Top 10 Gift Certificates to Give (and Receive!)

Here, our top picks for the 10 best GCs to give (and receive) this Christmas.

Gift certificates make great, fail-proof presents because they give the recipient the freedom to choose their own gift. The tricky thing here is choosing what GC to give-you don't want the recipient to be limited to one store or brand that he or she is not too keen on. Whether you like the electronic kind or prefer the handwritten version, we went ahead and did the research for you. Here are our top picks for the 10 best GCs to give this Christmas ranked according to versatility, accessibility, packaging, and item selection.

 

10. Bistro eGift Card


Where to use them: All branches of TGI Fridays, Italiannis, Fish & Co., and Flapjacks

Where to buy them: Same as above

Denominations: You can purchase any amount, but an initial load of P1,000 is required.

Packaging: It looks like a credit card and is reminiscent of the Bistro discount card.

Pros: Unlike other electronic gift cards, this one allows you to reuse and reload up to P10,000 on the card for up to 14 months upon purchase. After the initial P1,000 load, you can reload any amount you like.

Cons: You can't use it in the other Bistro Group restaurants such as Billy Rock, Pig Out, and Krazy Garlik.

9. Fully Booked


Where to use them: All branches of Fully Booked, Bibliarch, and Sketchbooks

Where to buy them: Same as above

Denominations: P300, P500, and P1,000

Packaging: The colorful graphics make it more appealing than regular gift checks.

Pros: Your selection isn't limited to books here; you may also pick from journals, art supplies, magazines, CDs, among others.

Cons: Unlike mainstream bookstores, there are less than 20 branches of Fully Booked in the country, and they are mostly in Metro Manila.

8. National Bookstore Gift Certificate

Where to use them: All National Bookstore branches

Where to buy them: Same as above

Denominations: P100 and P500

Packaging: No special packaging.

Pros: There are hundreds of NBS branches from Luzon to Mindanao, so you can purchase and use them wherever you prefer.

Cons: Your recipient must be the type who would appreciate books, office and school supplies, and materials for making arts and crafts.

7. SSI Purple Card


Where to use them: All SSI brands in Metro Manila and Cebu, plus all SSI subsidaries including Zara, Gap, and Marks & Spencer.

Where to buy them: Selected SSI stores

Denominations: Ranges from P1,000 to P10,000

Packaging: There are two purple designs to choose from, and each card comes in a purple case and gift bag.

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Pros: It works like a credit card-you can purchase different items in multiples of P100. SSI carries dozens of labels that are irresistible to fashionistas like Zara, Kenneth Cole, DKNY, Jimmy Choo, and Tod's.

Cons: The card is not reloadable. A number of SSI stores in the country don't honor the card.

6. Rustan's Gift Certificate


Where to use them: Rustan's Department Stores, Rustan's Supermarket, SSI Shops, and Shopwise

Where to buy them: Any Rustan's Concierge

Denominations: Ranges from P500-P5000

Packaging: You may opt for the Rustan's Supermarket gift card, which is available in denominations of P300, P500 and P1000, and may be customized with a photo or personal message.

Pros: Rustans carries high-end mall brands such as Juicy Couture and Lacoste, and designer labels such as D&G and Kate Spade, so it makes a great gift for people with a more upscale taste in shopping.

Cons: The Rustans Supermarket gift card, available at the supermarket customer service, is more flexible than the Rustans gift certificate because you can make multiple gift card purchases until the credit runs out.

5. Robinsons Gift Certificate


Where to use them: Robinsons Department Stores, Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Appliances, Handyman Do It Best Home Center, Handyman Do It Center, Toys "R" Us, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Warehouse

Where to buy them: Robinsons Departments Stores and affiliates

Denominations: P100 and P500

Packaging: No special packaging.

Pros: Aside from over 28 branches Robinsons branches, you may use the GCs in all branches of Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, and Warehouse.

