Best Last Minute Gifts: E-Gift Cards and E-Certificates

Instant Digital Gift Ideas for Procrastinating Internet Shoppers

Tablet shopping
••• John Lamb/Digital Vision/Getty Images

E-gifts have become increasingly popular these days, especially because of their last-minute appeal. Ordering and paying for a gift from the luxury of your home (or local coffee shop) has pushed the e-commerce world to new heights. Not only is this form of shopping easy and convenient, it makes buying a last-minute gift possible.

Some e-gift cards even include special features, like offering several different designs, and letting you add personal photos and even video messages. You can choose custom dollar amounts for some as well, and set up a specific delivery time and date for your gift to arrive to the lucky recipient's email.

Many online e-gift sites let you see how the gift looks when it's received, so that you can see it as the recipient sees it. Many stores can also help you send an e-gift card from the store the next time you stop by; just walk in an ask the staff for help.

If you're not on the e-gift card and e-gift certificate bandwagon, it's time to think about joining the fold. Beyond the convenience that e-gift cards and e-gift certificates provide, they are becoming an essential offering for the largest U.S. retail chains who want to capture their share of the annual $200 billion e-gift card market.

The only caveat is to take your time when ordering your gift. The e-gift card issuer's obligation is fulfilled when digital delivery is successful, regardless of whether or not you entered the correct contact information and address for your recipient.
To help you in your e-gifting, here's a comprehensive list of e-commerce websites that offer e-gift cards and e-gift certificates. These can be purchased online and delivered digitally via email, SMS text, social media and via smartphone apps. This list is arranged by categories, according to the type of merchandise each retailer sells.

E-Gift Card and E-Gift Certificates by Shopping Category

Apparel Stores

  • Delivered via e-mail
  • Same day delivery upon payment approval
  • Denominations from $25 to $500
  • Redeemable at stores in the US and Canada
  • Redeemable online
  • Delivery dates can be scheduled for anytime, up to 60 days after the purchase
  • No extra fees
  • Value may be added to an e-gift card at any time
  • Redeemable for cash when the balance is less than $5
  • The e-gift card is sent on the date you choose
  • You can use the card at any U.S. Gap brand, Old Navy, Banana Republic, or Athleta
  • There is no expiration date

Books Stores

Computer/Consumer Electronics Stores

  • Can be purchased in amounts between $10 and $50
  • Gift certificates may not be used to purchase e-gift certificates
  • You are required to create an Apple ID in order to purchase
  • The e-gift certificate is emailed to the recipient’s email
  • A receipt for the e-certificate is emailed to you
  • You can order single cards or bulk orders from a mailing list
  • Redeemable at any Best Buy store in the U.S. or online
  • Full value remains on the card until it is used, without fees
  • E-gift cards can arrive within minutes
  • you can choose from multiple designs and personalize your message
  • There is no expiration date
  • You can use your e-gift card online or via your smartphone
  • Your credit card is charged at the time of purchase
  • You will only be charged the value of the e-gift card

Department Stores

  • Available in preset increments from $5 to $500
  • Email is sent to recipient within hours of purchase
  • No delivery fee
  • Can be used online and in store
  • E-gift cards never expire and are not subject to fees

Discount Department Stores

Drug Store

  • You are only charged the face value of the e-gift Card
  • You can cancel your purchase by contacting Customer Support
  • You can choose the date when the egift card alert message is sent
  • You can use your e-gift card at any CVS location
  • There is no expiration date

E-Commerce Retailers

Grocery and Supermarket

  • May be used only for the purchase of merchandise online
  • Cannot be used for payment on a Meijer credit card
  • Purchases do not qualify for Meijer Rewards
  • Meijer e-gift certificates are not redeemable for cash
  • Cannot be replaced without proof of purchase and PIN

Home Improvement Stores

  • e-gift cards have no fees
  • Valid with purchase at any store in the U.S.
  • Not redeemable for cash
  • Cannot be applied to Tool Rental or phone purchases
  • you can check your balance at any Home Depot store
  • You may not return or cancel an e-gift card

Luxury Department Stores

  • Neiman Marcus e-gift cards never expire
  • The e-gift card is sent to the recipient's email
  • Available in $25, $50, $100, $250, $300, $500, and $1,000 denominations
  • Neiman Marcus Virtual Gift Cards cannot be used to pay NM credit cards
  • Card will be emailed the following business day

Men's Clothing Stores

Movie and Music Stores

Office Supplies

  • May be purchased in any amount from $5 to $250
  • You can use your e-gift card at all U.S. Staples stores
  • There is no expiration date 
  • e-gift cards are not reloadable
  • No fees associated with purchase

Restaurant Chains

Specialty Stores

  • Available in denominations from $5 to $250
  • Emailed to the recipient within 48 hours
  • Can only be redeemed online
  • There are no shipping charges
  • Arrives via email or when scheduled
  • Can be personalized with your own message
  • Can be customized with your own photo
  • You can redeem online at www.coach.com
  • There is no expiration date
  • e-gift cards are not reloadable
  • Digital Gift Certificates are delivered within 48 hours
  • Digital certificates can include a gift message
  • You can order a preset or custom amount up to $500
  • Digital Gift Certificates may not be redeemed for cash
  • Use it online at Gamestop.com, EBgames.com, or in U.S. stores
  • Choose the date to send it
  • Can only be used online
  • Orders after 4:00 p.m. are processed the next day
  • Special offers do not apply to a gift card purchase
  • Online e-gift certificates are redeemable online only
  • Can be ordered in any amount starting from $5.00
  • Sent via email to any individual with a valid email address
  • The recipient must have a valid shipping address in the U.S.
  • The certificate’s code is activated within 24 hours