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The Best Gift Cards for Kids

Best gift cards for kidsWith graduation season in full swing, and birthday parties filling the summer calendar, many of you will be turning to gift cards for upcoming childhood celebrations. But 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. Then pick a gift card that meets the criteria.

Best Types of Gift Cards for Kids

Gift cards for kids should meet the following criteria:

  1. Usable Dollar Amount. Kids shouldn’t have to use their own money in order to redeem a gift card nor should mom have to chip in an extra amount to cover a decent purchase. This is true for everybody, but especially true for children who may not have money in their piggy banks. Put a dollar amount on the gift card that can be easily used. If your budget is limited, then get a gift card to a store that offers low price options. For example, a 10 dollar ice cream store gift card is perfectly fine. But a 10 dollar clothing store gift card will be hard to redeem at face value.
  2. Easily Accessible. Ideal gift cards for kids can be redeemed within walking distance or a short trip in the car. If you’re not sure what stores, restaurants, or movie theaters are located near the recipient, get a gift card that can be used online or a gift card that can be used anywhere.
  3. Variety. How fun it is to shop like a big person! But the fun can quickly fade if the recipient can’t find something he or she wants to buy. Adults may be disappointed, but frustrated kid shoppers can get ugly in a hurry. Be sure the gift card you give can be redeemed for a variety of items.
  4. Bailout Bonus. For kids who need mom to take them shopping in order to redeem a gift card, selecting a merchant mom enjoys will help ensure she’s willing to take the trip to the store and could give the recipient a way to liquidate an unwanted gift card.

    My son, for example, was saving up to buy something on When he got a Target gift card for his birthday, I bought the gift card from him at face value so he could meet his goal. I have no problem cashing out gift cards that are easy for me to use. I won’t, however, cash out gift cards to the toy store or game store. The bailout option is a bonus, not a requirement.

10 Best Gift Cards for Kids

Tips on best gift cards for kidsWith the criteria all set, it’s time to talk specifics. Below is my list of the 10 Best Gift Cards for Kids.

  1. iTunes. Meeting all four criteria, iTunes 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.
  2. Target or WalMart. Also meeting the criteria, Target, WalMart, and other large merchants have a variety of products in all price categories, stores everywhere including an online option, and are easy for mom to cash out if desired.
  3. Visa Gift Card. Gift cards that can be used anywhere are wonderfully convenient because kids can shop locally or online at any place visa credit cards are accepted. You can even make your own gift card with the child’s image, name, and a special message.
  4. The only reason this gift card isn’t at the top of the list is because of shipping charges. My kids often shop Amazon within budget only to be disappointed by the shipping charges tacked on at the end or the delayed gratification that comes with pushed out delivery dates on the free shipping option.
  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 if the gift card has about $20 on it to pay for admission and snacks.
  6. ColdStone, Baskin Robbins, or a local Ice Cream Store. Kids enjoy buying treats for themselves and may even spring for the rest of the family with this gift card. Low dollar amounts are usable. Just be sure the location is accessible because online isn’t an option and mom may not be inclined to cash out a gift card she doesn’t want either. Same goes for Frozen Yogurt shops.
  7. Subway, In-n-Out Burger, Taco Bell and other fast foods. Provided mom is okay with fast food, these gift cards are fun for tween and teen kids to receive. My daughter is obsessed with Taco Bell (please don’t ask me why). She received a $20 gift card to Taco Bell, has been there four times, and still has money left on the gift card.
  8. Favorite Clothing Store. Clothing stores only make the list if you put a usable dollar amount on the card and know where the recipient likes to shop. If you’re not sure about small stores like H&M or Forever 21, get a gift card to a department store with a variety of brands instead.
  9. Beauty or Accessories. Similar to the clothing recommendation, girls might enjoy a gift card to Sephora, Ulta, or Claire’s depending on their age. But sure you put a usable dollar amount on the card and to ensure locations are easily accessible. It’s hard to shop for makeup online.
  10. Sporting Goods If you have a sporty guy or gal on your list, then a gift card to Nike, Sports Authority, 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.

What do you think? Is there anything I forgot?

You can always get more unique gift cards such as a gift card to the local bowling alley, cupcake shop, or burrito store next to the high school. But the gift cards in this list are fairly universal, following my most important criteria for the best types of gift cards to get kids.

And if you need help redeeming gift cards with kids, then read this post to be sure the shopping trip is a success.

Happy Gift Carding!

~ Gift Card Girlfriend (GCG)