The 20 Absolute Best Employee Gift Cards to Show Your Appreciation

Justin Calderon

Justin Calderon

13 min

From holiday gifts, birthdays, and other special occasions, to job incentives, milestone events, and rewards –  corporate gift-giving is part of company culture. But why is that? 

Employees value and need recognition for their hard work and dedication. Employees are 82% happier when they receive recognition, survey platform SurveyMonkey found. And 85% of employees indicated that receiving a gift from their employer makes them feel like a valued member of the company, according to the 2023 Q4 Gift Card Gauge from commerce platform Carat.  

Source: Carat

In turn, employee engagement, performance, and productivity are 14% higher in organizations with employee recognition programs than in those without, research from auditor Deloitte revealed.   

When it comes to employee appreciation and recognition, what gifts do employees really want? It turns out that there might be no reward better suited for recognition than gift cards. 

44.07% of employees agree that gift cards are the “best rewards to receive”, while 27.12% agree that they are “good rewards to receive”, research from the non-profit Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) shows. 

Employees prefer gift cards over cash bonuses, according to a survey held by gift card company Blackhawk Network (BHN). At 90%, gift cards were requested 25% more than bonuses, which came in second at 72%. 

Psychological studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Waterloo corroborate this, showing that people incentivized by a desired, non-cash reward outperform those incentivized by its cash equivalent

Employee gift cards are more than great gifts – they’re the most desired gifts and have proven effective as motivational employee rewards. But not all gift cards are equal. 

So what is the most popular gift card to give?

Below are the best gift cards for employees – categorized into different types of gift cards, so that you can buy gift cards that best fit your employees. 

Read on for gift card ideas. 

Employees like to be recognized. Contact Reloadly and learn how our gift card API and plugins can help you create the best employee rewards program for your company.

Open-loop vs closed-loop gift cards

Gift cards can be distinguished into two main categories: Open-loop and closed-loop gift cards. A third category would be a hybrid between the two. 

Prepaid gift cards and other cash-like cards are called open-loop gift cards because they can be used at any location that accepts the card issuer’s payment network. 

Of all types of gift cards, these open-loop prepaid gift cards are most often included in a company’s reward program, the earlier mentioned BHN survey reveals.

Source: Blackhawk Network

On the other hand, branded or merchant gift cards that can only be redeemed at a specific brand or retailer are called closed-loop gift cards. Finally, hybrid gift cards can be used within a closed ecosystem of merchants. 

Among merchant gift cards, big retailers are most often picked when companies buy gift cards for non-cash reward programs. Coffee cards, online retailers, and dining gift cards follow closely, an IRF study shows.

Source: Incentive Research Foundation

While the corporate reward programs in question are not employee-specific and might be targeted towards clients instead, the survey shows the importance of recipients having the freedom of choice in gift redemption – even when it comes to merchant gift cards.

Prepaid cards

The versatility of open-loop prepaid cards allows employees to use the card at any retailer and location that accepts the issuing payment network. This makes prepaid cards the gift card of choice among both employers and employees. 

Employees prefer prepaid cards over any other gift card, with nearly half (48%) picking prepaid cards) as their top choice and 20% opting for online retailers in a 2021 Gift Card Gauge survey from Carat.  

Out of all available prepaid cards, these are the best gift card options for employees:

1. Visa Reward Card

The best gift card for employees, the Visa gift card is at the top of the list for employee appreciation presents for a few reasons. First, its wide acceptance and the freedom it provides to employees in choosing how to use the card. This open-loop rewards card can be used anywhere worldwide where Visa debit cards are accepted. This makes it one of the best gift cards for remote employees working abroad.  

Besides, the card is considered highly secure and allows employees to pay without having to disclose any financial details. Additionally, the card balance can be checked online. Apart from the convenience and versatility of using the Visa network, another great feature of the  Visa Reward Card is its customizability. Adding a company logo and design is simple, making for a personalized gift. 

2. Mastercard prepaid gift card

Another payment network known for its credit cards, the Mastercard prepaid gift card is also a popular option for employee rewards due to its versatility. The card can be used at any location that accepts Mastercard and is roughly as widely accepted as Visa. For that reason, the Mastercard prepaid gift card is, too, one of the best gift cards for remote employees.

