card from a place people prefer to shop. Obviously Amazon.com is among the best for acquiring general merchandise, as most people have acquired something through the Internet retail giant, and understand how it all works.

But even with Amazon there can be different ways to go about it. If you're buying for a group of people, for example, you can buy them in bulk. You can get a 10-pack set of $50 gift cards for $500, or $25 for $250.

There are also different categories of gift cards within Amazon to choose from. You can buy a gift card that comes in a nice box, or even one that targets things like MP3's.

Of course this is just a small sampling of one company. There are a lot of other places you can buy gift cards from, including Starbucks, Subway, Sephora, Cheesecake Factory, Texas Roadhouse, Applebee's, Forever 21 and American Eagle, among many others.

We'll look at a number of these gift cards to generate some ideas you may want to go with when buying gifts.

The great thing about gift cards is you can never really fail with them, as long as you know it's a place people like to buy from, or in the case of restaurants, a place they want to go to eat.

Gift Memberships

Another amazing way to buy gifts is by acquiring a membership. One that specifically comes to mind and is wildly popular is a gold membership for Xbox LIVE.

You can do that by acquiring a one-month to 12-month membership, or you can even by points for the family member or friend. You can buy from 400 points all the way up to 4,000 points.

What these points to is allow the recipient to go to Microsoft Xbox Live and use them to download content, games, trailers or demos for upcoming products. The person receiving a gift like this will know how to use it, and it includes much more than even mentioned here.

Any Xbox user and fan will be delighted to receive a gift membership.

There are similar cards available for those who prefer Sony Playstation. Video game retailer GameStop offers $25 and $50 gift cards for purchase.

Xbox Gift Membership

xbox gift membership
xbox gift membership | Source

Amazon.com Gift Cards

Other than the various options to load up a gift card from Amazon.com with, including the already mentioned acquisition of a pack of gift cards for a larger number of people, the major differentiators after that from Amazon.com cards is to customize designs and messages for those you're sending them to, assuming there are several or more individuals you're gifting them with.

Packaging can also be different, which for no extra cost you can have the card delivered in a nice looking box.

Just keep in mind that there are numerous ways to acquire multiple Amazon.com gift cards, including in even larger quantities, such as a $25 gift card available in a box of 50.

There are also a box of $5 gift cards offer in a 20-pack. You get the idea. I mention these couple so you can buy the specific type you're looking for in regard to your individual circumstance. Many consumers don't know there are so many options to choose from.

Options for Amazon gift card packs are 3, 10, 20 and 50. If you own a business you can also buy a pack of gift cards from Amazon, which requires a minimum purchase of $5,000.

You can also have the option of having the card printed out, sent in an e-mail, or offered through Facebook. This of course goes along with the option of sending the Amazon.com gift card physically to the recipient of the gift.

However you want to do it, there is an Amazon.com gift card or set of cards available for you and your gifting goals.

Another great feature is there is no expiration date, so the one receiving the gift can use it at their leisure and chosen time. And there are also no additional fees to be concerned with.

Starbucks Gift Card

Starbucks continues to be a popular destination for those wanting to take some time out and enjoy a nice beverage. To that end Starbucks offers gift cards for $25 and $50.

A nice feature of the Starbucks gift card is you reload the card at any Starbucks store that participates in the program, and you can also check the remaining balance.

Although most Starbucks stores participate, not all do, so you many want to call the Starbucks you plan on going to in order to confirm you can use the card there.

If you want to protect the balance on the card, all you have to do is register it at starbucks.com/card, and it'll be guaranteed from any losses. Assuming you've done that, the remaining balanced will be replaced when the company is notified. Be sure to keep your original card receipt.

There are no fees or expiration date associated with Starbucks gift cards.

This is an obvious great gift for anyone that goes to Starbucks on a regular basis.

Regal Entertainment Gift Cards

For moviegoers, a number of theater chains offer gift cards, including Regal Entertainment Group.

Included in the Regal family are Regal Cinemas, Edwards Theatres and United Artists Theatres. You can use the cards at any participating outlet. As always with gift cards, be sure to give a quick call to confirm they are accepted at the location nearest you. Most outlets are, but there may be an occasional exception.

