When I was little, there was always a huge pile of gifts under the family Christmas tree. Today, thanks to gift cards, there’s a lot more space at the bottom of the tree.
Recent polls reveal that roughly 70% of Canadian gift buyers would rather give a gift card as a gift than cash.
The struggle is choosing what type of gift card you want to give.
If you’re unsure of which gift card to get, then you’re in the right place. Below, I’ll show you some of the best gift cards in Canada so that you can choose the most thoughtful card for the individual.
If you’re new to the trend of buying gift cards, you might be trying to figure out your options. In general, there are three types of gift cards that you’ll be able to buy:
- Retail gift cards
- Virtual gift cards
- Reloadable gift cards
I’ll give you a quick overview of each so you know which one best fits your needs.
Retail gift cards, or “closed loop” cards, are the most common type of gift card you’ll find. These are the standard gift cards issued by major retailers and brands.
They’re called closed-loop cards because each card has a unique number and a set value. Once the value of a gift card has been used up, the card is destroyed, and the number is recirculated.
Once gift cards became more popular, many consumers were mailing gift cards to recipients. If you think about it, they’re a great gift to mail since they’re small enough to fit in a standard business envelope.
There’s just one problem – mailed gift cards are easy to steal since anybody can activate them.
Virtual gift cards are a digital alternative to a standard retail gift card. Many major retailers offer virtual cards that allow you to digitally send the gift card information directly to the recipient.
Some retailers offer reloadable gift cards. These gift cards can be reloaded by the individual who has them.
For example, anybody with a Starbucks gift card can register their card with a Starbucks account and start using the card to receive points and use it as a Starbucks rewards card.
Similarly, prepaid debit cards (such as the Vanilla Card) have also become popular. These cards typically operate on the Visa or Mastercard network, allowing them to be used anywhere that credit cards are accepted.
You can also sign up for the Koho Cashback debit card today to start earning cashback on every purchase. It’s like a reloadable debit card that pays you back.
|Type of Gift Card||Description|
|Retail Gift Cards (Closed Loop)||Loaded with a specific amount, it cannot be reloaded and can only be used at the retailer that issued it.|
|Virtual Gift Cards (Closed Loop)||Loaded with a specific amount, card details are sent virtually, faster and more secure than mailing physical gift cards.|
|Reloadable Gift Card (Open Loop)||Loaded with a specific amount, it can be reloaded by the recipient.|
Reloadable debit gift cards are the simplest gift card, as they can be used almost anywhere. However, they often lack the personal touch that a meaningful gift should have. With that in mind, here are the best gift cards in Canada that will make for a thoughtful gift.
1. Amazon Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Retail stores, online, gift card exchange
- Who They’re Best For: Online shoppers, teens, and everybody else
Amazon is currently one of the largest retailers in the world. From clothing to electronics and auto parts, you can find pretty much anything on the platform.
Additionally, Amazon Gift Cards can be used to sign up for Amazon Prime Video streaming, giving the recipient even more options to use their card.
Why Amazon over a traditional retail gift card?
Simple – Amazon offers a lot more variety to the recipient and has cheaper prices than you’ll find in most retail stores. It’s perfect for anybody who’s living on a budget and trying to save money.
2. Walmart Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: In Walmart stores, online, gift card exchange
- Who They’re Best For: Parents, kids, college students
If you’re trying to stock up on essentials, there are few places where you’ll find better deals than Walmart. From cheap groceries to low-cost furniture, tools, electronics, and baby supplies, Walmart has everything that almost anybody could need.
Whether you have a college student who needs to buy groceries, a kid who wants to stock up on toys, or a spouse who wants the latest Playstation, Walmart is always a reliable choice.
Walmart gift cards can also be used on Walmart’s growing eCommerce platform. Plus, there are Walmart stores all over Canada, so the cards can be used anywhere.
3. Sephora Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Sephora stores, online, gift card exchanges
- Who They’re Best For: Teenage and adult girls
If diamonds are a “girl’s best friend,” then Sephora is a girl’s favourite store. Simply put, Sephora has one of the largest selections of high-quality makeup in North America. All of the latest designer fragrances, trending makeup brands, and organic, cruelty-free brands can be found in Sephora.
4. Home Depot Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Home Depot stores, pharmacies, gift card exchanges
- Who They’re Best For: DIYers, small business owners
A Home Depot gift card is one of the best fit cards for that independent “do-it-yourselfer” in your life.
From wood to wires, pipes, windows, paint, and plants, Home Depot has everything you could ever need to build some cool stuff. On a more practical note, Home Depot has a huge selection of name-brand tools (and who couldn’t use some extra tools?).
5. Playstation Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Playstation website, Amazon, gift card exchanges, grocery stores, pharmacies
- Who They’re Best For: Teens and gamers (if they have a Playstation)
Every year, like clockwork, my nephew asks me to buy him a Playstation gift card for his birthday. He’s been an avid gamer for as long as I can remember and is a die-hard Playstation fan.
Playstation gift cards can be purchased almost everywhere and are available in physical form or can be sent directly as a virtual gift card.
Playstation gift cards can be used to purchase in-game items as well as movies, games, and add-ons from the Playstation Network marketplace.
6. Xbox Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Microsoft online store, Amazon, gift card exchanges, pharmacies, grocery stores, game stores
- Who They’re Best For: Teens and gamers
The gamers in my family all lean towards the Sony and Playstation side of the spectrum.