Again, personalization is a key feature. Adding a company logo, design, and gift message adds a personal touch and gesture that goes a long way. Overall, the Mastercard gift card is comparable to the Visa gift card in its usability, with small differences in policy like expiration date and fees.

An important thing to note is that both the Mastercard and Visa prepaid cards have associated purchase and possible activation fees, as well as an expiration date. Employers need to compare these fees and the cards’ limitations before deciding on either.

In contrast, many closed-loop cards don’t have such fees because the retailers have the cards’ value locked in their commercial ecosystem. 

Gift cards from large retailers

While these gift cards can only be redeemed at a particular store, gift cards from big retailers are nearly as versatile as prepaid cards as to what you can buy with them. After all, today’s retail giants sell anything from clothes to electronics to pet food. 

With the most diverse range of products available through a few scrolls and clicks, online retailers offer the most versatile gift cards apart from open-loop cards. For that reason, they can be counted as the best e-gift cards for employees.

3. Amazon gift card

The world’s biggest online retailer issues one of the best gift cards for employees for several reasons. Amazon has an incredibly wide range of goods, ranging from ebooks to laptops and from shoes to home goods. With an Amazon e-gift card, any type of employee can browse through an endless catalog of products to find their ideal gift.

What makes these virtual gift cards even better is the Amazon retail experience, which features fast shipping and easy returns. Beyond retail, the card can also be redeemed for Amazon’s streaming service, Amazon Prime, and their audiobook subscription, Audible.

Finally, the Amazon gift card can be used at all online vendors that accept Amazon Pay, extending the ecosystem in which these virtual gift cards can be used. With such versatility, employers can confidently bulk-purchase Amazon gift cards.

Does that make Amazon the perfect gift card for employees? If we count out prepaid cards, perhaps yes.

4. Target gift card

Target is a trusted retailer offering an amazing variety of products, and their gift cards are well-received due to the brand’s popularity and the absence of card expiry.

While not as extensive as Amazon, Target’s product range features a large if not the whole spectrum of consumer goods. The retail giant offers products at reasonable prices and often has discounts, increasing the purchasing power employees have with their Target gift card. 

And unlike Amazon’s card, the Target gift card can be used both both in-store and online. This makes for a popular gift card that can offer more than a convenient online experience, but also a physical one. 

5. Walmart gift card

Another retail giant, Walmart offers gift cards with a myriad of designs that mark special occasions and holidays. This personalization makes them the perfect gift cards for employee appreciation. 

With a vast range of consumer goods, Walmart gift cards can be redeemed for products to anyone’s liking both in-store and online through e-gift cards. This flexibility, Walmart’s lower prices, and the omnipresence of Walmart stores across the US make Walmart gift cards a popular option for employee gift cards. 

Coffee cards

Coffee is a beloved beverage among employees from all walks of life, making coffee gift cards a universally liked choice. They offer a simple way of saying thank you in terms of employee appreciation. Though limited to beverages and perhaps lunch, these cards perfectly fit the corporate coffee culture.  

6. Starbucks gift card program

Not only is coffee universally accepted as a thank you, but the Starbucks Card program is also exceptionally good. Apart from the personalized messages that the different designs offer, the use of Starbucks gift cards racks up points, or Stars, that can be used to redeem rewards.

The program allows for the purchase and sending of virtual Starbucks cards via email or certain social media platforms. Additionally, the Starbucks gift card program provides a fast digital delivery option, making it a convenient gifting choice for various occasions. 

The gift cards are well-received due to the brand’s popularity and the absence of card expiry. Furthermore, the program offers a cash-out option for gift card redemption in certain regions.

Dining and food delivery

Food-related gift cards are among the best gift cards for employees for Christmas – or any special occasion. After all, foodies, hard-working employees, and just about anyone else can appreciate a good meal. 

Accounting for 30% of consumer spending on gift card for 2023’s winter holidays, restaurant gift cards were the most popular consumer gift card category, with food delivery gift cards adding another 10% of total spending, analysis from trade association The National Retail Federation shows.  