You can not only use the card to watch a movie, but also towards any food or drink purchase made at the concession stand. This is a no-brainer for film fans.

Kohl's Gift Card

The fast-growing Kohl's franchise has been an increasingly popular retail outlet for consumers to go to, which of course has resulted in the store offering a gift card program.

You can use the gift card at any physical store, or go to Kohls.com and use it to purchase online.

The card can only be used for purchases, and cannot be used to pay down existing account balances at the store. Neither can it be used to acquire other gift cards from the store, or be exchanged for cash.

If the card is lost, stolen or damaged in any way, the balance will be replaced if you have proof of purchase. Be sure to keep the receipt.

When you make a purchase using the gift card, at that time the balance of the card will be shown. You can also ask someone at a store for the balance, call a toll-free number, or go online for the balance.

Sephora Gift Cards

Sephora fans would be delighted to get a gift card as a gift for a special occasion, as the beauty line has a nice brand following, and recipients of a gift card from the retail beauty store would be very appreciative of the thoughtful gift card.

Some of the brands offered by Sephora include Dior, Too Faced, Clinique and Bare Essentials.

The Sephora gift card can be used at its online location, physical outlet or catalog orders.

Gift cards from Sephora never expire, but they don't offer any protection from lost or damaged cards. With that in mind, it would be better to use the gift card as soon as possible.

For card balance you can go to www.sephora.com or call 1-877-SEPHORA.

Subway Restaurant Gift Card

The ubiquitous Subway restaurant is a favorite place to get a quick meal, with all sorts of salads, sandwiches, side orders and breakfast available for customers.

Subway has over 26,000 locations throughout North America, and is sure to have one near to someone that you know.

The restaurant chain offers gift cards for consumers, which includes a re-loadable feature and protection against lost, stolen or damaged Cards. The requirement for protection is to register at its online location - www.mysubwaycard.com. Replacement is only for the remaining balance on a card, and is only distributed if proof of purchase is on hand.

There are no fees or expiration date associated with Subway gift cards. Reward points can be accumulated by use of a Subway gift card, although the points will expire after 36 months unless the company makes an exception.

Use of the card is only at participating restaurants.

Forever 21 Gift Cards

Providing trendy fashions at good prices, Forever 21 has become a must-go shopping destination for a growing number of consumers.

This creative and enjoyable retail outlet offers a gift card for those seeking a wonderful gift for friends or loved ones.

Included in the stores that the card can be used in are Forever 21, Gadzooks, XXI Forever, For Love 21, Heritage 1981 and Reference stores. Only stores in the U.S. or territories of the U.S. will accept the card. The exception is its forever21.com website.

As with other gift cards, the Forever 21 gift card can not be used to acquire another gift card, neither an e-gift certificate.

Forever 21 will not replace a damaged, stolen or lost gift card.

Balances on the card can be checked on their web site or a physical store location.

Call (888) 494-3837 for costumer service.

AMC Gift Card

Here we have another entertainment gift card, this time in relationship to AMC theatres.

Along with AMC theatres, the gift card can also be used at Cineplex Odeon & Star, AMC Showplace, Loew's and Magic Johnson. Check the amctheatres.com site for all available locations.

You can use the gift cards for either movies and concessions. You can reload the cards at any theater location in the U.S. There are no fees or expiration dates connected to the cards.

Other than in CA, MA, and WA, the card will not be redeemed for cash.

To use the card all you have to do is present it when buying your tickets or when acquiring food or a beverage at the concession counter.

If the AMC gift card is lost, damaged or stolen, the company won't replace the remaining balance on the card.

You can check the balance of the care by texting AMC followed by the 19 digit account number to VALUE (82583). You will be charged for the texting, so you may want to keep records of your purchases and remaining balance.

American Eagle Gift Card

Those who like to shop at American Eagle are in luck, as the store offers up to $100 for a gift card.

American Eagle, which offers great clothing, personal care products and accessories and competitive prices, allows the card to be used at all American Eagle, 77kids.com, 77kids stores, Aerie, aerie.com locations.