Cons: The Robinsons Gift Card is more versatile than the gift certificate (you may have multiple purchases until the credit runs out), but they stopped producing it.

4. Ultimate Gifts and Adventures


Where to use them: Hundreds of gift offers and locations to choose from

Where to buy them: Online, or call (02) 749-1343, (02) 749-1588, (0929) 952-1720, (0922) 860-1296, (922) 860-1298, or

Denominations: Ranges from P2,000 to P100,000+

Packaging: The gift voucher comes in the color code you purchased and is arranged in a gift box that contains a booklet and menu of packages from Ultimate Gifts and Adventures.

Pros: The online store offers personalized shopping. First, you can make your selection by category-gourmet, health and fitness, travel, and lifestyle. Then you can pick a gift voucher based on budget via a color palette that shows you the various denominations (i.e. the violet voucher costs P2,000). Next, you can choose from spa treatments, martial arts sessions, magazine subscriptions, among others. The red voucher costs P45,000 and you can choose from resort passes to adventure trips. The gifts are also categorized according to the status of your recipient (single, couple, kids, family, and group) and your recipient's preferred location (Tagaytay, Puerto Gallera, Boracay, etc.).

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Cons: The online process may seem intimidating in the beginning, but it's fun once you get the hang of it.

3. Ayala Malls Electronic Gift Certificate


Where to use them: Glorietta, Greenbelt, Alabang Town Center, Ayala Center Cebu, Market! Market!, Bonifacio High Street, Serendra, TriNoma, and Marquee Mall. It's accepted in over 100 stores including Ayala cinemas.

Where to buy them: A-Card booths at the Ayala Malls

Denominations: P500 and P1,000

Packaging: Looks like a credit card.

Pros: You can purchase small amounts in separate stores until you use up the remaining credit.

Cons: Some Ayala stores don't accept e-GC purchases below P100.

2. SM Gift Card


Where to use them: SM Department Stores, SM Supermarket, SM Hypermart, SM Savemore Market, Makro, Ace Hardware, Ace Builders, Toy Kingdom, SM Appliance Center, Surplus, Our Home, Watsons, Sports Central, Kultura Filipino, Baby Company, Forever 21, Triumph, Adidas, and selected branches of Dockers, Levi's and Nike.

Where to buy them: All SM Departments Stores and selected retailers

Denominations: P500 and P1,000

Packaging: You can choose from different card designs that suit the occasion-birthday, wedding, Christmas, baptism, christening, corporate, and the all-occasion card design.

Pros: You can use the card multiple times until the load runs out. You may even check your balance online. If you're old school and prefer gift certificates, SM Gift Passes are available in P100, P200, and P500 denominations too.

Cons: SM has also tied up with Sodexo, so you may be torn between the Sodexo and SM gift card at the customer service.

1. Sodexo


Where to use them: Over 4,000 stores nationwide. Just look for the Sodexo acceptance signage.

Where to buy them: Premium Passes are available at Sodexo, Unit 2004 The Orient Square Bldg. Emerald Ave., Ortigas Center Pasig, or call 687-2222. Gift Passes are available at all SM department stores.

Denominations: P100 to P2500 for Premium Passes; P50 to P2,500 for Gift Passes

Packaging: No special packaging.

Pros: The Premium Pass is accepted by over 4,000 merchants. You may add a personal message, company logo, or your company president's signature on the Premium Pass voucher. The Gift Pass has the same features as the Premium pass, but can go as low as P50 and may be customized to feature a specific brand or product.

Cons: The Premium Pass is available to corporate accounts only, and you have to purchase them in the Pasig office.

Photos from www.ph.sodexo.com, www.smgiftcard.com.ph, www.myayalamalls.com, www.ultigifts.com, www.robinsonsdepartmentstore.com.ph, www.rustansupercenters.com, www.ssigroup.com.ph, www.nbsstores.com, www.fullybookedonline.com, www.bistro.com.ph

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