However, if you know a gamer who has an Xbox or is heavy into PC gaming, then an Xbox gift card could be the perfect gift. Like Playstation gift cards, these cards are issued by Microsoft and can be purchased virtually or physically in retail stores.
7. Best Buy Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Best Buy stores, online gift card exchanges
- Who They’re Best For: Photographers, gamers, tech enthusiasts
Best Buy is one of my favourite stores to visit. Every time I go there, I always walk out with some new piece of tech, whether it’s a new smartwatch, camera, or a set of headphones.
It’s the perfect gift card to buy for tech enthusiasts. It has something for just about everybody, and you can even buy home tech such as vacuums, dishwashers, and high-tech fans.
8. Uber Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Uber app, grocery stores, gift card exchanges
- Who They’re Best For: College students, people who live in cities
Uber is one of the top side hustles in Canada, and drivers can earn anywhere from $15 to $20 per hour. It’s one of the most efficient ways to get around town without a vehicle and is usually faster than public transportation. Did you know that you can also purchase Uber gift cards for individuals?
It’s the perfect gift for college students, teens, or those who live in the city and prefer not to drive through all of the traffic. Uber gift cards can also be used for UberEats food orders.
9. DoorDash Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Amazon, DoorDash website, gift card exchanges
- Who They’re Best For: Anybody who likes to eat out
DoorDash is one of the top food courier services in Canada. It allows customers to order food from their favourite restaurants and get it delivered directly to their front door for a small surcharge.
DoorDash gift cards are always a good choice, as the recipient can redeem them at any restaurant in the DoorDash network.
10. Starbucks Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Starbucks stores, Amazon, gift card exchanges
- Who They’re Best For: Coffee enthusiasts and college students
Starbucks is one of the most popular coffee chains in the world and offers everything from hot coffee and iced frappuccinos to breakfast and lunch sandwiches.
In addition to coffee, Starbucks also has an excellent selection of herbal teas, pastries, and other non-caffeinated drinks, so everybody can find something they like, regardless of whether or not they drink coffee.
11. Cineplex Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Cineplex movie theatres, Amazon, gift card exchanges
- Who They’re Best For: Teens, movie and film enthusiasts
Movie theatres are back open after many were closed during the 2020 pandemic. Cineplex is the largest cinema brand in Canada and owns theatres across the country, in all provinces.
A cineplex gift card can be redeemed for movie tickets, popcorn, drinks, and candy at any Cineplex theatre.
12. Hotels.com Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Hotels.com website
- Who They’re Best For: Couples, business associates, parents
Hotels.com is one of the top sites in the world for finding great deals on hotels and resorts around the world.
This gift card is perfect for the frequent travellers in your life or for that one person who needs to get away for a vacation. As a digital nomad, there are few gifts more precious than the gift of travel.
13. AirBnB Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: AirBnB website, select retailers, gift card exchanges
- Who They’re Best For: Couples, frequent travellers
I regularly use AirBnB to book both short-term and long-term stays during my travels. I can tell you right now that I would be thrilled to receive an Airbnb gift card!
These gift cards can either be purchased directly from the Airbnb website or from select retail stores. The money can be redeemed towards any stay for both full and partial payments.
14. HelloFresh Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: HelloFresh website, Amazon
- Who They’re Best For: Busy professionals, college students
HelloFresh is a meal kit that gets delivered right to your door and is complete with every ingredient you need to make a full-fledged, delicious meal (including small spice packets). The company works with each customer, helping them customize portions and catering to dietary needs.
A HelloFresh gift card is a great gift for that busy professional who says they “never have time to cook.”
15. Netflix Gift Card
- Where To Get Them: Netflix website, grocery stores, gift card exchanges
- Who They’re Best For: Film enthusiasts, teens, college students
Netflix is one of the most popular streaming platforms in Canada. A Netflix gift card can be used towards a new Netflix membership or can be used as credit towards an existing membership, which means it’s good for just about anybody.
If you’re used to giving physical gifts or cash for holidays, birthdays, and bonuses, the idea of buying a gift card may seem a bit unthoughtful at first.
However, a growing number of people actually prefer gift cards to traditional physical gifts. Here are a few reasons why gift cards make for an excellent gift.
Nothing says, “I care” more than a gift card to the individual’s favourite store. It shows that you know enough about them (or researched enough about them) to know what they like instead of getting them a generic preloaded debit card.
When you give somebody cash as a gift, they’re more likely to spend it on their bills, gas, or groceries. Personally, I don’t care how my gifts are used, but I know that many people would prefer their gift be used for a memorable gift rather than unmemorable necessities.
Gift cards can, of course, be used in retail stores. However, they can also be used online, which makes them more versatile and allows the recipient to find select sizes, styles, or varieties that they may not be able to find in retail locations.
Gift cards can easily be sold online or in person. That being said, the second-hand value of a gift card is almost always a bit less than the value of the card itself.
The best place to sell gift cards is through an online gift card exchange. Many people can receive up to 85% or more of their gift card’s total value.
As a gift giver, gift card exchanges are a great place to purchase verified gift cards for less than their value. For example, you could purchase a $100 Best Buy gift card for $90, and save 10% on your gift.
I’d say that the best gift cards in Canada are the most versatile cards. Amazon is always a great choice, as the cards can be used for just about anything, including credit towards an existing Prime membership.
Did you know that you can get paid in gift cards for completing surveys, watching videos, and even playing video games? Keep on reading to see my list of the best paid survey sites next!