What you need to know to pick the best gaming gift card. Find top gift cards for gamers plus info on Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox and other gift cards.
In most cases, to pick the perfect gift card, you simply need to select a store or restaurant within a category of cards that you know the recipient will enjoy. But gaming gift cards are different.
In order to pick the best gift card for a gamer, you need to know which gaming console the recipient uses or which game the recipient prefers. There are alternatives, however, if you’re not sure.
Three Types of Gaming Gift Cards
(Gamer Visa gift card available in most grocery stores nationwide.)
Before going into the list of best gift cards to buy for gamers, let me clarify the difference between gaming gift cards, game-specific gift cards and electronic store gift cards.
1. GAMING Gift Cards are redeemable for digital content on various gaming platforms. They can be used to buy a variety of downloadable games, renew subscriptions, buy game add-ons, order movies, buy avatar gear and more. These gift cards are often only redeemable through their respective systems, so you must know which system the recipient plays in order to buy the right gift card.
2. GAME-SPECIFIC Gift Cards are redeemable for either a specific video game or for digital content within that game. Often the game itself is free, but the user pays for bonus features such as avatar costumes, maps and other virtual items. These are called microtransactions.
Popular Game-specific gift cards: Riot’s League of Legends gift cards, Minecraft Minecoins and more.
3. ELECTRONICS Gift Cards can be used to buy game systems and other gaming gear (e.g. headsets, remote controllers, cables and other accessories). They can also be used to buy downloadable games, movies or other digital content, but will require a two-step process. For example, if you want to buy a digital PlayStation game with a Best Buy gift card, you first redeem the card at Best Buy for the specific product you want. Then Best Buy will send you an email containing a code that has to be entered into the PlayStation system to access the game.
So which gaming gift card should I buy?
If you know which system your gamer has (or which game is played most often), buy the corresponding gift card. If you’re not sure, don’t guess. A platform-specific or game-specific gift card will be unusable (or undesirable) to someone who doesn’t have the right system or doesn’t play that game. If you have no idea what gaming system or game the recipient prefers, buy an electronics gift card, a Visa gift card or a Mastercard® gift card instead.
Now let’s get to the list.
A Note About Parental Controls
For years, I resisted letting my kids play video games. Eventually, however, I bought a Nintendo Wii, rationalizing that these games encouraged physical activity and were better than shooting games. That lasted until my boys got to middle school. Then I totally caved. Now, rather than prohibit gaming altogether, I try to teach moderation, choosing good content and being a good member of the virtual community. My kudos to any parent who is still holding out.
If you are thinking of buying a gaming gift card, but have concerns over how the funds will be spent, please visit The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). They have a guide to parental controls that will show you how to put limits on gaming time, spending, communication with other gamers and content.
Best Gift Cards for Gamers
Just to clarify, I did not make up this list. I asked a bunch of gamers which systems they use and which gift cards they would want. They all said that getting the correct system is the most important thing to do. So let’s start with gaming gift cards—the ones that are redeemable on a specific gaming console or system.
Gaming Gift Cards
1. PlayStation Gift Cards
According to Business Insider, the PlayStation 4 (PS4) is the most popular gaming console. If you’re looking for a PS4 gift card, then the PlayStation Store gift card is the one you want.
There is no such thing as a PS4 gift card or a gift card that works exclusively on a PS4.
PlayStation Store gift cards are redeemable on the PlayStation Network (PSN) so it doesn’t matter if you have the current PS4 or an older console (e.g. PS1, PS2, PS3), the gift card will be redeemable for downloadable content (e.g. movies, games, in-game features, etc.) via the PSN.
What’s a PlayStation Plus gift card? PlayStation Plus is the membership subscription required to play games online with friends. If the recipient already has a PlayStation Plus membership, the gift card can be redeemed for future months. For example, if your grandchild already has a membership, the Plus gift card can be tacked onto their subscription and give them free access for a certain time, depending on the amount of the gift card. This gift card cannot be used to buy other content on the PSN.
A PlayStation Store gift card is the perfect gift card for a PS4 gamer.
2. Xbox Gift Cards
Xbox gift cards are redeemable through the Microsoft Store online, on Windows and via the Xbox. (They are not usable for purchases at physical Microsoft stores.)
To use an Xbox gift card, you first need to redeem it to your Microsoft account. Once the funds are transferred from the Xbox gift card to the account, the balance can be spent downloading games, movies and other content through the Xbox console (or another device).
