7 Gift Cards That Don’t Suck

Because gift cards, when done right, can be perfect in a pinch.


Not all gift cards have to be lame. | NorGal / Shutterstock.com.

We’ve all been there: panicked and scrambling to find a last-minute gift for that special someone in your life whom you totally forgot about until the absolute drop-dead last minute. Oops. The go-to lifesaver? A gift card, which you’ll avoid until the last possible second. But save yourself the struggle: Gift cards, considered by many to be impersonal, boring, safe, are really unfairly maligned. In fact, there are a few out there we’d actually really enjoy receiving. Here’s how to turn a gift card reaction from eye-roll to ecstatic. Trust us.


Images via Rescue Spa.

The gift of a spa treatment at a luxe location is a surefire winner for anyone. Life always throws so many other things at our wallets (i.e. groceries, parking tickets, etc.), so a gift card to a swanky spa ensures your giftee will get some forced (and surely welcome) R&R. Local spots we love include Rescue Spa in Rittenhouse and Ame Salon and Spa in Wayne.

For the millennials in your life, you would not believe what a hit a Wawa gift card will be. Yes, we’re serious. Think: 24 hours of on-the-go munchies, gas, healthy fast-food options, coffee. Plus, those milkshakes. And turkey Gobbler hoagies. And that cult-favorite iced tea. (Note: While a Sunoco or 7-Eleven gift card might seem like the same thing, it’s definitely not.)


Images via Geisha House, Stone Cold Fox and Nasty Gal.

This is less of a last-minute gift, and more of a I-don’t-want-to-give-you-a-wad-of-cash gift: Choosy shoppers would prefer a gift card to a favorite shop. Consider local go-to Geisha House in Old City or Shop Sixty Five in Rittenhouse, or order her one from an online retailer she might drool over but never actually shop, like Stone Cold Fox or Nasty Gal.

On the worst of days, nothing is sure to pick up one’s spirits like a mani/pedi combo. Find out her go-to nail place (everyone’s got one), and get her a gift certificate to cover the costs. If you really want to go the extra mile, make sure you know which type of mani and pedi she normally gets (gel, acrylic, regular polish, nail art) and include a 20 percent tip on the gift card so she doesn’t have to worry about a thing for her next nail visit. Now that’s a thoughtful piece of plastic.


Images via Verti Flickr and Village Whiskey.

For the person in your life who loves food (read: everyone), get them a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Don’t worry if your gift will only cover a portion of the total bill: It’s getting them in the door that counts. And who wouldn’t want the gift of Vetri almond truffle tortellini or a liquid encyclopedia of spirits at Village Whiskey?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: A subscription to anything from Spotify to HBO Go  to Netflix will make any data-streaming, music-and-show-loving, tech-using person in your life happy as a clam. Set them up with a year’s worth of premium access to make sure their show binging and throwback playlists can go on for blissful, ad-free days on end.

For the workout junkie (or the wannabe workout junkie): Go for a Lululemon gift card. Everyone wants to get their hands on those fabled leggings, but most people can’t justify $100 for a single pair. A gift card will help them take the leap. Other great contenders in this arena include Philadelphia Runner and New Balance.

Need a safe bet? Do the Starbucks gift card. Why? Because there’s one are on every corner of every street in every city in the world (basically), and the coffee beats lukewarm Keurig dregs in a to-go cup.