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Airline gift card comparison chart

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Though retail gift cards have been around for more than a decade, airline gift cards are relatively new. Six domestic airlines -- many of which already were selling paper or electronic gift certificates -- started offering gift cards in the past few years. In most cases, buyers of airline gift cards don't have to worry about the major snags associated with some retail gift cards. Most airline cards do not expire or diminish in value if the card goes unused, even for years. (See Giving the gift of flight with airline gift cards

There are still catches and restrictions to watch out for, though, and even questions about whether a gift card still will be good if an airline goes bankrupt or merges. To help you make the best choice, use the following chart as your guide for airline gift cards:

American Airlines
Amount: $50 to $1,500
Expires? No
Fees? No dormancy, service or maintenance fees
Transferable? Yes
Airlines on which it can be used: American Airlines, American Eagle and American Connections flights originating in the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico; electronic tickets for travel on any oneworld partner; codeshare flights with the designation AA*
Where to buy: Online at aa.com; by phone at (800) 677-9555; in Admirals Club lounges; at American Airlines travel centers or, in $50 or $100 denominations, at participating retailers, including Barnes & Noble, CVS, Publix, Safeway, Kroger, Vons and some Wal-Mart stores
E-mail option? Yes -- can deliver "virtual card" via e-mail
Shipping cost: $4.95 for FedEx standard for delivery in 4 to 5 business days; $15 for FedEx priority for delivery in 2 to 3 business days
Maximum number of cards that can be used at one time: 8
Card can be reloaded? No
Replacement of lost or stolen cards? No
Also offers gift certificates? No
Where it can be redeemed: Only American Airlines’ website at aa.com or by phone via American Airlines reservations

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US Airways
Amount: $50 to $500
Expires? No
Fees? No dormancy, service or maintenance fees
Transferable? Yes
Airlines on which it can be used: US Airways
Where to buy: Online at usairways.com, by phone at (800) 428-4322 or at Walgreens
E-mail option? No
Shipping cost: $15 for FedEx shipping
Maximum number of cards that can be used at one time: No maximum
Card can be reloaded? Yes, by calling the reservations center
Replacement of lost or stolen cards? Only with proof of purchase
Also offers gift certificates? No
Where it can be redeemed: Only through US Airways' reservations center at (800) 428-4322; cannot be redeemed online

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Southwest Airlines
Amount: $10 to $1,000; cards worth more than $1,000 can be purchased by following special instructions
Expires? No
Fees? None
Transferable? Yes
Airlines on which it can be used: Southwest Airlines or flights on codeshare partners purchased through Southwest Airlines
Where to buy: Online at southwest.com, by calling the reservations center, or at one of about 50 approved retailers, including Albertson's, CVS, KMart, Kroger, Price Chopper and Safeway
E-mail option? Yes
Shipping cost: $2.95 for United States Postal Service or $9.95 for Federal Express Standard Overnight; overnight shipping is free for a gift card of $500 or more
Maximum number of cards that can be used at one time: 4
Card can be reloaded? No
Replacement of lost or stolen cards? No
Also offers gift certificates? No
Where it can be redeemed: Online at southwest.com, through the reservations center or at Southwest ticket counters

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JetBlue Airways
Amount: $10 to $10,000
Expires? No
Fees? None
Transferable? Yes
Airlines on which it can be used: JetBlue Airways
Where to buy: Online at jetblue.com or in select retail stores
E-mail option? Yes
Shipping cost: $4.95 for FedEx Ground; $8.50 for FedEx 2-Day; $9.95 for FedEx Overnight
Maximum number of cards that can be used at one time: One per purchase at jetblue.com and four for a purchase through the reservations center at (800) JETBLUE
Card can be reloaded? No
Replacement of lost or stolen cards? Card may be replaced for the value of the remaining balance by showing proof of purchase
Also offers gift certificates? No
Where it can be redeemed: Online at jetblue.com or by calling (800) JETBLUE

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Frontier Airlines
Amount: $25 to $1,500
Expires? No
Fees? No
Transferable? Yes
Airlines on which it can be used: Frontier Airlines
Where to buy: Only online at frontierairlines.com/giftcard
E-mail option? Yes, but it takes seven days to activate the card. The recipient receives two e-mails -- one telling them about the gift and a second with a card and PIN.
Shipping cost: $8.95 for FedExSaver; $9.95 for FedEx 2nd-Day; $16.95 for Standard Overnight
Maximum number of cards that can be used at one time: Only one, but balances of separate cards can be merged
Card can be reloaded? No
Replacement of lost or stolen cards? No
Also offers gift certificates? Yes, in amounts up to $500
Where it can be redeemed: Only online at frontierairlines.com

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Hawaiian Airlines
Amount: $50 to $100
Expires? No
Fees? No dormancy, usage or maintenance fees
Transferable? Yes
Airlines on which it can be used: Hawaiian Airlines flights that originate in the United States
Where to buy: Only at selected retailers, including Safeway in cities where Hawaiian Airlines flies and Times Supermarket and Foodland locations in Hawaii
E-mail option? No
Shipping cost: n/a
Maximum number of cards that can be used at one time: 4
Card can be reloaded? No
Replacement of lost or stolen cards? No
Also offers gift certificates? Yes, can be purchased in amounts from $50 to $5,000 online at hawaiianair.com and will be sent to the recipient by e-mail
Where it can be redeemed: Only online at hawaiianair.com

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See related: Giving the gift of flight with airline gift cards

Published: December 22, 2008


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