The National Retail Federation pointed out that 80% of all consumers will buy a gift card this holiday season. It’s important that when buying a gift card for someone that you know more about the card, terms and conditions and what merchants are the most popular. You want to make sure that the gift card that you buy ends up being used and does not end up on a gift card exchange website.

Open Loop vs Closed Loop

An open loop gift card comes with very few restrictions and can be used universally at almost any merchant. Common open-loop gift cards include; Visa Gift Cards, AMEX Gift Cards, and Prepaid Debit Cards. It is important to note that open loop gift cards will often come with fees and charges that are not found with closed loop gift cards. The most popular option for open loop gift cards is probably the Vanilla Visa gift card.

Prepaid Visa Cards Are the #1 Open Loop Cards

Closed loop gift cards are restricted for use at the merchant that they were purchased for. For example a McDonald’s gift card can only be used at McDonald’s locations and nowhere else. Some closed loop gift cards have multiple uses and can be used at all of a corporations different brands. The Gap Gift Card can be used at Old Navy, Banana Republic and Piperlime. While the Olive Garden gift card can also be used at Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, LongHorn Steakhouse and the Capital Grille.

Top Rated Gift Cards

It’s important when buying a gift card that you choose one that is easy to be redeemed, comes with a variety of options and does not expire. The most popular gift cards for 2011 were Walmart, Amazon.com and Target. Picking any of these gift cards will definitely leave the recipient happy because they can spend the balance on almost anything.

If you choose a gift card on this list, then you are almost guaranteed to make that persons day. We also like to recommend gift cards like Starbucks, McDonald’s and the Apple Store.