The Best Gift Cards to Give Your Friends and Loved Ones

Gift Cards

Gift cards have become a bonafide rage in the last few years. In fact, the National Retail Federation estimates 15 percent of Valentine's Day spending in 2013 will be on gift cards. That's not surprising since gift cards are a great way to give money without the tackiness of just handing over an envelope of cash.

The hard part is knowing exactly which gift card to give for different types of people. We've shortcut your work by providing this handy reference guide to buying the best gift cards for your friends and loved ones. As a further assist, we've included the average discounts you'll find when purchasing a specific gift card.

FOR WOMEN

If you're a guy, no matter how hard you try, finding the perfect present for your wife, girlfriend or even mom is a challenge. Instead of winging it, pick up one of these gift cards that are great for the ladies you love.

sephora shoes gift cardSephora
Average discount: 13%
Beauty products are necessities women love to receive and most men fail to understand. Instead of attempting to select the perfect fragrance or body lotion, get her a gift card to Sephora where she can select from hundreds of her favorite brands of makeup, fragrance and hair products.

williams sonoma gift cardWilliams-Sonoma
Average discount: 10%
While gifting the woman in your life a vaccuum cleaner or other household product may not end well for you, you can never go wrong with a gift card to Williams-Sonoma. Whether it's a new dutch oven or the latest edition of her favorite baking book, enabling her to select what she wants from the high-end retailer will ensure a happy ending. 

payless shoes gift cardPayless Shoes
Average discount: 15%
When did shoes become a female obsession? Perhaps when so many styles became available. Whatever the cause, most women would find a Payless Shoes gift card just the right fit.

barnes and noble gift cardBarnes & Noble 
Average discount: 14%
According to a study by the Associated Press, women read more fiction than men, but that doesn't mean they don't turn to a good self-help book or computer manual when needed. For example, expectant moms will want their own copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." (The book that is, not the movie.)

nfl shop gift cardSpa Finder
Average discount: 13%
What woman doesn't love a nice massage, manicure or other form of pampering? If the woman in your life rarely takes time for herself, this is one gift card she'll greatly appreciate.

coldwater creek gift cardColdwater Creek
Average discount: 15%
Sophisticated women of a certain age will love the style of clothing and accessories offered by Coldwater Creek, but it's the quality that really brings them back. 

FOR MEN

If Dad has you stumped or you can't get a straight answer from your husband about what he really wants, these are a few of the best gift cards to give to the man in your life.

bass pro shops gift cardBass Pro Shops
Average discount: 14%
Spring and summer are fast approaching, making a gift card to Bass Pro Shops the perfect present for the man in your life who enjoys the great outdoors. In addition to a great selection of the best outdoor gear and products, Bass Pro Shops sponsors promotional events such as the Great American Boat Show, making a visit to your local outlet an experience in of itself.

dicks sporting goods gift cardDick's Sporting Goods
Average discount: 13%
Whether it's soccer, football, fishing or golfing, Dick's Sporting Goods has all the gear for his favorite athletic pastime.   


home depot gift cardHome Depot
Average discount: 7%
This one's a no brainer; Men who like working around the house may appreciate being able to finally buy that power tool they've lusted after.

lowes gift cardLowe's
Average discount: 7%
Some guys are into Home Depot and some are more the Lowe's type. It's up to you to figure it out.

cabelas gift cardCabela's
Average discount: 11%
Is your man into fishing, hunting, camping or hiking? Whatever his outdoor enthusiasm, Cabela's has something to offer that should suit his needs.

nfl shop gift cardNFL Shop
Average discount: 14%
Help your guy show support for his favorite football team with one of the new NFL jerseys from Nike. Or he might just settle for a logo-emblazoned cap.


FOR TEEN GIRLS

Is there a demographic that's any harder to shop for than teen girls? If someone you know is especially picky with their purchases, these gift cards are some of the safest choices.

amc theaters gift cardAMC Theatres
Average discount: 16%
Movies are targeted at teens these days, so why not make it easier on their wallets by gifting them with a card for AMC Theatres. They're also good for purchases at the concession stand.

old navy gift cardOld Navy
Average discount: 11%
What girl wouldn't squeal when receiving a gift card to Old Navy. They've got all the latest fashions. Actually, they kind of set the fashions themselves.

forever 21 gift cardForever 21
Average discount: 11%
This is one clothing store that knows its target audience. There are tons of teen vlogs (video blogs) dedicated to shopping hauls from Forever 21.

bath and body works gift cardBath & Body Works
Average discount: 11%
It costs a lot to keep a young lady in shampoo, conditioner, lotions and all the other pampering tools they crave. Give your teenager a chance to buy her own stuff...then maybe there will be some conditioner left for you.


FOR TEEN BOYS

While they might not want to be seen with you at the movies, teen boys usually keep shopping pretty simple. Video games, fast food and electronics are all great options, making these some of the best gift cards to give the teenager in your life.

ganestop gift cardGameStop
Average discount: 10%
Does the teen boy in your life have carpal tunnel syndrome from playing endless games? Then this is the gift card for him.

best buy gift cardBest Buy
Average discount: 6%
Breathes there a teenager that couldn't use a few more electronics? If they can't wait for a GameStop shipment or are saving up for the latest smartphone, Best Buy is always a good fall back.

burger king gift cardBurger King
Average discount: 5%
Burger King or McDonalds...it's kind of like Coke or Pepsi. Choose carefully and you'll make your young man happy.

chipotle gift cardChipotle
Average discount: 8%
Filling a teenager's stomach is like filling the Grand Canyon. There's always room for more, but a giant Chipotle burrito should last them until dinner.


FOR TEACHERS

Since teachers spend the whole year giving to others, take the opportunity to give back with a few of these gift cards that are best for teachers.

starbucks gift cardStarbucks
Average discount: 14%
Keep your teacher fueled up with plenty of coffee. And if they don't like caffeine, they can always buy a Starbucks' music CD.

spa wish gift cardSpa Wish
Average discount: 14%
Redeemable at over 4,000 salons and spas across the country, a Spa Wish gift card is sure to be a hit with overworked female teachers. But guys can appreciate a good massage or haircut.

office depot gift cardOffice Depot
Average discount: 8%
Thanks to diminishing budgets, lots of teachers end up buying classroom supplies with their own money. Show them how much you appreciate their efforts by shouldering some of the burden.

itunes gift cardiTunes
Average discount: 6%
Who doesn't need a little music in their lives?


FOR GRANDPARENTS

Sure, Grandma and Grandpa might claim they don't want any more presents, but who doesn't love a good gift? If you're having trouble deciding what they'd enjoy, consider some of these gift cards for your grandparents.

walmart gift cardWalmart
Average discount: 2%
Many retirees are living on tight budgets these days. If that's the case, a Walmart or Sam's Club card should come in handy.

cinemark gift cardCinemark
Average discount: 10%
Combine a gift card, senior discount and matinee ticket and you've got one inexpensive form of entertainment. Remember gift cards are also good for the concession stand.

michaels gift cardMichael's
Average discount: 22%
It's a bit of a stereotype, but grandmothers who knit one and pearl two -- or simply like to scrapbook -- would appreciate a gift card from Michael's.

melting pot gift cardMelting Pot
Average discount: 11%
Treat the grand "˜rents to a nice dinner out that's also a lot of fun. Melting Pot allows them to enjoy a memorable, four-course dining experience that combines fondue and fun.

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Thanks for these suggestions of the best gift cards. I have tons of birthdays coming up over the summer, and am keeping it simple by giving out gift cards.

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