Think Gift Cards This Holiday Season

How many gifts do you have in the back of your closet that you just can’t bring yourself to part with? Maybe you’re so fond of your Aunt Lee that you’d never dream of hurting her feelings by donating that sweater, complete with reindeer and a Santa applique, that she gave you last Christmas. Or, maybe you don’t want that awkward moment when your mom says “Oh, hey, go get that dancing Santa I got you a few years ago” and you realize that singing Santa made its exit faster than the Christmas tree that year.

Tell the truth – you’ve had “those” gifts before, right? This year, why not spare your favorite cousin the frustration and awkwardness of being forced to try on your gift of designer jeans that she loves, but because you haven’t seen her in a few years and wasn’t aware of changes in her life, are too small now that she’s had twins. Give her the ultimate gift: a gift card.

Besides the fact that a gift card allows the receiver to choose whatever her heart desires as a gift from you, it can also serve as a golden opportunity that allows your cousin to use that gift card in any way she sees fit. Maybe she’s recovering from a job loss and that gift card will come in handy because her twins need new coats or maybe she takes the Wal Mart gift card from Grandma and stocks up on groceries.

These gems are ideal because often, it does far more than give someone the “free money” sense, but instead, allows them to use it in any way they choose, even when it’s not used to buy impractical new CDs or a diamond watch. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

With that in mind, here are a few great gift cards that will offer versatility (because they can be used anywhere) and anonymity (your best friend doesn’t have to admit she’s struggling to buy groceries). One look at the current economic climate tells us there are many more who are struggling than there are those living with no worries at all about their finances. In fact, some gift cards can be used to pay utility bills or even their credit card bills.

AMEX Gift Card

This makes a great gift. First, it can be customized with the recipient’s name if you wish and, if you already have an American Express, you can use your rewards points to purchase it. No limits on where (provided the merchant or company accepts AMEX) or how it can be used and there’s no expiration date. It’s easily replaced if it’s lost or stolen and there are no fees your recipient must pay to activate it or use it. It can be purchased for amounts from $25 up to $3000.

WalMart MoneyCard

OK, we said the cards on this list could be used anywhere, but to not include the Wal Mart gift card just doesn’t seem right. After all, there’s not much we can’t buy at Wal Mart, right? From groceries to landscaping materials to baby items to jewelry, Wal Mart is the first choice for consumers around the nation. But here’s the deal: this Wal Mart/MasterCard co-branded card and be used anywhere MasterCard debit is accepted. This card has no issuance fees, no bank account required and the recipient can even enroll online to first, receive a 1% discount when it’s used to buy gas purchases at Wal Mart partners and second, to make it a reloadable option. There’s really no downside to this prepaid debit card and most importantly, it makes a great gift.

Western Union Money Wise

This prepaid card offers free activation, very affordable fees and it too has a reloadable option for the recipient. You can easily add funds anytime, meaning it might make a great Christmas gift, but when birthday season or graduation comes around, adding more money instantly is no problem. Those who receive the card can even link their bank accounts to it and enroll in direct deposit. Not only that, but with MasterCard’s Zero Liability protection program, all purchases are covered if they’re lost, stolen or damaged. Be sure to check the terms and conditions for the specifics of the program.

As you can see, it’s never been easier to give cash as a gift, just be sure to add it to a prepaid gift card so that the recipient can make the most of your thoughtfulness.

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