Helping people buy gift cards for kids is one of my favorite things to do. I’m often asked, “What are the best gift cards for kids?” For me, that’s a two-part answer. First, you have to understand the types of gift cards that work well for kids such as eGift cards they can redeem without needing mom to go with them or dollar values that are spendable without chipping in additional money. Once you understand how kids use gift cards, you can easily pick one that meets the criteria. I love this topic so much, I did a study on kids and gift cards last year to find out even more.
Below is my list of the 10 Best Gift Cards for Kids and why I think these merchants make the list. Then read below for a more general discussion on kids and gift cards.
1. Happy Gift Cards
If you’re not sure what gift card to buy for kids this holiday season, check out the new Happy Cards. Each card is usable at a curated line of stores and restaurants all designed around a particular theme. Kids and parents can use this gift card at any one of the locations listed on the card–and the card can be used at more than one. For example, with a Happy Dining gift card, you can use part of the balance to go to dinner and the remainder of the gift card to buy a smoothie afterwards.
2. Streaming Apps and Music
Meeting all four of the criteria listed below, iTunes and Spotify gift cards can be purchased in spendable dollar amounts, are easily accessible, offer a range of music, movies and apps for a variety of tastes and ages, and mom won’t mind cashing it out if needed. Plus, kids can put these gift cards to work right away, downloading music and games instantly.
3. Visa or Mastercard
Gift cards that can be used anywhere are wonderfully convenient because kids can shop locally or online at any place Visa is accepted. You can even make your own gift card with the child’s image, name, and a special message. I’ve made personalized gift cards for each of my kids, and, even though they spent the money right away, they kept their cards afterwards.
4. Target Gift Cards
Also meeting the criteria below, Target, Walmart, and other large merchants have a variety of products in all price categories and have stores everywhere (including online) so these gift cards are fairly easy for kids to enjoy. They can shop for toys, games, clothes, treats and more.
5. Movie Gift Card
A gift card to the local theater or a Fandango gift card that can be used at almost any theater is a good choice for kids. I like to put at least $20 on a movie gift card to cover admission plus popcorn. Deliver with a pack of theater candy that the child can enjoy immediately or save for the movie.
6. Sporting Goods
If you have a sporty guy or gal on your list, then a gift card to Nike, Foot Locker, or a local sporting goods store is a good choice. Don’t underestimate the importance of the amount. My son loves the Nike Elite socks, but a $20 gift card only buys one pair. Shoes are costly and so are the clothes. But kids love these brands so go for it if you put a usable amount on the card.
7. BONUS: Toy Stores
People always ask me why I don’t have toy stores on the very top of the list. The reason is that I have taken my kids shopping with toy store gift cards and it can be an overwhelming experience–we’re talking literally about having a “kid in a candy store.” So if you want to get a toy store gift card, then read my tips on “How to Help Kids Redeem Gift Cards (without the meltdowns!)” before you go.