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Retail gift cards

Credit Cards » Best Gift Cards

Gift cards are getting cheaper to buy and they offer more protections. That's the conclusion drawn from Bankrate's 2015 Gift Card Survey, which found a decline in the number of cards that charge purchase fees and an increase in the number of cards that offer loss and theft protection.

Gift card with gold bow in a box © iStock

Using data we collected Sept. 14-21, 2015, we looked at the terms and features of 60 different gift cards, including general purpose cards, store-branded retail cards, restaurant cards, airline cards and gas station cards.

Using the chart below, you can compare these cards to find the one that suits your needs based on factors such as the amount you can load onto the card or whether it can be purchased on and downloaded to a smartphone. This way, everyone comes out a winner this season.

Select card features:
  • Expires
  • Inactivity fee
  • Loss/theft protection
  • PIN available
  • Reloadable
  • Mobile/e-card
  • Online balance check
  • Card shipped free
  • Purchase fees
  • Rewards

  • 7-Eleven

    • No purchase fee.
    • No PIN available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Card is reloadable. Maximum load is $100.
    • Not available in mobile/e-card.
    • Balance can be checked online.
  • Amazon.com

    • No purchase fee.
    • No PIN available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Reloadable, in-store only.
    • Mobile/e-card version requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free 1-day shipping of physical gift cards in contiguous 48 states; shipping charges added in HI, AK.
    • Loading limits: $15-$100 (purchased in store); $1-$2,000 (purchased through email, Facebook, or printed); $50-$2,000 (cards in a gift box purchased online).
  • Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy

    • No purchase fee.
    • No PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available. If card or email is lost, only the remaining balance can be transferred to another card/e-card number (no protection against any amounts used).
    • Reloadable, in-store only.
    • Available in mobile/e-card. Requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free shipping.
    • Loading limits: $10-$500 online. May purchase other amounts by calling 1-888-BR-STYLE.
  • Barnes & Noble

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Reloadable.
    • Available in mobile/e-card. Requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Shipping fee: $0.95
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Reloadable in-store; e-cards are not reloadable.
    • Available in mobile/e-card. Requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping. Expedited shipping fee: $5.
    • Loading limits: $25-$200 (gift card); $5-300 (e-card).
  • Best Buy

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Reloadable in-store only.
    • Available in mobile/e-card. Requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping. Expedited shipping: $5.99; express shipping: $8.99.
    • Loading limits: $15-$200 (gift card); $5-500 (e-card).
  • Bloomingdale's

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN not available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Gift cards are reloadable. E-cards are not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Shipping: $2.
    • Loading limits: $10-$1,000.
  • Costco

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Reloadable.
    • Not available in mobile/e-card.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping (USPS). Express FedEx: $7.
    • Loading limits: $25-$1,000.
    • Cash cards can be used until empty without membership requirement.
  • CVS

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Gift card reloadable; e-card is not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $5-$150.
  • Dick's Sporting Goods

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available. Balance on card/e-card can be transferred to another card.
    • Gift card reloadable; e-card is not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $50-$500 (gift card); $5-$1,000 (e-card).
  • Dillard's

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Gift card reloadable; e-card is not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $10-$1,000 (gift card); $10-$250 (e-card).
  • eBay.com

    • No purchase fee.
    • No PIN available.
    • Lost, stolen or damaged gift cards will not be replaced except in limited circumstances or where required by law, and only if the gift card has never been used (and with proof of purchase as required by PayPal). No fees apply. If you have already used a portion of your gift card, the remaining balance is attached to your eBay account and can be applied to future purchases, even if you lost the card.
    • Not reloadable.
    • E-card code is sent to the purchaser's email address.
    • To use an eBay gift card, recipient must have eBay and PayPal accounts linked to a bank account or credit card. Must also have a U.S. shipping address to redeem the gift card.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Loading limits: $25-$500.
  • Home Depot

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping; $6 (express).
    • Loading limits: $10-$500 (online, plastic); $5-$2,000 (in-store, plastic); $25-$500 (e-card).
  • iTunes

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $25, $50, $100 (online); $10-$500 (in-store).
  • JCPenney

