It is difficult to pick out just the right gift card for the entire team. In fact, only 32% of business gifters feel confident in selecting and giving gifts according to the Business Gifting Strategy Report.  Everyone is unique and has their own interests and one branded gift card doesn’t seem to fit everyone.

So, what are my options for picking gift cards for employees?

Gift Cards for Employees

Decide What Gift Card to Give Your Employees

There are 3 types of gift cards that employers can give out. Those being branded gift cards, prepaid gift cards, and swap cards.

Branded Gift Cards

A branded gift card is a gift card that can be redeemed for merchandise at one retailer. These are the gift cards that most of us are given. Amazon, Starbucks, Target are all branded gift cards. Buying a branded gift card can be tough when you need to motivate, thank or reward a large group of people. Not everyone likes the same thing but it’s a great solution for corporations to just have one option that they hand out.

Prepaid Gift Cards

A prepaid gift card acts like a credit card. Recipients can use them wherever Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express are excepted. They can use them for groceries or a splurge at their favorite store. The flexibility is appealing to corporations because it leaves the guesswork out of giving something they really enjoy. However, prepaid gift cards come with fees for the gifter and sometimes the giftee.

Swap Gift Cards

Swap cards are less known than branded and prepaid gift cards but have been around for years. They are a blend of prepaid cards and a branded cards. Swap cards give you the flexibility of a prepaid card without all the fees. A swap card acts like a credit on a gift card site and allows the recipient to pick out any branded gift card that is available. Most swap cards have hundreds of options available including most of the branded favorites.

All three of these options have pros and cons. Figure out which is best for you and give it in a thoughtful manner so your employees feel appreciated or motivated.

Gift Cards and Taxes

Taxes are always a concern when giving gift cards to employees. As a general rule of thumb, most companies don’t report gifts $50 and below as additional employee income, but laws and policies vary by company and state so check with your HR or Accounting groups.

When Do Employers Give Gift Cards to Employees?

Now that you understand the different types of gift cards, when is the right time to send your gift? There are so many opportunities to dole out gift cards for employees but here are some of the most popular.

Employee Appreciation

Congratulate your employees for a job well done after finishing a big project or just to say thanks. Spot awards for a small thank you are a great time to give out lower denomination gift cards like $10. You appreciate the work your team or individuals do every day, so show them with a small act of kindness! Big Project celebrations usually call for a larger gift card denomination like $50 or $100. We also encourage impromptu gifts on fun holidays like National Ice Cream Day or May the 4th be with you. Unexpected pats on the back go a long way to make someone feel appreciated.

Sales Rewards

Celebrate surpassing your sales goals by rewarding employees with a gift card. Don’t forget some of the small milestones as well such as hitting your call number or companies in the funnel. It’s important to keep them motivated to fill the funnel and also close the deal.

Employee Wellness Gifts

Motivate employees to take steps, eat well, get routine check-ups and stay balanced with gift cards. Many companies set up healthy living contests and reward gift cards to those who participate.

Birthday, Retirement, and Holiday Gifts

Lastly, honor all of the special occasions in your employee’s life. Whether they’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary with the company, retirement, or a holiday, show that you value them. These are special moments that deserve a bit of celebration! 

Where’s the Best Place to Buy Gift Cards for Employees?

Next, let’s discuss the best places to buy gift cards for employees. Depending on your needs, there are better places to buy gift cards from than others. Regardless of the way you buy the gift card, make sure it’s one that is thoughtful and one they will love. Here are the three places you can look. 

Grocery Stores

One of the most known places to buy gift cards. It’s a perfect spot if you just need a couple of gift cards quickly and are looking for a large variety. Grocery stores by law can not sell over $2,000 per day to one person. If you are trying to purchase a large order, you’ll need to go elsewhere or spread your purchase out over multiple days. Limited denominations are available as well. Some brands only have $25, $50, or $100 or others might start at $10.  The good news is that the $25 gift card is the most common denomination gifted. Finally, if you need to send some of the gift cards digitally, you’ll need to find an online source. Only plastic can be purchased at the grocery.

Retailer or Restaurant's Store or Website

You can also find gift cards for employees directly at the store or restaurant or online. For example, you can go directly to a Starbucks or online at  This limits you to just a specific brand, but you do have more design options available to you. The gift card can say ‘Thanks’, ‘Congrats’ or maybe ‘Happy Birthday’. If you order at the store, there is typically a $2,000 limit per day. If you order online, most retailers offer a corporate gift card option where you can purchase in bulk. Also, a large number of retailers and restaurants don’t charge for shipping.  Digital and plastic gift cards are typically available online.

Gift Card Site

Lastly, you can always order gift cards online through a specialized gift card site like BuyGiftCards. This means you have access to hundreds of brands, different denominations, and you don’t have to worry about a minimum or maximum order per day. Better yet, you can send your gift card right away through email or text, or send it traditionally through the mail. 

Top Gift Cards Picked by Employees

It’s time to talk about the gift cards your employees actually want. These are the most popular gift card ideas for employees based on their preferences. It’s all about thinking about gifts that are meaningful to them. 

BGC Card

BGC Card

When in doubt, always choose a BGC Card. These gift cards can be redeemed for any of the gift cards on our website, letting your team choose exactly what they want. From food delivery to retail, there’s nothing they can’t find here. 

Coffee Cards

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Gift Card

Who doesn’t love a coffee pick-me-up? Treat your employees to a midday java boost with a Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf gift card. This is something everyone will love, and it’s perfect for those just-because gifts.

Chipotle Gift Card

Chipotle Gift Card

Having a nice lunch out to look forward to is the perfect way to take a break during a hard day of work. Chipotle makes it easy to grab delicious food on the go, whether your employee’s treating themselves to lunch or dinner out. 

Panara Gift Card

Panera Gift Card

Another lunchtime favorite is Panera. With soups, salads, sandwiches, and delicious baked goods, you can’t go wrong with this gift card idea. Whether they eat lunch out or grab something to bring into the office, this is a great pick. 

Bath & Body Works Gift Card

For a self-care treat, Bath & Body Works takes the cake. Perfect for finding the right candle, skincare, or goodies that make life a bit better. This makes an ideal holiday gift for employees too!

Apple Gift Card

Apple Gift Card

Apple is a favorite, trusted brand for a reason. Your employees can use an Apple gift card to purchase electronics, movies, TV shows, music, and so much more. It’s the ultimate digital gift for a night in.

Home Depot Gift Card

The Home Depot Gift Card

For employees that are always up to a home improvement project, a Home Depot gift card is a fun idea. Make sure your employees have everything they need for their next DIY upgrade, house project, or more. 

Doordash Gift Card

Doordash Gift Card

Tonight, dinner is on you! Treat your employees to their favorite takeout with a Doordash gift card. Not only can they choose from any local restaurant, but they might discover a new favorite in their own neighborhood. 

Target Gift Card

Last but not least, who doesn’t love a Target run? This gives your employees the freedom to pick up anything they need, from toiletries to groceries to office supplies. This is a special treat for any team member, perfect for birthdays and holidays. 


The Gift Cards Your Employees Want

Too many companies find themselves overwhelmed when it comes to gift-giving. In reality, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Less really is more, and your employees will appreciate having the chance to buy something on their own with a gift card. All of these gift card ideas for employees above are a great fit, whether you’re honoring a birthday, anniversary with the company, or just saying thanks. It’s always important to practice gratitude, especially when your team works hard every day!