20 Online Gift Cards & How Long It Takes To Get Them (Many Aren’t Instant!)

A growing number of online stores are promoting their gift cards as a last minute gift idea.

The online gift cards work like a regular gift card, except they are delivered by email or some other form of electronic delivery such as a text message or Facebook post. Most of the cards can be used in a company’s brick and mortar store or online.

But not all online gift cards are created equal. While many are delivered instantly, there are some cards that require extended processing times. Stores with cutoff times for Christmas gift card ordering include JC Penney, REI, and Victoria’s Secret.

Online super-store Amazon.com offers instant e-gift cards available to print, email, or post to Facebook in any amount. They currently offer 120 different designs, 14 of which are Christmas themed. They also have an option for personalizing the cards with a video or photo.

JC Penney is one who offers online gift cards that aren’t instant. Cards can take 12 or more hours to process and are then emailed to you to forward or print and hand-deliver to the recipient. The company advises shoppers to order by 6pm CST December 24, to receive an online gift card by Christmas Day.

REI’s e-gift cards have to be ordered by 3PM PST December 24 to ensure Christmas delivery. Even then, cards can take up to 24 hours to be emailed, so it may not arrive until Christmas afternoon.

Victoria’s Secret e-gift cards can be ordered until 5pm EST Christmas Day. We should mention that while the store is best known for its lingerie, they also sell clothing, shoes, accessories, makeup, perfume, and other beauty items.

One Kings Lane is a store dedicated to all things home, including furniture, rugs, decorative accents, art, vintage finds, and even items for pets. Their gift cards are emailed to recipients the next day, or givers can email it to themselves instead for printing and hand-delivery.

Etsy features handmade and vintage gifts. They launched their gift card program in October of this year, but do not include any information on their site concerning delivery time.

Petco has a number of options available for their online gift cards. They can be emailed within minutes of ordering, scheduled for later delivery, or posted to a Facebook wall. Givers can personalize their card with a photo.

Best Buy’s e-gift card can be used online or in store. Options include emailing it or delivering it to the recipient’s Facebook account. According to their site, processing online cards only takes a few minutes.

Ulta is a store that features makeup and perfume as well as beauty supplies and tools ranging from drug store to designer brands. E-gift cards can be sent to an email address, but they don’t say how long it takes. Several of the reviews from buyers say it was ‘quick’.

Sephora is another favorite for beauty lovers. They specialize in designer cosmetics, perfumes, skin care lines for men and women, and a plethora of other beauty items and tools. They offer a traditional e-gift card that can be emailed in minutes or printed and hand delivered. There’s also a social gift option that can be delivered via Facebook.

Sears online gift cards can be printed and hand-delivered or emailed within an hour, according to their site. These gift cards can also be used at Kmart and Lands’ End.

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s e-gift cards are available in amounts up to $100 and emailed within 12 hours.

Their competitor The Home Depot has e-gift cards available in $25 to $500 denominations that can be delivered via email, printed and hand-delivered, or posted to the recipient’s Facebook wall. A photo or video can be added. According to their site, processing takes only minutes and delivery can be scheduled for up to a year in advance.

Toys “R” Us  gift cards are emailed to recipients within a few hours and can also be used at Babies “R” Us.

Walmart offers their own gift cards available for email delivery. The email gift cards are delivered within minutes, according to their site.

Walmart also sells cards for a number of other retailers. Some of these are available in email versions, others are not. Processing times vary. Note that the $50 iTunes gift card is currently on sale for $40!

Barnes and Noble’s e-gift cards are delivered immediately via email.

Target has a variety of ways to e-gift someone. Cards can be emailed or printed and hand-delivered, Orders can be place online, by phone, or through Facebook. According to their site, cards are generally delivered within 4 hours. Target also offers a way to crowd fund a gift card through their Facebook app.

Which of these are your favorite gift cards as Christmas gifts? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Sierra Tajen is a freelance writer. Always on the hunt for a good bargain, she loves sharing the latest deals and steals with her readers.