Bargains and Burgers Lead the Wish List
When it comes to getting gift cards for Christmas, people aren't picky. The annual survey from GiftCardRescue.com of the most popular gift cards is led by familiar names. Wal-Mart, Target, and McDonald’s are the top three, with Amazon.com and the Home Depot rounding out the top five. It may not be thinking outside the box, but it means people are still searching for a good buy, according to shopping expert Kathy Spencer, who runs the website howtoshopforfree.net. "They are looking to spend less versus wanting the Pottery Barn or the high-end things," she tells KTRH. "In this economy, I think it's just harder to look for the bigger purchases this year at Christmas."
Somewhat surprising is the high ranking of McDonald's, along with fellow fast-food chains Subway and Wendy's in the top 20 for gift cards. Spencer sees that as more of a youth phenomenon. "I don't think that's something I'd give my mother-in-law, she might get offended, so I think it varies by age," she says. While brick-and-mortar businesses dominate the list, two online companies, Amazon and eBay, both made the top ten for gift cards. Still, Spencer says it's usually better to redeem gift cards in a store rather than online in order to save more. "You're better off in the store because you can use manufacturers' coupons to stack on top of all the deals you're getting, then pay whatever you owe after that with a gift card."
Finding popular gift cards is easy, whether going to the businesses themselves or on one of the many gift card racks that are now common at stores everywhere. Spencer says if you want to maximize the purchase, where you buy the gift card is as important as which one you buy. "Don't always go right to the store where you want to buy it, look for other places that are going to give you an incentive to get something extra on top of that." For instance, she notes that some stores offer a free five-dollar gift card for you if you purchase one for someone else. Her biggest no-no when it comes to gift cards: never give somebody one with a partial amount or that has already been used. That can give the appearance of "re-gifting."