Beware of buying gift cards for other places at gas stations and big box stores. It is always best to buy it directly from the source.
You have seen the displays at Wally World, convenience stores, and other places selling gift cards to restaurants. Beware because the cashiers do not always activate the cards. That happened to me tonight. I did not have the receipt because it was given to my parents for their anniversary. I went to Panera with one of their gift cards to bring dinner home from them. I did not know it was not a card Panera sells but a gas station sells for Panera. The card would not go through. The manager came out and made a few phone calls and found out it was never activated by the store that it was purchased. I was so embarrassed.
The manager was soooo nice. He could tell I guess by me reaction that I was really flabbergasted. He gave me the meals for free. I felt horrible and offered to pay for them with cash but he refused. I was also nervous because the cashier had said my check card was denied and I knew it could not have been denied. I did find out she had not worked the transaction right and was processing my check card as a gift card.
I felt embarrassed and awful about leaving with food that I did not pay for but I did offer. I told the manager that if we got the card situation straightened out I would bring it back in to him. I hope he does not think I stole that gift card I would never do that. I still feel like I stiffed them out of two sandwiches but I did offer to pay and did have cash to pay for it but knew the gift card would cover it.
All this writing to warn you to either not buy the giftcards at those stands or to make 100% sure the cashier activates it because I know you would not want your recipient to go through what I went through and be so embarrassed.
Kudos to Brian at Panera though for being so nice.