Gap offers one of the most flexible gift cards among retailers. For starters, this gift card can be redeemed at any one of the Gap-owned retailers: Gap (including BabyGap. GapKids, GapBody, as well as factory and outlet stores), Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta. Moreover, Gap gift cards can be purchased and redeemed online or at stores, are shipped for free when purchased online, or can be delivered electronically. Gap-owned stores' gift cards do not expire, can be reloaded, offer online balance check and are protected against loss or theft. There is also no purchase fee or maintenance or dormancy fees (as is the case with all closed-loop cards).
ScripSmart.com ranks Gap's gift cards, giving all five sister stores a score of 98, landing them among the top 10 plastic gift cards. ScripSmart says they like that cards are redeemable at all in-store locations, there are a variety of ways to check card balance (in-store, online and by phone) and cash back is offered when card value falls below $5. The Gap gift card also receives kudos from RSR Research, which ranks it among the best electronic gift cards for 2011. Purchase experience is one of five factors considered in RSR's rankings, which put Gap's electronic gift card at fifth place among the top 100 online retailers. Gap also lands at the top for e-gift card personalization. Gap's wide array of redemption options also makes it one of Esquire magazine's recommended gift cards. Esquire suggests a Gap gift card for the "insatiable shopper" on your holiday list.
User gift card reviews are not widely available, though users do provide some feedback on Gap companies' websites. Nearly 30 reviewers give the Gap Options card (branded with all five store logos, available online only) an average of about 4.5 stars. Most reviews are positive, though a few reviewers claim the card cannot be personalized. In fact, the card can be personalized by hand, if delivered to you, or during the checkout process, if shipped directly to the recipient. However, multiple reviewers claim to have the same problem, so perhaps Gap's personalization process is not straightforward enough.
CreditCards.com surveys top retailers, restaurants and airlines annually. In its 2011 round-up, the site does not specifically offer its top picks for gift cards, but instead, lists features provided by each card. Of the closed-loop card sellers, Gap, Best Buy, JCPenney, Kmart, Lowe's, Macy's, Nordstrom, Sears, Staples, Starbucks and Wal-Mart offer the most flexibility. They do not charge dormancy or maintenance fees, do not expire, are reloadable, offer online balance check, can be delivered electronically or shipped for free, and card funds will be replaced if lost or stolen. CreditCards.com does not gauge subjective elements like user satisfaction or ease of redemption.
Review: 2011 Gift Card Comparison Chart, Juan Rodriguez, Kate Tomasino and Matt Schulz, Oct. 26, 2011
ScripSmart uses a patent-pending algorithm to rate the "consumer friendliness" of a gift card, resulting in a score between 0 and 100, and the top 10 plastic, electronic and bank gift cards are ranked. All five Gap Brand stores (Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta and Piperlime) score 98 for their plastic cards. ScripSmart also links to an individual card page listing specific pros and cons. The downside to ScripSmart's review is that the company doesn't list specific attributes that contribute to "consumer friendliness."
Review: ScripSmart's Top Scoring Gift Cards, Editors of ScripSmart.com, As of Nov. 2011
RSR Research surveyed the top 100 online retailers to determine the best electronic gift cards. While 40 percent of those retailers don't offer electronic gifting options at all, Gap has one of the top five best electronic gift cards. According to this press release, reprinted at MarketWatch.com, the survey considered "the comprehensiveness of the offering, the selection experience, the purchase experience, and the recipient experience" when ranking the best of the best. Gap also ranked tops for e-card personalization.
Review: RSR Research Finds 40 Percent of Top 100 Online Retailers are Missing a Multi-Billion Dollar Opportunity, Pauline Louie, Oct. 19, 2011
4. Esquire magazine
Esquire lists its 12 favorite gift cards for those hard-to-shop-for people on your holiday list. While smaller, less-known retailers earn most of the top spots, the Gap Options gift card is named the best for the "insatiable shopper." Esquire praises Gap's free shipping for gift cards and the wide array of redemption options.
Review: The Best Gift Cards on Earth, Alexandra Ilyashov, 2011
Nearly 30 reviewers offer opinions on this gift card, branded with all five Gap stores' logos and available online only. The card earns about 4.5 stars, but some reviewers said they weren't able to customize the card's packaging. A personal message can, in fact, be written by hand, if delivered to the giver, or during the checkout process, if delivered directly to the recipient. Reviewers comments may reveal that Gap's personalization process is too complicated, though.
Review: Options GiftCard, Contributors to Gap.com