Here are a few things to note:
- In-app products like games, levels and map packs can be purchased with the Xbox gift card. But some apps that require a subscription must be paid for with a credit card.
- According to the Xbox FAQ, “Yes, you can buy Xbox Live Gold subscriptions and Xbox Game Pass with a gift card online or from your Xbox.”
- Microsoft gift cards and Xbox gift cards work the same. Once the gift card is redeemed to a Microsoft account, the balance can be used either on an Xbox or another Microsoft-supported system.
An Xbox gift card or a Microsoft gift card is the perfect choice for an Xbox One gamer.
Buy Xbox gift cards.
3. Nintendo Gift Cards
Nintendo gift cards can be redeemed via the Nintendo eShop or online at Nintendo.com. Once you redeem a Nintendo gift card, the balance can be used to purchase downloadable content such as games, features, movies and more. The game (or other content purchased) will automatically be downloaded to the system associated with your Nintendo account.
There is no such thing as a device-specific gift card such as a Nintendo Switch gift card or a Nintendo DS gift card. The all-encompassing Nintendo eShop gift card can be used to purchase content for any Nintendo-branded device—Nintendo Switch, Wii U or Nintendo 3DS – but you do need a Nintendo Account to complete the purchase.
If you redeem the gift card online at Nintendo.com, the content will still only be downloaded to the device associated with the account.
By the way, the character shown on the gift card does not indicate that the gift card must be used on a specific game. The Mario gift card, for example, is still a Nintendo eShop gift card that can be used to purchase anything available on Nintendo.
Like PlayStation Plus, Nintendo also sells a membership gift card called Nintendo Switch Online. This gift card is redeemable for an online subscription. If your gamer already has a subscription, redeeming this card will tack onto the existing membership.
A Nintendo eShop gift card is the perfect gift card for a Nintendo Switch gamer.
Buy Nintendo Gift Cards.
4. Steam Gift Cards
Steam is a system for gaming on web and mobile-based interfaces. Unlike the systems listed above, you do not need a dedicated gaming console to play. The Steam interface can be downloaded to any Windows PC, Mac, iPhone or Android device. You can even hook it up to various TV’s with the purchase of a Steam Link device.
Steam gift cards are redeemable for games, software, hardware and more on the Steam.com storefront. To redeem a Steam gift card, you must have a Steam account. Once redeemed, the balance from the gift card will go into your Steam Wallet account, to be used however you want.
A Steam gift card is the perfect choice for a gamer who plays on a PC or mobile device.
Buy Steam Gift Cards
5. Roblox Gift Cards
Like Steam, Roblox is another gaming platform that can be enjoyed on nearly any device including Windows PCs or Macs, iOS, Android or Amazon devices, the Xbox One and others. Roblox is free to join, but you can upgrade to a “Builders Club” membership that provides exclusive avatar accessories, access to a trading system and an advertisement-free screen. With the purchase of Robux, the game’s virtual currency, players can also buy in-game upgrades and avatar accessories.
Roblox gift cards can be redeemed for Robux.
Buy a Roblox gift card.
6. NCSoft Gift Cards
NCSoft produces a variety of freemium games that are free-to-play at a basic level but quickly inspire gamers to upgrade for premium content. NCSoft games are available to play on both Windows PC and Mac devices. To make in-game purchases, you need to buy NCoin.
NCoin gift cards are redeemable for NCoin within NCSoft games such as Lineage II, AION, Wildstar and Blade & Soul.
Buy NCoin gift cards.
7. ARC Games – Perfect World Gift Cards
Perfect World Entertainment is another massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming platform featuring the ARC game launcher for Neverwinter, PWI, Star Trek Online, Forsaken World and many other video games.
The Perfect World gift card is redeemable at arcgames.com where you choose which game and server to transfer the load value to.
Buy ARC gift cards.
8. Blizzard Games – Perfect World Gift Cards
Blizzard is yet another MMO game maker best known for producing World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo. Blizzard gift cards are redeemable for Blizzard games and microtransactions within their games. When you redeem the gift card, the funds are added to your Blizzard Balance, so you will need a Blizzard account in order to redeem the gift card.
Buy Blizzard gift cards.
