Compare specialty gift cards

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

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  

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  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

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

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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


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Updated: 02-20-2018