Almost everybody would rather pick out their own gift instead of depend on the judgement of another, no matter how well intentioned. That’s why gift cards are the most sought after type of Christmas present for the ninth year in a row, based on data from the National Retail Federation, with close to 60% of U.S. consumers expecting to receive one this year.
That said, not all gift cards are created equal, and some are simply better deals than others. Consumer financial research firm CardHub decided it was important that you have information about the most popular gift cards, as well as industry trends you can take advantage of to save some money. Keep in mind that holiday shoppers are projected to spend an average of $805 each this year, with the average gift card buyer spending over $173 on cards alone.
Most popular gift cards of 2015
The Visa Gift Card is the number one most popular gift card in 2015, and it holds a very strong average resale value of 94%. The Amazon Gift Card is second on CardHub’s list for 2015, with an average resale value of 92%. The Amex Gift Card is third on this year’s list, and it also boasts a solid 92% average resale value.
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Least popular gift cards of 2015
The Texas Roadhouse Gift card came in 48th out of 50 on CardHub’s 2015 most popular gift card list, third to last place, with an average resale value of 88%. The J C Penney Gift Card was 49th on the list, and only offered an average resale value of 85.5%. The QVC Gift Card was in last place overall, and only had an average resale value of 83%.
Most Popular Gift Cards – Four gift card tips to keep in mind
Take a look at discounted gift cards: It turns out there is an active secondary market for all kinds of gift cards. In fact, you can buy some gift cards at discounts of up to 26% at one of several online gift card exchanges.
General-purpose gift cards are the most expensive: General-purpose gift cards from Visa and American Express typically charge a number of fees because that’s the only available profit. Gift cards from major retailers do not need to charge fees, since the retailer makes a profit the moment you purchase a gift card.
Check your wallets, purses and drawers for forgotten gift cards: In a mind-boggling statistic, almost $45 billion in gift cards have ended up not being used dating back to 2005, according to TowerGroup and CardHub. Gift cards dating as far back as 2010 are still good, as the federal CARD Act prohibits a gift card from expiring within five years.
In most cases, consumers have three options when it comes to getting value out of unused gift cards. You can sell unwanted gift cards for cash (76% to 96% of face value). Most stores will also permit you to trade in old unused gift cards for new ones, so you can re-gift cards that are a bit dinged up after sitting around for years. In a little known fact, the majority of U.S. states offer programs that permit recovery of unused funds from expired gift cards using the unclaimed property laws.
Don’t pay for shipping: Last but not least, there’s no reason to pay for shipping this year. Close to one-third of gift cards from major retailers still charge for shipping, but these shipping fees can be eliminated by using a gift card search tool to find out which retailers offer free shipping and/or digital gift cards (sent via email).