10 best gift cards for holiday shopping

Home Depot

Anyone who's ever managed their cash to the dime after buying their first home, had a pipe burst in their apartment or has had to rebuild after a storm knows how handy a home and garden store gift card can be.

Home Depot's $10 to $500 gift card has one very important feature its competitors' cards don't: the ability to use it both in store and online, combine multiple cards into one, send it as an e-card and customize it with various background images or your own image. Trivial as that may seem, it's a subtle way to say it's time to replace a bathroom faucet or replace that gutter above the front door before it crushes the mailman. A feature that notifies buyers when their gift cards were viewed is also handy.


Whole Foods Market Gift CardWhole Foods Market Gift Card

How far can a gift card go at this notoriously costly organic grocer? A long way for folks who shun packs of Buffalo meat for the shop's 365 Brand organic food.

Scoring 99 out of 100, Whole Foods Market's gift offering is easily ScripSmart's highest-rated grocery card. It never expires, has no fees, spells out a replacement policy and is available either in the store or online with free shipping. It's reloadable, redeemable at all Whole Foods locations and usable at Harry's in Georgia and Ideal Market in Colorado, both part of the Whole Foods family.

If you're that concerned about expense, though, it's all the more reason to subsidize those Earth-and-health-conscious splurges for those you love. Yes, they can make the card last months on cheap mac and cheese and eggs, but they'll remember that wedge of gruyere far longer.

(See also: 10 Best SUVs to Buy Now)

Marriott

All too often, gift cards are just symbolic of the shopping their buyers didn't do.

Somebody didn't want to think about another person's preferences or ask a person what they liked, so they picked up a gift card for some store and let the recipient do the shopping for them. That just can't happen with a Marriott card, which not only conveys that you were considerate enough of someone's needs to give them a night or two away from it all, but that you were committed to at least some vague semblance of a gift idea beyond the card.

This hotel card in particular is a pretty sweet get, as it gives a recipient $25 to $2,000 for their stay, is shipped to them free and is good at all Marriott-branded hotels and resorts including Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Renaissance, Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari and Autograph.


Bass Pro Shops Gift CardBass Pro Shops

With a 99 ScripSmart rating and lots of customer-friendly features, the Bass Pro Shops gift card and e-gift card are a great catch for any fishing, boating, camping or hunting enthusiast.

The cards never expire and have no hidden fees, a written gift card replacement policy and free shipping. If a recipient gets multiple cards, they can be merged into one and used for purchases in-store, online and over the phone.

Also, because it helps to eat before a big day on the river or lake, Bass Pro Shops Gift Cards may be redeemed at the company's Hemingway's Blue Water Cafe, Big Cedar Lodge, Top of the Rock restaurant and Islamorada Fish Company restaurants and at Starbucks outlets within the stores.

Nordstrom

OK, so maybe this store is just a little pricier than the others on this list, but what better excuse to help someone out with a $25 to $1,000 card?

For your investment, you'll get the card shipped to you or its recipient free of charge. The person you're giving it to, however, will get to use it at any Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack shop or at Nordstrom's online store. They'll also be able to use it any time they want, as it never expires.

(See also: How to Get Your Gifts to Show Up On Time)




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