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The Best Gift Cards to Buy This Holiday Season

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Nadya So / iStock.com

One of the best gifts to give someone for the holidays is a gift card. That’s because it’s what most people have wanted for the past decade and a half, according to the National Retail Federation.

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But, how do you pick the right card? If you plan to buy gift cards this holiday season, avoid the worst gift cards and consider these picks instead.

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Amazon

It’s hard to go wrong with a gift card from the retailer that ranks as the favorite consumer e-commerce website — Amazon. Versatility and range are the big pluses of this gift card.

“You can buy almost anything on Amazon,” said Shelley Hunter, who is known as the Gift Card Girlfriend at GiftCards.com. You can also purchase gift cards in any amount ranging from $1 to $2,000, so it’s a great option for budget-conscious buyers and big spenders alike.

Additionally, Amazon gift cards have no fees and never expire. You can send a plastic gift card by mail with free, one-day shipping, print out a card or send an e-gift card — which can be animated or personalized with a photo — by email or text message.

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Walmart

A Walmart gift card is a good bet because the big-box retailer sells a wide variety of great deals online and in thousands of locations across the country, said Kendal Perez, a former savings expert for Coupon Sherpa. You can give an e-gift card or a plastic card valued between $5 and $500.

Not only can Walmart gift cards be used in stores and online, but they are also redeemable at Sam’s Club and Vudu.com. They have no fees and never expire. Plus, unlike with some gift cards, you can get your Walmart cards shipped for free if you purchase them online.

As a bonus, Walmart gift card recipients can easily resell unwanted cards. In fact, Walmart gift cards have high resale values and typically fetch 90 percent of their face values based on prices listed on Gift Card Granny, said Perez.

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Target

A gift card from this big-box retailer is a good choice because Target sells such a variety of things, said Hunter. You can buy Target gift cards in the store, online or at other retailers, and purchase them in amounts ranging from $5 to $500 for plastic, mobile and e-gift cards.

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Best Buy

A Best Buy gift card is great for electronics enthusiasts — especially because Best Buy will match its competitors’ prices, said Perez. Gift card recipients can take advantage of that policy to make sure they’re getting the best prices.

Best Buy gift cards can be purchased in stores and online in amounts ranging from $15 to $500. Plus, an e-gift card can be personalized with a message and photo.

Plastic gift cards purchased online ship for free, and gift card orders of $25 or more qualify for free, two-day shipping. And if you’re a My Best Buy member, you’ll get rewards points for gift card purchases.

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Nordstrom

“Nordstrom is a great gift card for fashion lovers who want access to both midline and luxury styles,” said Perez. Plus, the department store’s free shipping policy makes it easy for gift card recipients to use their cards for online purchases without worrying about paying extra for shipping. Gift cards can also be used at Nordstrom Rack, its website and the Hautelook website.

Nordstrom gift cards can be purchased in stores, online and by phone in amounts ranging from $5 to $2,000. Plastic gift cards bought online ship for free, and you can send e-gift cards by email. As an added benefit, Nordstrom donates 1 percent of its gift card sales to nonprofit organizations.

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Kohl’s

Kohl’s sells a range of products from clothing to electronics and even furniture, making it a great gift to give to someone so they have a variety of things to choose from.

Kohl’s gift cards can be bought and used in stores or online. Gift cards purchased online ship for free, and you can send an e-gift card if you prefer. Kohl’s gift cards’ maximum value is $300.

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Gap

The biggest benefit of buying a Gap gift card is that it can also be used at Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta stores and websites. You can buy traditional or electronic gift cards in amounts ranging from $10 to $500.

Gift cards purchased online ship for free. And e-gift cards can be customized with photos and messages at no charge.

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Starbucks

“Everyone’s favorite chain coffee shop represents a great gift card for java lovers since it comes with perks,” said Perez. Starbucks gift cardholders can register their cards and reload them for continued use and other benefits as part of the Starbucks Rewards program.

You can buy Starbucks gift cards in stores and online in amounts ranging from $5 to $100 or send e-gift cards by email. Cards are accepted at most Starbucks locations in North America, including those in airports and grocery stores, and online. There are no fees, and the cards never expire.

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Home Depot

This home improvement retailer’s gift card can be bought and used in stores and online. You can buy plastic and electronic gift cards in amounts ranging from $5 to $2,000.

For your convenience, gift cards purchased online ship for free in two to 10 business days. And an e-gift card can be personalized with a message, photo and video at no charge. Home Depot gift cards are reloadable in stores and online, have no fees and never expire.

©Lowe's

Lowe’s

Builders usually have a preference between Home Depot and Lowe’s. Luckily Lowe’s gift cards come in any amount between $5 and $2,000 and can be purchased or used in stores and online.

Plastic cards purchased online ship for free, or you can send an electronic version with a personal message.

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Visa

Visa Gift Cards can be used as a regular credit card on pretty much anything the recipient wants to spend it on. They come in any amount from $10 to $500 and can be purchased as a plastic card or an e-card. These gift cards can also be put into your phone to be used as contactless payment.

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Any Gift Cards From Discount Sites

Here’s a little-known secret: Before you buy any of the previously mentioned gift cards straight from the retailer, check sites such as CardCash, Raise and Gift Card Granny. These sites sell gift cards at a discounted price compared to retailers or give you cash back, which means you can save up to 35% on gift cards.

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