12 Best Gift Cards in Canada

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Usually when you’re at loss at what item to gift a person, or not sure of a gift item, the next best thing is a gift card. Giving gift cards is a very common practice among Canadians. And when it comes to gift card ideas, the options are endless.

Many Canadians often search the web for the best gift cards available, either for free or purchase. Getting a gift card depends on what you intend to buy, or where the person you’re giving the card likes to shop.

What is a Gift Card?

A gift card is a prepaid debit card with a specific amount used as an alternative to cash for various forms of purchases in a retail store. To be honest, you can’t know what every individual needs at every particular time, hence, the importance of gift cards.

The interesting thing about gift cards is that the recipient of the card can use it to pick precisely what he or she wants at the store.

How Do Gift Cards Work?

Gift cards or gift vouchers are prepaid debit cards loaded with funds that can be used for future purchases. Gift cards are issued by banks, credit card companies, or retail merchants as a cash substitute within that retail outlet or enterprise.

Also, gift cards are oftentimes distributed by organizations to their customers or employees as a form of reward or loyalty gift.

Similarly, gift cards can be used as promotional tactics by marketing companies or retailers to attract more customers to their business or store. The purchase of gift cards is often common during the holiday season. This is because people prefer to give out and receive gift cards as an alternative to selecting a specific gift that the receiver might not necessarily need.

A gift card has similar characteristics like a credit card, with unique code or numbers. However, unlike credit or debit cards, gift cards do not carry any name, and thus can be used by any individual.

The card can also work in line with an electronic system, such that it can be registered online to alleviate the risk of losses. With the online registration, the balance on the gift cards can be tracked and frozen in the event of a card loss.

Just like your plastic credit card, many gift cards come with bar code, serial numbers or magnetic strip that can be read by electronic credit card devices. The gift cards are protected by encryptions and the magnetic strip on the card cannot be read by standard equipment.

Gift cards have become so popular, as it gives the holder of the card, the freedom and flexibility to purchase whatever they want with the preloaded amount of money. Besides, there are gift cards that can be redeemed for cash, depending on the type and issuer of the card.

Types of Gift Cards

There are basically three types of gift cards.

Retail Gift Cards (Closed Loop)

The retail or closed-loop gift cards are often sold or marketed by retail stores and restaurants, and can only be redeemed specifically at the particular store or merchant’s website. The restriction of the card implies that it can only be used with a single merchant (store or website).

Closed-loop cards do not display the logo of the processor but may display the logo of the merchant, as a form of advertising the store. However, retail gift cards often have validity dates and are normally not reloadable, such that the card has no further use once the balance on it is spent. A good example of a closed-loop card is the Walmart gift card.

Bank Gift Cards (Open Loop)

These are known as cash cards, open loop or network cards, and are issued by banks and credit card companies. Open lop cards can be used at various merchants just like regular credit cards. Invariably, these cards display the logo of the payment processor.

The open-loop gift cards are provided by major credit card issuers and processors like American Express, MasterCard, Discover, and Visa.

Open-loop cards are mostly reloadable, that is, it can be funded by the holders of the card. Besides, it can be used for all types of online or electronic payments.

Digital or Virtual Gift Cards

The digital gift cards, also known as virtual gift cards or e-gift cards are gift codes from retail stores. These gift card codes are delivered through email, SMS, and mobile app, which can further be used at the store or online. These virtual gift cards like virtual credit cards have instant delivery to their intended user, and can be printed by the owner of the gift codes.

Best Gift Cards in Canada

The following are some of the most popular and best gift cards in Canada:

1. Editor’s Choice: Best Online Gift Card in Canada

No other gift card offers as much product options as the Amazon gift card. Regarded as the largest online retail store in Canada for all household items like electronics, books, toys, healthcare products, and more, Amazon’s online retail store has millions of amazing products for Canadians.

The Amazon Gift Card start from as low as $5CAD to over $2000CAD. The great thing about this card is that you can easily purchase it online and have it delivered to the recipient. There’s also an option of adding a personalised note, how cool is that?!

See all amazon gift card prices and options.

2. Happy Kid Gift Card

The Happy Kid Gift Card, issued by People’s Trust Company, can be used to make purchases at the Canadian retailers featured on the card, such as Indigo, The Children’s Place, Sport Chek, Master Mind Toys, and more.

3. Home Hardware Gift Cards and E-Gift Cards

Suitable for homeowners to shop for housewares, furniture, tools, plumbing and electrical pieces of equipment, sporting goods, and more, the Home Hardware Gift card is great for handy people. The home hardware gift card is available in virtual, mobile, or physical forms, and is non-refundable.

4. Gap and Banana Republic Gift Card

This gift card can be used online or at any store locations of Gap, Banana republic, Atlanta, and Old Navy. This gift card is issued by Gap (Canada) and Old Navy (Canada) corporations.

5. Rexall Gift Cards

The Rexall gift card can be used for the purchase of daily living products like health and beauty merchandise, at any Rexall and Rexall Pharma plus store in Canada.