Game-Specific Gift Cards
In addition to platform-specific gaming gift cards (e.g. PlayStation gift cards) and electronics gift cards (e.g. GameStop), there are a handful of game-specific gift cards that can be used to level-up a game you love, regardless of where you play it. Below are some of the more popular game-specific gift cards that people search for.
9. Fortnite Gift Cards
Hold on. There is no such thing as a Fortnite gift card.
Fortnite is a game that can be played on a variety of platforms—PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo and Steam, as well as mobile devices and computers. Part of the new game breed called “freemium,” the game itself is free on all platforms, but you can buy skins, maps and gear to make the Fortnite experience better.
To give someone the gift of Fortnite, you need to know which gaming console they use.If the gamer plays Fortnite on a PS4, then you need a PlayStation gift card. If the gamer plays Fortnite on an Xbox, you’ll need an Xbox gift card. You see where this is going, right? A Nintendo Switch gamer will need a Nintendo gift card to upgrade their Fortnite play.
10. Minecraft Gift Cards
Minecraft costs approximately $27 to buy, and up until recently, did not boast any in-game purchase options.
There are currently two types of Minecraft gift cards.
A Minecraft gift card that sells for the same price as the game can be redeemed for the full version of Minecraft (Windows or Mac).
A Minecraft Minecoin gift card can be used to buy skins, texture packs, maps and other content within the game on a version of Minecraft that supports the Minecraft Marketplace. You must have an Xbox Live account to use your Minecoins. Here’s a link to the Minecraft Minecoin FAQ for more information. (https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/redeem/minecoins/)
Buy a Minecraft gift card (to buy the game).
Buy a Minecraft Minecoin gift card (for in-game purchases).
11. Riot League of Legends Gift Cards
League of Legends is also a freemium game—it’s free to play, but you can make in-game purchases for an upgraded experience.
League of Legends gift cards are redeemable for Riot Points that must be used within the gaming platform to buy character accessories, the use of champions and other premium content.
Electronics Gift Cards
For the gifter who isn’t sure which system or game the recipient prefers, I recommend buying either an electronics store gift card or a bank-issued gift card that can be used almost anywhere. In many cases, these gift cards can be used to buy games or gaming hardware such as headsets, controllers and more.
Here are the most popular electronics store gift cards for gamers.
Buying Gaming Gift Cards for Personal Use
In reviewing the various gaming gift card options, especially those that are part of the MMO crowd, I discovered that many gamers buy the gift cards listed above for personal use. Since doing so requires extra work, possibly a trip to the store and often a waiting period before the gift card is active, I wondered why so many gamers buy gift cards for self-use.
I found five reasons.
- 1. No Credit Card. If you don’t have a credit card, there is no other way to add funds to your gaming account. Gamers buy gift cards with cash so they can keep on playing. (Plus, some gamers collect reward points at the stores they buy their gift cards from.)
- 2. Safe Purchases. Some gamers buy gift cards to avoid putting their bank information into online video game systems, especially the MMO platforms. With gaming gift cards, they can play without the worries sometimes associated with online identity theft.
- 3. Budgeting. With a debit or credit card linked to a gaming system, it is easy to mindlessly rack up a bunch of in-game purchases. Budget-conscious gamers buy gift cards to give themselves a monthly gaming limit. When the gift card balance is used, game over.
- 4. Sales and Rewards. Occasionally, gaming gift cards go on sale. When that happens, gamers stock up to extend their existing memberships or to save a few bucks on future microtransactions. Gamers who collect credit card or loyalty points, might also buy gift cards at stores that offer these perks.
- 5. Privacy. Lastly, some gamers buy gift cards at grocery stores or other department stores so money spent on gaming doesn’t show up on their bank statements. Doing so buries money spent on gaming into a grocery store or electronics store receipt. (I’m not judging…ok, I’m judging a little.)
What Other Gaming Gift Card Questions Do You Have?
This simple blog post has turned into a lengthy review of many gaming gift cards—ones I didn’t even know existed until I started doing the research.
But keep this in mind. The information contained in this post is current at the time of this writing. Platforms change, software changes, memberships and subscriptions change all the time. I will do my best to keep this blog post updated as things in the gaming industry change, but please read the instructions on any gift card you are considering before making your final selection.
If you’re not sure which gaming gift card to buy, don’t guess. Buy an electronics gift card or a Visa gift card instead. This is the only way to make sure the gift you give will work for any gamer or game.
Happy Gift Carding!
~Shelley Hunter, Gift Card Girlfriend