When making online purchases, have the card and pin number available for ease of use when ready to check out. You are limited to using three cards per each transaction you make online.

Unless required by state law, the gift card won't be redeemable for cash or allowed to be applied to an existing credit account with American Eagle.

American Eagle will replace the remaining balance on a stolen, damaged or lost card. The original sales receipt must be provided to get the former card replaced.

There are no expiration dates or service fees with the gift cards.

To check your balance, you can go to ae.com or call 1.877.274.3004.

Cabelas Gift Cards

Cabelas is among the most recognizable names in the Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor gear segment of the market, and offers a gift card for those who are ardent participants in these activities.

The Cabelas gift card can be used at any Cabelas physical store, Cabelas' Catalog, or at the Cabelas Website.

Gift cards that are damaged, lost or stolen will be replaced when proof of purchase is provided. It also can be used to pay down existing credit.

Unless required by state law, the card can't be exchanged for cash. The gift card is not re-loadable.

Texas Roadhouse Gift Card

For the lover of steaks and ribs, buying them a gift card from Texas Roadhouse will give them a mouth-watering present for the special occasion being celebrated.

With a presence in 46 states, you do want to be sure to check where the nearest one is to the one you're buying it from. Of course if they're already a fan, there's sure to be one close enough to make it a very relevant gift for them.

And since the card can only be used at participating Texas Roadhouse restaurants, be sure to call and check to see if the restaurant takes the gift card.

Texas Roadhouse will replace the balance of the card if stolen, damaged or lost if you have proof of purchase.

You can not redeem the card for cash unless required by state law.

The card can't be used for online purchases from the company. Only U.S. locations will accept the card.

Check out www.texasroadhouse.com or call 1-800-TEX-ROAD for further information.

Outback Steakhouse Gift Card

Next we have another steak restaurant gift card offering, although with Outback Steakhouse you also have some great seafood and the famous and fabulous Bloomin Onion.

The Outback Steakhouse can also be used at Blue Coral, Carrabbas, Flemings, Bonefish Grill, Roys, Cheeseburger in Paradise and Lee Roy Selmons locations.

Along with any of these locations in the United States, the cards can also be redeemed in Guam or Puerto Rico.

Unless required by state law, the gift cards will not be redeemed for cash, and can not be used to acquire another gift card.

Outback Steakhouse will not replace any card that is stolen or lost.

Any questions concerning the balance of the card will be answered by calling (800) 242-5353.

Applebee's Gift Card

Applebee's is another restaurant that offers a gift card to those that patronize the business, with more of a neighborhood, hometown approach to the business.

You will need to check your local or neighborhood Applebee's to be sure it participates in accepting the card as payment.

The card can be used for acquiring a meal, or even a tip.

Be careful with the card as Applebee's doesn replace it if you lose it or have it stolen.

In cases like that, I always prefer to use the card as soon as possible after receiving it as a gift to lower the chance of damage to or loss of it.

The Cheesecake Factory Gift Card

The final gift card included in this look at businesses that offer them for gift options, we have The Cheesecake Factory, which has a wide variety of menu selections to choose from. There's a little bit of everything for everyone.

Gift cards from The Cheesecake Factory can be used for any online purchase or at any location in the United States.

In regard to some areas in the country you may not be able to use the card for alcoholic beverages. You'll want to check to be sure.

The Cheesecake Factory doesn't replace cards that are stolen or lost. The card can't be used in the state of New Mexico.

Gift Card Ideas

This list of companies offering gift cards should be a good starting point for the majority of those reading this article, as there's sure to be something for just about every taste there is out there for retail and restaurant locations and options.

If not, just click through some of the products and check out other stores that offer gift cards if there's one that won't provide the specific product or service the one you're buying for wants or prefers.

Either way, it does offer the parameters and limitations concerning gift cards, so you should be prepared to take that into account when buying.

For gift cards, I wouldn't wait until the last moment to order them, as they take a little longer many times to be delivered than other products. Ordering a few days earlier than normal should take care of that, and if you're not sure, do it a week or more before the special occasion to ensure you receive the gift card or cards on time.

Other than that, gift cards are what they are, and make outstanding gifts for those you don't know how to buy for.

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