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Compare specialty gift cards

Forgo frugality just a little with gifts that cater to special interests

By Sharon Anne Waldrop

Specialty gift cards

The cash that used to be devoted to hobbies and special indulgences is most likely being diverted to fund more practical items these days. With that in mind, holiday gift givers might want to consider giving a specialty gift card that encourages recipients to temporarily forgo frugality, despite the glum economy.

According to November 2008 data published by Tower Group, the sales of general purpose gift cards are projected to surpass those of merchant gift cards. The overarching theory behind the increase is the recipient's ability to choose when and how to spend the money rather than being forced to spend money at a particular store.

When getting a specialty gift card from a store that caters to one of their hobbies or interests, however, recipients will have no choice but to splurge on themselves.

Here is a comparison chart of specialty gift card merchants who cater to what your friends and family might really want -- and secretly crave -- for the holidays.

never expiresNever expires use online or by phoneUse online or by phone theft and loss protectionLoss/theft protection
ecard availableeCard available online balance checkOnline balance check  
line
 
never expires
use online or by phone
theft and loss protection
ecard available
online balance check
Birdfeeding
The Backyard Bird
yes
yes
 
yes

Bestnest.com

yes
     
Duncraft
yes
yes

   
Baking
CHEFS
yes
yes

 

Crate and Barrel
yes
yes
yes
 
yes
Williams-Sonoma
yes
yes

 
yes
Beading and jewelry making
Auntie's Beads
yes
yes

 

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads
yes
yes
yes
   
Shipwreck Beads
yes
yes

 

Chocaholics
Ethel's Chocolate Lounge

yes
yes


Fannie May Chocolates
yes
yes
yes
   
See's Candies
yes
yes

 

Coffee lovers
Café Britt
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
Flying Bean

yes
yes


SpecialtyJava.com
yes

yes
yes

Crafts
Crafts, etc.
yes
yes

 

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores
yes
yes
 
yes
yes
Michael's
yes

yes
 
yes
 
never expires
use online or by phone
theft and loss protection
ecard available
online balance check
line
never expiresNever expires use online or by phoneUse online or by phone theft and loss protectionLoss & theft protection
ecard availableeCard available online balance checkOnline balance check  
line
 
never expires
use online or by phone
theft and loss protection
ecard available
online balance check
Gardening
Gardener's Supply Company
yes
yes

yes

MasterGardening.com

yes
   

Plow and Hearth

yes

 

Golfing
Golfsmith  
yes
 
yes
 
In the Hole Golf
yes
yes
 
yes
 
Pinemeadowgolf.com

yes

yes

Horseback riding
Back in the Saddle
yes
yes

yes
 
Dover Saddlery  
yes
 
yes
 
State Line Tack
yes
yes

yes

Outdoor enthusiasts
REI
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
Sports Authority
yes
yes

yes

Sport Chalet
yes

 
yes

Reading
Better World Books

yes
 
yes

Books-A-Million
yes*
yes
 
yes
 
Half Price Books
yes
yes

   
line
never expiresNever expires use online or by phoneUse online or by phone theft and loss protectionLoss & theft protection
ecard availableeCard available online balance checkOnline balance check  

*eCard expires after one year; regular gift card never expires.

(chart design by Tyler Metzger)

See related: Gift cards 2008: Special section, As holidays tighten, gift cards remain popular, 2008 gift card comparison chart, Top 10 creative ways to wrap gift cards, Tips: Don't let those gift cards expire

Published: December 23, 2008


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