The 10 Most-Wanted Gift Cards - and Why You Want Them

Large selection of gift cards on display at Wal-Mart store in Austin, Texas, USA
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Bob Daemmrich Photography/Alamy
By Kathryn Tuggle

Gift cards fit so nicely in greeting cards and Christmas stockings, it's easy to see why they're so popular. The average shopper is expected to spend more than $170 on gift cards this year, and for the eighth year in a row they're the most-wanted item on everyone's list, with 62 percent of consumers asking for one, according to

If you're unsure which ones may work for everyone on your list, look no further. Here's a look at the top 10 most-searched-for gift cards this year and what to look out for when buying. Digital gift cards can be used online, directly from the recipient's mobile phone or printed out and used in-store.

1. Visa (V)

Visa gift cards are hot this year because they're "universal purpose," says Jill Gonzalez, spokeswoman for WalletHub. "You can shop anywhere and buy anything. Beware that unlike store cards, general-purpose cards often charge an activation fee, usually around $5.95. This fee is paid at the time of purchase and is in addition to the gift card value, so a $100 Visa gift card would cost the buyer $105.95. "Those fees are how they turn a profit," Gonzalez says.

2. Amazon (AMZN)

"A lot of people are opting for Amazon cards because they offer the recipient a chance to get anything they want, without the fees associated with a Visa or American Express gift card," she says.

3. iTunes (AAPL)

Know someone who loves music or constantly needs more lives on "Candy Crush?" ITunes gift cards may be the solution. "Anyone with friends or children who tend to rack up those in-app purchases know what a great gift this can be," Gonzales says.

4. American Express (AXP)

American Express cards can be used for any purchase, but "American Express isn't accepted everywhere, so that's why we saw Visa cards slightly more popular this year," Gonzales says.

5. Netflix (NFLX)

Netflix gift cards can be used toward a new Netflix subscription or toward purchases on a preexisting account, Gonzales says. "Especially now that Netflix does original programming, they've got fans in every age group," she says. "'House of Cards' has fans who are in college and fans who are grandparents."

6. Walmart (WMT)

"They're everywhere," Gonzales says of Walmart. "It's a universal store for people to stop in. It's convenient for people to purchase the cards, and whoever you're buying it for will likely have one nearby."

7. Target (TGT)

As with Walmart cards, Target gift cards are a great "universal" gift. "Don't forget about e-commerce," Gonzales says. "You can also use these cards online and have your purchases shipped."

8. Google (GOOG) Play

Just like iTunes gift cards, Google Play cards can be put towards music, movies, apps and in-app purchases. "It's the ultimate digital gift card," she says. "This is the kind of card that they may not use right away, but they're going to be using throughout the year."

9. EBay (EBAY)

EBay gift cards are "popular for people who seek out those rare items," she says. "You're not going to find a vintage 1960s toaster at Walmart or on Amazon."

10. Starbucks (SBUX)

Starbucks cards can be quickly transferred to your mobile device and used with the Starbucks app. "It's almost not cool to have a plastic card anymore," she says. "Starbucks, iTunes and Chipotle (CMG) cards can all be used right from your phone."
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