Most Popular Retail and Restaurant Gift Cards

Gift Card Demand Rises, Consumers Choose Christmas Season Favorites

Most Popular Gift Cards 2015: Mobile, Physical, Retail and Restaurant
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Whether it is mobile or physical, from a retailer or a restaurant, gift cards will be taking their place as one of the most popular, asked for, and demanded gifts of the 2015 Christmas holiday shopping season. Aligned with the U.S. consuming trend of I-want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it-how-I-want-it-just-because-I-want-it, gift cards give Christmas consumers control over both the giving and receiving aspects of the Christmas holiday season. This is one more aspect of the empowered consumer control game that retailers will need to win during the 2015 Christmas holiday shopping season according to recent consumer research.

Gift card sales in Q4 2015 are expected to increase 40% if they track on trend with Christmas holiday gift card spending behaviors in recent years. In a study conducted in October 2015 by data solutions provider Return Path, year-over-year gift card sales already increased 40% in the first half of 2015. So if the gift card spending trend continues, a 40% increase over a 40% increase would mean that this year's Christmas holiday gift card spending could break records exponentially. 

So, which gift cards will consumers choose as their favorite gift cards to give and receive in the Christmas holiday shopping season? If the rest of 2015 is any indication, a majority of gift card recipients are asking Santa for a Walmart gift card for Christmas in 2015. That's according to, a discount gift card aggregator website. According to Gift Card Granny, out of 130,000 gift cards shoppers, the Walmart gift card was the one most watched, most wanted, and most purchased. At least that's true among people who shop for new and partially used gift cards at a discount. 

What follows is the list of top 20 Most Requested Gift Cards in 2015. Compare this list to the 2010 Most Popular Gift Cards list to see how consumer gift card preferences have changed. Click the links to find out more about each retailer and its gift card offerings.

1. Walmart
Wal-Mart Gift Card Policies, Rules & Fees

2. Target

Target Gift Card Policies, Rules & Fees

3. Gift Cards Sold and Distributed on Facebook

4. Walgreens

Walgreens Gift Card Policies, Rules & Fees

5. Home Depot

Home Depot Gift Card Policies, Rules & Fees

6. Lowe's

E-Gift Cards Sold Online at Lowe's

7. Subway

8. Kohl's

Kohl's E-gift Cards and E-gift Certificate Options

9. Costco

Costco Gift Card Policies, Rules & Fees

10. VISA

11. CVS

Mobile Gift Cards Available to Send and Spend on Smartphones

12. Shell

13. Best Buy

Best Buy Gift Card Policies, Rules & Fees

14. Starbucks

15. Macy's

Macy's E-gift Card Offers

16. Bed Bath & Beyond

Details About Bed, Bath & Beyond Gift Cards

17. JCPenney

JCPenney Last-Minute E-gift Card and E-gift Certification Options

18. Olive Garden

19. Kroger

20. Trader Joe's

The average amount spent on gift cards, the percentage of people who purchased gift cards, and the number of people who said they preferred receiving a gift card all were increasing in 2010 according to research from the National Retail Federation (NRF). Looking back to the 2010 trends in gift card spending in the U.S. provides insight into the current explosion in gift card popularity in 2015.

Retail restaurant gift cards increased at both quick service and casual dining restaurants in 2010, as well as merchandise retailers in 2010. More restaurant gift cards were bought, the average purchase was higher, and the percentage of gift cards that were reloaded all increased in 2010.

It's obvious that gift cards were gaining popularity as far back as 2010. But which gift cards were popular with U.S. consumers five years ago, and how does that compare with the gifts cards that are most popular with U.S. consumers today?

What follows is a list of the retail gift cards that consumers wanted to receive, spend and redeem the most in 2010, according to a survey by This list is not necessarily the cards that were purchased or given the most, rather it is a list of the gift cards that were most popular with consumers who hoped to receive them.

Sixteen of the twenty most popular gift cards were retail gift cards, which makes sense since the majority of gift cards issued in the U.S. are from businesses in the retail industry. This list is arranged according to the popularity number assigned to each retailer, out of twenty of the most popular gift cards, according to the responses of 6,000 survey participants.

1. Walmart


3. Target

5. Home Depot

6. Lowe's

7. Costco

8. Best Buy

9. Starbucks

10. Walgreens

11. CVS

13. Bed Bath & Beyond

14. McDonald's

16. Whole Foods

Whole Foods Allows Customers to Use Gift Cards on Mobile Phones

17. Shell

18. ExxonMobil

19. BP