6. Happy Active Gift Cards

The Happy gift card is issued by people’s trust company. This gift card can be used in-store at participating Sport Chek, Cabela’s, Gift Town, and Running Room locations in Canada. Other notable gift cards from Peoples Trust are:

  • Happy Dining Gift Cards For Ontario
  • Happy Dining For Western Canada
  • Happy Teen Gift Cards
  • Happy Student Gift Cards
  • Happy Her Prepaid Gift Cards
  • Happy Him Gift Cards

7. Sephora Gift Cards

Available in both plastic and e-gift cards, the Sephora gift card is great for people who are intentional about beauty routines. It is suitable for skincare, makeup, and perfume purchases. This card is redeemable at Sephora beauty stores in Canada and the U.S.

8. Cineplex E-Gift Cards

You can give the gift of a night at the movies with the Cineplex e-gift card.  This card can be used to purchase concessions, admissions, and merchandise at Cineplex movie theaters or online.

9. Best Buy E-Gift Cards

Get endless opportunities on name-brand home entertainment, electronics, kitchen appliances, laptops, and computer accessories, at any best buy store locations in Canada with the Best Buy e-Gift card.

10. Esso and Mobil E-Gift Cards

This gift card can be used to buy gas, car washes, snacks, and more at participating Esso and Mobil service stations in Canada. You can equally load it on the Speedpass app to pay at the pump.

11. Uber and Uber Eats E-Gift Cards

The Uber card code is redeemable via the Uber and Uber eats app within Canada to top up your Uber app or scroll through a list of restaurants near you.

12. Vanilla Gift Cards

Vanilla Gift Cards are prepaid gift cards loaded with funds for purchases. Vanilla Gift Cards are available in both MasterCard and Visa Card, and can be redeemed at millions of merchant locations where Visa and MasterCard are accepted for payment – either online or at any retail store.

Other notable gift cards are:

  • Apple/iTunes gift cards
  • Cadillac Fairview gift cards
  • Etsy gift cards
  • Hudson’s Bay gift cards
  • Shopper’s drug mart gift cards
  • Indigo e-gift cards
  • Star bucks gift cards
  • Tim Horton’s gift cards
  • Visa gift cards
  • Whole foods gift cards
  • Winners, Marshalls, and Home Sense gift cards
  • Walmart Canada e-gift cards, and more.

Smart Ways To Get Free Gift Cards in Canada

Getting a gift card is like being given a free cheque to spend on anything you like, such as books, clothes, videos, household items, groceries, and more. In Canada, there are numerous opportunities for getting free gift cards. Here are some smart ways to earn free gift cards in Canada:

  • Rakuten

One of the smart and favorite ways to earn free gift cards in Canada is by shopping with Rakuten. When you make a purchase from the over 2500 retail shops, Rakuten Canada earns a commission, and thus give you part of that commission as a reward. You can get a $5 Amazon gift card or PayPal payment from Rakuten after a complete purchase of $25 or more within 30 days.

  • Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a free rewards site that gives you points for taking surveys, watching videos, playing games, online shopping, and using the Swagbucks search engine. You can get gift card codes for as little as $3 to shop at your favorite stores like Amazon, eBay, and others. Similarly, you can purchase gift cards for discount prices from time to time.

  • Credit Card Rewards Redemptions

Another way to earn gift cards is through credit card loyalty programs. When you sign up for credit card programs, you are offered bonus points, and also earn points for every purchase. Some offer higher rewards for certain categories like travels or groceries. These reward points can be redeemed for gift cards which you can use for other purchases or cash.

  • My Points

Users of this platform can earn points for completing surveys, testing products, online panels, online shopping with coupons, watching videos, reading emails, playing games, and other activities. My Points gift cards are available to more than 75 retail partners where you can redeem your points for gift cards.

You can earn 5 points for reading emails, 400 points for market research surveys, 500 points to watch videos, 170 points to search the web, 8 points to play games, and more.

  • Paytm Canada

This mobile payment processor platform offers you the ability to earn rewards via your smartphones. Paytm rewards you to earn rewards points for your daily transactions like bills payment and buying e-gift cards. You can equally earn Paytm points for every $1 you spend on the platform, sign up bonus points, and bill payment.

You can earn and redeem your Paytm points for gift cards at different merchants like Amazon, Cineplex, and more.

  • Pampers Rewards Canada

When you become a Pampers Rewards member, you can earn points that can be redeemed for amazing gifts like gift cards. You can turn your baby diapers, wipes, and other baby products into rewards points and gifts for you and your little one.

The Reward points called Pampers PINs are located on the diaper package or wipes, which you can scan with the Pampers Club app. You can redeem your Pampers rewards for e-gift cards or other gift cards like Amazon, American eagle, Cineplex, Aerie, and more.

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Odeyemi O.

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Avid researcher, freelance writer, and personal finance enthusiast passionate about financial education and literacy.

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Kareena Maya

Personal Finance and Travel Rewards Expert Contributor

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.