Source: National Retail Federation

From Applebee’s and Texas Roadhouse to Chipotle and Red Lobster, many popular restaurant gift cards exist. However, employees’ preferences for restaurant gift cards are as diverse as one’s taste is particular. A better option for an employee gift card is picking a hybrid gift card or food delivery gift card.

7. Mix It Up gift card

This multi-store gift card is versatile enough to be gifted to most foody employees as a sign of employee appreciation. The card can be used at Carvel, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Auntie Anne’s, McAlister’s Deli, and Jamba. Whatever food your employee likes, this is the restaurant gift card that will satisfy their cravings. 

Moreover, this restaurant gift card can create a more memorable dining experience than a delivery gift card, depending how and with whom the meal is enjoyed. 

8. Uber Eats gift card

Uber Eats gift cards offer a versatile way to share the joy of food with employees. It’s also the most convenient of appreciation gifts. Uber Eats has become a go-to service for professionals who eat out often. 

Uber Eats gift cards can be used to order food from thousands of restaurants and stores, and can be redeemed via the Uber Eats app within the U.S. in cities where Uber Eats is available. The gift cards have no expiration date and offer the flexibility to redeem the full gift card amount at once. 

However, Uber Eats gift cards purchased in America are not redeemable outside of the country. Also, recipients may need to add a secondary payment method to use the gift card with the app.

9. DoorDash gift card

Like Uber Eats, DoorDash gift cards are versatile and sure to be used by employees. With a presence over 4,000 cities in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, and a wide availability that offers delivery for restaurants and stores, DoorDash gift cards are a convenient way to enjoy both food and grocery delivery.

Tech and electronics

Every company has a department of tech-savvy employees who will likely appreciate tech and electronics gift cards. But it’s not just techies that would enjoy receiving an electronics gift card. Consumer electronics pervade our daily lives, from smartphones and e-readers to robot vacuum cleaners.  

Because of the rising demand for technology, tech and electronics gift cards make for well-received as well as practical rewards.

10. Apple gift card

 If your employee owns an iPhone, chances are they’ll love to receive an Apple gift card.  

Apple gift cards are a popular and versatile gifting option that can be used to purchase a wide range of tech and electronic products, including iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, accessories, and digital content such as music, movies, and apps. 

Apple gift cards are available both as in-store as physical cards and online as e-gift cards forms, offering recipients the flexibility to choose their preferred items. 

11. Best Buy gift card

A trusted name in the U.S. consumer market, Best Buy is a major retailer that specializes in consumer electronics. The retailer has a wide range of tech and electronic products available in-store and online, including smartphones, laptops, and gaming consoles.

Best Buy gift cards are well-received by employees due to the brand’s reputation and the wide variety of products they offer.The cards can be redeemed at any of the hundreds of Best Buy retail locations or online. 

12. Playstation gift card

If your employee is a gamer, find out whether they own a Playstation. If they do,  there is no more fun and personal gift card than a PlayStation Store gift card.

Recipients with a Playstation account will be able to add funds to their PlayStation Network (PSN) wallet, which can be used to purchase a wide variety of digital content from the PlayStation Store. This includes games, memberships, season passes, but also movies, and more. 

Clothing and apparel 

Both a great gift card for fashionable employees and a perfect holiday gift, clothing gift cards are one of the best employee gift cards for Christmas

Buying a new outfit can inspire confidence and work uplifting. Clothing gift cards encourage your employees to take care of themselves and express their personality through their appearance. This makes offering an apparel gift card personal and less of a transactional reward. 

While some clothing brands can be a hit or miss, clothing department stores offer a wider choice of brands and apparel to accommodate any employee.

13. Nike gift card

Offering the option of sneakers and sports clothing, Nike gift cards are loved by sneakerheads and athletes alike. The cards are available in various designs and can be purchased for any amount. Additionally, Nike offers a mini shoebox version of the gift card for a unique and appealing presentation. 

Nike gift cards are redeemable at,, and at Nike and Converse-owned retail locations in the United States.

14. Nordstrom gift card

Whether for the office or a night out, Nordstrom gift cards can be redeemed for a fashionable outfit. The popular department store stocks a wide range of fashion brands and has over 350 stores in the U.S., making their gift cards versatile and easily redeemable for a shopping experience.

