For many years I wrote about the best gift card deals during the holiday season and throughout the year. I did this in my role as a contributor to Parade.com.
Every year, without fail, restaurants and retailers would offer some kind of gift card deal. For example, if you bought $100 in Panera Bread gift cards, you would get a free $25 gift card. So, in essence, you were getting $125 worth of gift cards for just $100.
On the other hand, you could look at these gift card deals as a way to earn free gift cards. So in the example where you spend $100 on gift cards, you could say that you’re getting a $25 gift card for free. Either way, these are the kinds of deals I’m always taking advantage of when I’m in the market for gift cards.
How to get the best deals on gift cards this year
There are many ways to snag yourself a deal on gift cards this year. Some are straightforward, such as the deals I’ve described above.
Others might be connected to a credit card you already have in your wallet. Finally, this year it’s possible to get buy now pay later gift cards through companies as varied as Afterpay and Apple Pay.
Restaurant and retailer gift card deals
We’re a sucker for any gift deals at restaurants and retailers. As I mentioned at the start of this article, whenever Panera Bread had a deal to earn free gift cards when you buy gift cards, we are totally there for that.
Panera Bread is hardly alone in offering these deals. Sometimes referred to as BOGO deals–BOGO standing for Buy One, Get One–one year I found nearly two dozen national restaurants offering these kinds of gift card deals.
A great way to hear first about BOGO offers for free gift cards is to sign up for your favorite restaurant or retailer’s loyalty program. You’ll also get other benefits from loyalty program memebership.
One, some of these businesses will send you a free gift for your birthday. And two, some of these same businesses will give you a second freebie on your wedding anniversary–if you’re married, that is.
Here are the gift card deals I’ve found for this holiday season.
Best restaurant holiday gift card deals available now
Chuck E Cheese
Now through 12/31/22 get a $10 Bonus Card with your gift card purchase of $50 or more. Valid only and for U.S. locations only.
Maximum of four bonus cards per guest at participating locations.
Bonus card, available for use 1/1/2023 – 2/28/2023, is not valid on birthday parties or group events.
Darden Restaurant gift cards
When you spend $500 or more on Darden Restaurant electronic or e-gift cards, you’ll get a bonus gift card worth 10% of what you spent on these gift cards.
- Keep in mind Darden Restaurants own these brands:
- Olive Garden
- LongHorn Steakhouse
- Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen
- Yard House
- The Capital Grille
- Seasons 52
- Bahama Breeze
- Eddie V’s.
Save 5% on Happy Holidays Dining gift cards! Use code LETSEAT. Good through 11/30/22.
From 11/23 to 12/31, with every $25 gift card purchase (in-store only), guests will receive a $5 bonus card which can be redeemed 1/1/23-2/28/23.
Miller’s Ale House
Buy $50, get $10. Offer is valid now-12/31/2022. Bonus card valid 1/1-2/28/2023.
Robeks is a popular destination for creatively crafted juices, smoothies, acai bowls and toasts, with about 90 locations across the US.
This year, Robeks will be offering a special where a guest can purchase $30 in gift cards and receive a $5 voucher for good until Feb. 2023.
Black Friday restaurant gift card deals
Cyber Monday restaurant gift card promotions
Jersey Mike Subs
Starting on Cyber Monday, November 28, Jersey Mike’s Subs will offer their annual gift card promotion.
Customers who purchase $25 in online gift cards will receive a $5 gift card for free.
This is while supplies last and only valid with online gift cards.
Giving Tuesday restaurant gift card deals
Restaurant gift card deals starting in December
Peter Piper Pizza
Buy a gift card online and receive a free bonus:
- $25 gift card = $5 bonus card
- $50 gift card = $10 bonus card
- $100 gift card = $20 bonus card
Promotion available from 12/07/2022 – 01/01/2023. Online only. Maximum bonus card amount of $20 per guest.
From 12/19 through 12/25, you’ll get a $5 gift card with $25 gift card purchase.
Or, you’ll get a $10 gift card with a $50 gift card purchase (limit of 4 cards).
Select locations only.
Save on Spafinder Gift Card Deals 2022
There are two levels to the savings you get when buying Spafinder gift cards (one of my favorite gifts to receive for the holidays):
- Score 25% off $200+ in Spafinder gift cards with code 2022XMAS Now through January 1st, 2023
- Take 20% off $150+ in Spafinder gift cards with code XMASBOOST Now through January 16th, 2023
Buy Now Pay Later gift card deals
These days you can buy now and pay later for pretty much anything you buy. This year that includes gift cards.
Look to companies like Afterpay and even Apple to find gift cards that you can buy now and then pay for later. Just make sure you don’t spend more than you can actually afford.
Keep in mind that buy now pay later gift cards are basically an interest-free loan for your purchase. However, if you miss any payments, you’ll get hit with a hefty fee.
