Top 24 Best Gift Cards for Employee Appreciation Presents

Are you looking for a great gift idea to recognize employees for a job well done and let them know you care? Giving gift cards for employee appreciation is one of the most popular ways to recognize your staff.

People love being recognized for their hard work. And with gift cards, you have a variety of options for employee recognition presents. They make perfect presents for employee reward programs.

Do Employees Appreciate Gift Cards?

Yes, according to research by Blackhawk Network, 69 percent of employees the company surveyed said they would love to get a gift card as a reward from their employer. They went on to say that recipients given gift cards were more likely to use them to buy something for themselves.

So, many employees appreciate gift cards when they receive them as rewards.

Types of Gift Cards

The two main categories of gift cards are open-loop and closed-loop. What are they?

Open-Loop Gift Cards

Open-loop gift cards are considered a general-purpose card that an employee can use anywhere, like a Visa or Mastercard gift card.

Closed-Loop Gift Cards

Closed-loop gift cards can only be used at a specific retailer like Amazon, Panera Bread, Macy's, etc.

There are multiple types of cards that fall under those categories, like plastic gift cards, prepaid gift cards, branded gift cards, and more.

Digital gift cards make great presents because there are no storage requirements, the delivery options are simple, and there is no waste.

Let's look at some of the best gift cards for employee appreciation programs.

1. Employee Wellness Gifts

Gift cards to local fitness centers and gyms make great employee incentives, and they show you care about your employees' wellness. Consider getting gift cards to the local gym or one's nationwide like Planet Fitness or Gold's Gym.

2. Amazon Gift Card

An Amazon gift card is a great present for employee recognition programs or holiday gifts. We don't know many people that don't use Amazon for shopping, so you don't have to worry about giving workers a card they'll never use.

You can choose to purchase traditional Amazon gift cards or Amazon eGift cards that are easy to deliver and less wasteful.

3. Visa Gift Card

Visa gift cards are considered open-loop gift cards and popular options for employee rewards. They can be used anywhere that accepts Visa credit cards.

4. Mastercard Gift Card

Mastercard gift cards are just like Visa's and can be used at any store that accepts Mastercard credit cards.

5. Apple Gift Card

For employees with iPhones and other Apple products, Apple gift cards make the perfect gift cards for employee appreciation. People can use them for in-app purchases in Games or other apps that require a subscription.

6. Olive Garden

Olive Garden is a great example of a popular branded gift card that's well-liked by many people. Because of this restaurant’s popularity, these cards make great gifts for employees.

7. DoorDash

A gift card to DoorDash makes a great present for many employees because it allows them to order from a variety of restaurants. Plus, it helps relieve the stress of cooking a meal after a busy workday.

One essential element to a successful employee rewards program is that the recipients like the gifts. Gift cards like DoorDash that provide options make great rewards.

8. Regal Gift Card

Give the gift of an experience like a movie night at the local Regal Theater. Employees can watch a movie alone or take the family out for one they've been dying to see.

9. Airbnb

Often one of the most expensive aspects of a family vacation is finding an affordable hotel or place to stay. It prevents many from going on relaxing trips that can help reduce stress.

With an Airbnb gift card, employers can cover part of an employee’s lodging expenses and help make trips more affordable.

10. Starbucks Gift Card

Just about everyone loves coffee or tea so giving employees Starbucks gift cards lets them get a special treat on you.

11. Drizly

Depending on your company values, if your remote employees can't get to employee appreciation parties, send the drinks to them. Drizly sends the drinks to you in under 60 minutes.

12. Panera Bread Gift Card

Panera Bread is another popular restaurant that is perfect for employees to grab a quick lunch. Treat them to a healthy lunch on you.

13. Applebee's Gift Card

Applebee's is another popular restaurant perfect for special occasions or a date night dinner. There's something on the menu for everyone, so most people would be happy to receive a gift card from here.

14. Best Buy

Best Buy has all your favorite brands of electronics, appliances, and more. Whether the employee needs a new computer, electronic device, or accessory, they can find it at Best Buy, so a gift card from here makes a great present.

15. Gift Cards for Books

Books always make great presents but how do you know what to buy your employees? Give them a gift card to Barnes and Noble or Audible so they can choose their own.

16. Coldstone Creamery Gift Card

Just about everyone loves ice cream, right? Cold Stone Creamery has delicious ice cream flavors like Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Cup Perfection, and more that everyone loves. There's something for everyone on the menu including frozen yogurt.

17. Container Store Gift Card

Give the gift of organization with a Container Store gift card. Employees can buy something for their work or home office or anything else that keeps them more organized and reduces stress. Life is definitely more fun when you're organized.

18. Walmart Gift Card

Like Amazon, Walmart is a popular big box store that just about everyone shops at. With a Walmart gift card, employees can buy something for the house or the office. And since gift cards to grocery stores are popular for many people, they can even use them to buy food for their families.

19. Pizza Gift Card

Who doesn't love pizza? Many employees would love to get a gift card from Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, or Domino's. They can order pizza on a busy night after work with pizza gift cards for employee appreciation.

20. Shutterfly Gift Card

Shutterfly is a great place to buy picture gifts like photo tiles, frames, customized calendars, water bottles, mugs, and much more. Employees can buy gifts for other people or themselves that they can personalize by uploading digital photos.

21. Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond has an amazing selection of home goods like cookware, comforters, towels, shower curtains, and more. Everyone loves buying nice things for their house, so a gift card here is a great reward.

22. Finish Line

There's no denying that shoes and clothing are significant expenses for many people. Especially if they need to buy special types of clothing for work like dress or casual dress attire. Finish Line has casual clothing and shoes, so it’s a great place to get gift cards for employees as buying tennis shoes for the family can be expensive.

23. Lowe's Gift Card

Lowe's has something for everyone, especially for homeowners, so a gift card here can increase employee satisfaction because you're helping them upkeep their residence. Employees can buy tools, appliances, paint, storage containers, and more even if they rent.

24. Staples Gift Card

Just about everyone has a home office or needs office supplies, so a gift card to Staples makes a great employee appreciation gift. Whether it's pens for work or computer paper for a home printer, there's something for everyone there. You can even buy household supplies like toilet paper and paper towels.


Are employee recognition gift cards taxable?

Per the IRS, the only gifts not taxable are the ones considered "de minimis," which means the value and frequency are so small that it's hard to account for. Examples of items considered de minimis are occasional snacks, coffee, donuts, holiday gifts, occasional meal money, etc.

Gift cards are easy to account for, so they are taxable. Gift certificates and gift cards fall under the same category as cash. If you only give occasional employee rewards, they likely won't be taxable but always consult with a tax professional.

So, you won’t save yourself money on taxes with gift cards for employee appreciation, but just about any present you buy will be taxable.

What are bulk gift cards?

Bulk gift cards are often sold in packs, or you can order more gift cards at a volume-based price. Often businesses with an employee rewards program will buy bulk gift cards to recognize employees with. Buying bulk gift cards for employee appreciation presents simplifies the gift-giving process for businesses.

At Gift Card Granny, we have a business-to-business offer where you can get volume-based pricing on gift cards. You can also buy eGift cards and greeting cards to go with them.

Final Thoughts on Gift Cards for Employee Appreciation

Whether you create custom rewards or give employees gift cards to popular places to shop, it's important to understand that employees like to receive tangible rewards for recognition. A verbal thank you is nice but isn't always an effective reward for a job well done.


Employee recognition programs often show that you value your workers and reward systems speak to your company culture and values. Rewarding an employee with a gift card is a great token of appreciation for their hard work.