Smart Buying

A Gift Card That Gives Back

Here is a holiday gift idea that really pays it forward.

Charitable gift cards let that special someone choose a charity instead of, say, another sweater. At CharityChoice, you choose a gift amount and one of four card types -- such as the “Season’s Greetings” card or the biodegradable card. Shipping costs about $5. The recipient goes to the Charity-Choice site and selects up to three national charities from a list of more than 100 (including the American Red Cross and Sierra Club). The charities receive the gift amount minus a 50-cent fee for the card and a 10% administrative and credit-card-processing fee.

At TisBest.org, you can choose from the site’s 50 available images or upload one of your own photos to print on your gift card. Recipients can choose from among 250 charities. You pay $1.49 for shipping, and TisBest deducts a $1.95 transaction fee plus 3% for credit-card processing from your gift.

The Good Card from Network for Good (www.networkforgood.org) will cost you $5 plus the gift amount, but your recipient can direct the gift to any of 1.8 million charities. And 100% of the funds go to the charity.

Besides spreading goodwill, giving charitable gift cards has another benefit: The entire cost is deductible on your taxes if you itemize.

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