So stay on top of those payments. Otherwise this won’t be a gift card deal at all.
Free gift cards with credit card rewards
We have two credit cards in our wallets that let us earn free gift cards each year. So every November we go into our accounts and cash in rewards points for free gift cards.
This rewards’ option has allowed us to get thousands of dollars in gift cards without spending any extra money. If you’re in the market for a new credit card and love getting gift cards, I would recommend looking for one that offers this kind of option.
Get your gift cards at your favorite warehouse club
You can save on gift card purchases with certain warehouse club memberships. Sam’s Club, for example, offers its Extreme Value Gift Card program. It saves members up to 20 percent on 50 new lifestyle and restaurant brand gift cards not previously available at warehouse clubs.
BJs Wholesale Club gift cards
BJs Wholesale Club offers a similar deal on its gift cards. For example, as of this writing, you could buy $45 worth of Domino’s Pizza gift cards for $35.99. You can see all the BJs gift card offers here.
Costco gift cards
Finally, Costco offers these kinds of gift card deals, too. However, instead of just restaurant savings, you can get discounts on other kinds of gift cards as well.
For example, you can buy a $500 Southwest Airlines gift cards for $449.99. Or, you can get a Cinemark movie gift card worth $50 for $39.99.
Costco Membership Deal
- Join as a new Executive Member and enroll in auto renewal to receive a $20 Digital Costco Shop Card.
- Or, join as a new Gold Star Member and enroll in auto renewal to receive a $10 Digital Costco Shop Card.
Legal disclaimer: To receive a Digital Costco Shop Card, you must provide a valid email address and set up auto renewal of your Costco membership on a Visa® card at the time of sign-up. If you elect not to provide a valid email address and sign up for auto renewal, a Digital Costco Shop Card will not be emailed.
Valid only for nonmembers for their first year of membership. Not valid for renewal or upgrade of an existing membership.
To qualify as a new member, an existing Costco membership must be expired at least 18 months or more. Limit one promotion per household. Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed to the email address provided by the primary member at time of sign-up. within 2 weeks after successful sign-up and enrollment in auto renewal. Costco is not liable for incentives not received due to entry of an invalid address during sign-up.
*Use the provided single-use promo code when entering your payment information. (Note: You will see a $0.01 deduction on your membership cost after the promo code is entered. This indicates that your promo code has been successfully processed so your incentive will be emailed.) New members will not receive the promotion if the provided code is not entered at checkout when purchasing the membership.
Purchase gift cards online
There are so many options for purchasing gift cards online. Also, with this option, you can buy a gift card last minute and have it emailed to the receipient.
Of course, you can buy gift cards from major retailers like Target, Best Buy and Amazon. However, there are gift card resellers and online sites that have great deals on gift cards, too. In fact, some of them are mentioned in my article on how to sell gift cards for cash. That’s a great idea if you need to raise some extra cash for the holidays.
You can buy all kinds of gift cards on the online marketplace called Giftcards.com. This includes gift cards from popular retailers like Lululemon (a favored brand of Peloton instructors) and Victoria’s Secret, including Victoria’s Secret Pink.
Always keep your gift card receipt
Some retailers are able to reissue a lost gift card if consumers have kept the original purchase receipt. So, if you’ve bought a gift card at a retailer and can get a gift receipt, definitely give it to the receipient.
This way if something goes wrong with the gift card, you’ve got a receipt to prove payment. Because things can go wrong when you buy gift cards, even from a reputable retailers.
Make sure gift card is activated
For example, one year our daughter got a gift card for her birthday. The amount of the gift card was right there on the front. However, when my daughter went to use it at the big box store where it was purchased, she discovered the gift card was blank.
Turns out the cashier is supposed to activate the gift card when it is purchased. However, I got the sense that my daughter’s friend just plucked the gift card off the kiosk and walked out with it. Mind you, I don’t think they were trying to scam the store–I just think they didn’t understand this extra step that you always need to do to activate a gift card. Thus the reason to hold onto that receipt.
Spend your gift card, don’t save it
If you receive a retailer-specific gift card, make sure you spend it. There are a couple of reasons for this.
One, if it’s a freebie gift card, like the kind you earn through a BOGO deal, it’s likely going to expire quickly. For example–and sorry to keep using the Panera Bread examples but it’s the one we do every year–the free $25 Panera gift card we get from buying others in December usually expires by February. I imagine others have similar terms and conditions.
Two, sometimes retailers go out of business. And when they go out of business, their gift cards become worthless. Years ago I wrote an article for Parade on how holders of Toys R Us gift cards could trade them in for other gift cards. This kind of deal is rare.
Final thoughts on best gift card deals this year
Finally, you can always use gift cards as part of your holiday tipping strategy.