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Gift card is reloadable; e-card is not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $10-$250.
  • Kmart

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Gift card is reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $10-$500.
  • Kohl's

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Gift card is reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $10-$100 (gift card); $5-$250 (e-card).
  • Kroger

    • No purchase fee except for Visa gift card: $5.95.
    • PIN available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Gift card is reloadable.
    • Mobile/e-card available.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $10-$250.
  • Lowe's

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Gift card is reloadable; e-card is not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number. E-card has to be printed to use.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $5-$500 (gift card); $10-$250 (e-card).
  • Macy's

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Gift card is reloadable; e-card is not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • E-card's balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $10-$1,000.
    • E-card has to be printed to use in-store. Can use code for online purchases.
  • Marshall's/TJ Maxx

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Gift card is not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $25-$200 (gift card); $10-$500 (e-card).
  • Meijer

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Only cards bought in-store are reloadable.
    • Not available as e-card.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $5-$500.
  • Nordstrom

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Gift card is reloadable; e-card is not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number. E-card must be printed or scanned from smartphone for use in-store.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $20-$2,000 (gift card;) $5-$2,000 (e-card).
  • Office Depot

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available for e-card only.
    • Not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number. E-card cannot be used in stores.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $10-$200 (gift card;) $5-$500 (e-card).
    • Rewards available with registration in the rewards program. Program number will be needed at time of purchase.
  • Overstock.com

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping.
    • Loading limits: $10-$1,000.
  • Publix

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN not available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Reloadable.
    • Not available in mobile/e-card.
    • Balance can't be checked online.
    • Free shipping.
    • Loading limits: $5-$500.
  • Rite Aid

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN not available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Not reloadable.
    • Not available in mobile/e-card.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Can only be purchased in-store.
    • Loading limits: $5-$500.
  • Saks Fifth Avenue

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping; $6.99 (expedited shipping); $8.99 (premium shipping).
    • Loading limits: $10-$500.
  • Sears

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping; $6.99 (expedited shipping); $8.99 (premium shipping).
    • Loading limits: $10-$500.
  • SpaFinder.com

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free shipping.
    • Loading limits: $25-$500 (gift card and e-card); $300-$500 in increments of $50 (e-card).
  • Staples

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Only plastic card is reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Shipping fee: $1.99.
    • Loading limits: $25-$100 (gift card); $5-$500 (e-card).
  • Target

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Plastic card is reloadable. E-card is not reloadable unless converted to mobile. E-cards can only be used online unless converted to mobile.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free shipping.
    • Loading limits: $5-$1,000 (gift card). Some cards have a max of $200.
  • Toys R Us

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Plastic card is reloadable; e-card is not reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free shipping on any order over $19.
    • Loading limits: $10-$1,000.
  • Walgreens

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN not available.
    • Loss/theft protection available.
    • Reloadable.
    • Not available in mobile/e-card.
    • Online balance check only availablefor in-store credit card, not on purchased gift cards.
    • Free shipping.
    • Loading limits: $5-$500 (in-store cards); $25-$100 (online).
  • Wal-Mart

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN not available.
    • No loss/theft protection.
    • Reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Loading limits: $10-$1,00 (in-store cards); $5-$200 (e-card).
  • Whole Foods Market

    • No purchase fee.
    • PIN available.
    • A gift card cannot be replaced if lost or stolen. Gift cards should be treated like cash. For this reason, Whole Foods advises using UPS for shipping because it is more secure. Under certain circumstances, and if the card has not been redeemed, Whole Foods may be able to reissue a card if you have your gift card number and proof of purchase. Lost physical cards will be replaced with e-cards.
    • Reloadable.
    • E-card requires email or phone number.
    • Balance can be checked online.
    • Free standard shipping (USPS).
    • Loading limits: $20-$500 (online); $5-$500 (in-store).

Source: Bankrate.com

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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Product Rate Change Last week
Balance Transfer Cards 18.49% --0.00 18.49%
Cash Back Cards 17.15% --0.00 17.15%
Low Interest Cards 12.45% --0.00 12.45%
 
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