Nordstrom gift cards don’t expire, adding to their appeal. 

Streaming services 

Among the best e-gift cards for employees, streaming services gift cards are a friendly sign of recognition telling an employee they deserve some downtime at home binging their favorite series. There’s hardly a better gesture that employees can get from their higher-ups. 

Of the various streaming platforms out there, chances are that your employee is already subscribed to Netflix. The U.S. biggest streaming service accounts for nearly 8% of airtime, according to research firm Nielsen. A safer bet would be to pick streaming services with less watch time.

Source: Nielsen

With that in mind, there are plenty of streaming services available as gift cards. Below are the best gift cards for employees:

15. Hulu 

With 3.7% of the total airtime and less than half of Netflix, Hulu comes in at second place of most watched streaming services (not counting YouTube). This means it’s less likely that your employees are already subscribed to the streaming service and would appreciate a Hulu gift card.

The cards can be used to pay for a Hulu subscription, including the ad-supported, ad-free, and Hulu + Live TV plans. Hulu gift cards can also be used to purchase add-ons such as the Unlimited Screens add-on, which allows for streaming on multiple devices simultaneously.

16. Disney+ 

Disney gift cards are the perfect gift for employees with families. While the card can be spent on a Disney+ subscription, giving access to content for both kids and adult Star Wars fans, Disney gift cards allow for many more experiences.

The gift cards can also be used to purchase tickets to Disney resorts and theme parks, making it a more versatile option than other streaming service gift cards and a great holiday gift.

17. Spotify 

Instead of watching TV, how about letting your employees listen to music with a Spotify gift card?

The gift of music is thoughtful and personal for music lovers, a category to which nearly everyone belongs. 

Through Spotify Premium, users can enable ad-free listening – allowing for a more enjoyable and uninterrupted experience. 

Travel gift cards

Of all closed-loop cards, travel gift cards are the best gift cards for remote employees. Employers rewarding a travel card as a sign of recognition tell their employees they are doing a great job while working remotely – and that they can work from wherever it is they wish to work from. 

In a time where remote work is a popular lifestyle but not yet completely accepted in all company cultures, a gesture like giving a travel gift card will be very much appreciated by employees – remote or not. 

18. Airbnb gift card

An Airbnb does more than provide accommodation in a travel destination. Instead, it offers a home-like setting that is well suited for a remote work setup. That’s why it’s the best gift card for employees looking to work and travel – or just travel. 

Airbnb gift cards are easily redeemable while booking accommodation and can be bought from the Airbnb website or bulk-purchased for employees through authorized distributors

Bookstore gift cards

A classic gift card, bookstore gift cards are thoughtful appreciation gifts.

19. Barnes & Noble gift card

Barnes & Noble is a popular bookstore and retailer with stores in every state. Their gift cards are a great birthday gift or to mark a special occasion for employees. 

Redeemable both at stores and online, these versatile gift cards can be used to purchase not just books, but e-books, games, toys, music, movies, and more. 

Bonus: Crypto gift cards

While not suited for every employee, crypto gift cards might prove a special incentive for interested employees now that cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity. As an employee recognition award, a crypto gift card can be a great motivational incentive for employees who are curious about blockchain.

Employees in fintech or related fields could appreciate a crypto gift card, as might developers. And for those who are interested in cryptocurrency, the employee reward will seem like an honest nudge toward an employee’s financial goals

The perfect gift doesn’t exist, but the next closest thing is an employee gift card. So what are the best gift cards for employees?

20. Crypto Voucher

Crypto Voucher is a platform that lets employees instantly buy various cryptocurrencies with Crypto Voucher gift cards and various other major payment methods. 

Not only can crypto be bought in a smooth and user-friendly way, but their gift cards can be purchased in bulk through seamless gift card API, making it a solid employee reward option for employers operating in a field where blockchain interest is relatively high. 

Gift cards equal happy employees. Are you ready to see how our next-generation employee gift card can increase retention and productivity? Sign up for Reloadly or contact us to learn how our digital gift card API lets you easily run employee gift card programs in your company.

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