Buying a gift for a college student is tough. Even if you know the right size and color to buy that doesn’t mean that a friend won’t buy the same thing as you do. Trust me, there’s a limit on how many sweaters your student can take back to the store. That’s why so many people are relying on gift cards for college students.
The next question is how to choose. There is a never ending list of stores to choose from. Gift cards for college students aren’t just limited to brick and mortar stores. They’re so popular that even online stores are getting into the act.
Store cards almost never charge an additional fee. VISA and Mastercard prepaid cards almost always charge a fee. Almost every gift card will start charging a fee if not used within a year. The fee stops when the card is depleted.
Because there are so many gift cards for college students I went to the experts for help. My daughters are opinionated, in college and have friends. It didn’t take them long to come up with a list of top gift cards. Here are the most common answers they came up with.
No group of people are more in need of coffee than college students. Since no one does coffee better than Starbucks, this is a match made in heaven. Buy them locally or from the Starbucks website. Cards can be registered and reloaded later.
Kids get hungry when the dining halls are closed. When this happens the food of choice seems to be pizza. Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn, Domino’s, Godfather’s — The focus group we consulted never met a pizza they didn’t like.
Research before buying to find out what pizza place is best for your student. If you aren’t sure he or she will probably be happy to tell you.
Gift cards to fast food places such as McDonald’s and Wendy’s were mentioned. Pizza topped the list as the most enthusiastic response.
Kids don’t listen to the radio anymore. Those laptops, iPods, iPhones and MP3 players require music downloads. An iTunes gift card can be purchased online at the Apple Store or at places like Wal-Mart, Best Buy or Target.
A night at the moves
It’s hard to go wrong with movie tickets to a national theater chain like Regal or Carmike. An online search using “movie theaters in — .” will quickly tell you what brand of theaters might work best. Gift cards are usually available through the corporate websites.
Best Buy or similar store
Kids can shop for electronics, cell phone and laptop skins, CDs, DVDs or anything else they might need that’s electronic related. Buy the cards in the store or online.
Wal-Mart, Target and other retailers
Students can get batteries, socks or anything else they need. Click through these links for Wal-mart or Target. Cards can also be picked up in store. Check websites of other retailers for purchase information.
Forever 21, Old Navy or other clothing retailers
College students can go through clothing quickly. What is hot and trendy one season can be yesterday’s old news. Do an internet search for your student’s favorite store. Buy locally or online.
The nation’s number one online retailer is famous for books, music and everything in between. They even sell grocery items! From downloadable e-books, to Kindles or movies on demand an Amazon.com gift card is always a welcome gift. Order through this link.
College or university bookstore
Contact the university or college bookstore on campus. It’s hard to go wrong here. These welcome gifts can be used to buy or rent textbooks or to purchase team clothing.
Mastercard or Visa
These can be used for gas, groceries or anything else. You will pay an extra fee when you buy these types of cards. Typically the fee ranges between $2.50 – $5.00. Banks and financial institutions often charge less than retail stores for these cards. They can be spent almost anywhere. Now matter what the amount is on the card it’s always the right size, color and style.
You’ll want to do some research before deciding which gift cards for college students are best. Be sure that the card can either be used at a store that’s local to them or online. Most stores will have an online store locator on their website.
If you aren’t sure which are the best gift cards to get for college students ask them. They’ll probably be more than glad to make some suggestions.
Focus group: Allie, Sam, Julie, John