New products, Rewards, Shopping

A sleigh full of last-minute gift ideas

Jeff Herman

If you haven’t wrapped up all your holiday gift buying, time is running short. If you can save a little or rack up extra points using your credit cards while buying for friends and family, all the better.

To that end, it’s easy to score holiday bonus rewards at your card issuer’s shopping portal, to maybe get pre-sale tickets to a Broadway show to stuff in a stocking, or cash in points for an exclusive experience, such as throwing out the first pitch at a ballgame sometime in the new year.

If you’ve got a Chase, U.S. Bank or Discover cash back card with a 5 percent quarterly bonus, you can earn even more rewards. For example, Discover it and Discover it for Students cardholders can get that 5 percent bonus cash back at Amazon, department stores and Sam’s Club through Dec. 31, 2016.

Note, too, that American Express cardholders can earn 2x Membership Rewards points at select small businesses (Shop Small Map) through Dec. 31, 2016.

If you can’t get to the stores – or don’t want to brave the crowds – we’ve got you covered with a couple of other last-minute gift ideas.

Stock gift cards (and the e-gift version) are an even bigger thing this holiday season, and PayPal has added digital gift cards from designer Jonathan Adler to make gifts of cash a little more personal and visual.

With these gift cards, recipients get fractional shares in companies including Apple, Tesla, Facebook, Alphabet Class A (Google), Disney and many more. Denominations on the plastic cards range from $25 to $100, and there are holiday gift sets – some with a Rookie’s Guide to Investing.

Stockpile gift card for digital shares of Disney

“Last year, we were in about 400 stores and six retailer chains,” says Dan Schatt, Stockpile chief commercial officer. It was Stockpile’s first holiday season. “Fast-forward to today, and Stockpile gift cards are in 14,000 stores.” Retailers added in 2016 include Target, Sam’s Club and H-E-B, and Stockpile is a part of 1,600 bank rewards programs, he says.

Gift cards have “made it easy” to gift stock or buy and own stock, Schatt says. And with the tell a friend, get free stock promotion, you both get $5 of free stock when the one you referred buys his or her first stock or e-gift card of $10 or more with a credit or debit card.

How it works: The $25, $50 and $100 plastic gift cards cost $29.95, $56.95 or $107.95 to cover credit card fees, trading commissions and other costs so the recipient doesn’t pay anything when the card is redeemed. Most popular are the $50 and $100 gift cards.

E-gifts can range from $1 to $1,000 and cost the giver less upfront because there’s no plastic card involved. The average e-gift value is $170, Schatt says.

Once a brokerage account is opened at redemption at, stock trades cost 99 cents.

Kids and teens can own stock by having a custodial account with an adult. The youngster or teen gets his or her own login while the adult has legal responsibility for the account until the minor turns 18.

And what are teens’ favorite stocks in the 30 days leading up to the holidays? With girls 13-17, the most popular Stockpile stocks are in order: Apple, Amazon, Disney, Alphabet (Google) and Nike, Schatt says. With boys 13-17, the most popular stocks are Apple, Tesla, Nike, Amazon and Alphabet.

Across all age groups, what’s the most popular Stockpile stock? If you guessed Apple, you win.

PayPal adds Jonathan Adler digital gift cards
If you will be sending cash – or its digital equivalent – PayPal this year partnered with designer Jonathan Adler to make holiday digital gift cards stylish.

Jonathan Adler PayPal holiday digital gift cardThese final days can be incredibly stressful, desperately searching for the perfect gift for friends, family and colleagues. Through it all, cash sometimes is still king.

“Money makes the world go round, which kind of makes it the perfect present. Sending money digitally as a gift never felt truly personal or stylish – until now,” Adler said in a news release.

In fact, an October 2016 PayPal survey found that money is the No. 1 gift Americans want this holiday season, and 62 percent wish they could ask for cash instead of traditional holiday presents. The main reasons people don’t give cash as a gift, the survey found, is because they’re afraid it’s not personal enough (63 percent), or it’s tacky (29 percent).

“By partnering with Jonathan Adler, we’re able to make the gift of money feel more personal,” PayPal spokeswoman Juliet Niczewicz said in an emailed response to questions.

How it works: A account holder logs in, selects Send Money to make it a gift, picks the preferred Adler design, sets the amount of the gift and hits send. Funds go into the recipient’s PayPal account. If the recipient doesn’t have an account, one can be created easily at no cost.

If you’re still at a loss for what to get that picky nephew or your other half, and you want to shop until you drop, Kohl’s, Walmart and Toys R Us stores now are open around the clock through Christmas Eve.

If that perfect present absolutely, positively has to be there overnight, FedEx may still be able to help, but you also can go the e-gift card route. Sites such as have a sleigh full of digital gift card options for last-minute shoppers.

If you waited till the last-minute, you’ve still got plenty of options to get that perfect gift, and you can save a bit sometimes paying with your credit cards. Just stick to your budget for gifts. You don’t want to start the new year regretting the debt you’ve piled up by charging for all those presents.

Happy holidays.

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