Best Options For Buying Visa And Mastercard Gift Cards
A common practice for increasing credit card rewards is to use a credit card to buy PIN-enabled Visa or Mastercard gift cards, and then liquidate those cards by using them to reload prepaid cards, buy money orders, or pay bills.
The first step is to find PIN-enabled Visa or Mastercard gift cards that can be bought with a credit card, with low fees, and without risk of incurring cash advance fees. Thats where this post can help. Note that this post focuses on options available within the United States only. Within the US, options vary by region, by county, by store, and even from one cashier to another.
You can often find promotions to save on the activation fees. Current and recently expired promotions are listed here:
Prepaid Visa Activation Fees
A prepaid Visa activation fee is a fee that is charged to the buyer of the prepaid card to put value onto the card. It occurs when you first purchase the card. At grocery stores, it is typically a $4.95 fee on top of the amount on the gift cards. An example would be $25 + $4.95 activation fee. Its a one-time fee and once it is paid you never need to do it again. Not all cards charge an activation fee but many of them do. This fee can range from $1.00 to $9.95.
Video Transcript: Visa Gift Cards How They Work
Hi, Im Shelley Hunter, Gift Card Girlfriend here at Gift Cards.com, and heres what I love the most about Visa gift cardsthey can be used anywhere in the U.S. Visa debit cards are acceptedwhich to me, means pretty much everywhere. From little mom and pop restaurants to national retailers, if a Visa debit card is accepted, then the gift card will be too.
Heres a tip
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Can I Create A Pin
Yes – you can create a pin on the Gift Card website by selecting “My Pin” under the My Settings tab.
You can also request one at the time you activate your card using the toll-free number on the sticker. There is no charge for using the voice response system. If you activate your card on the website, you will need to call 866.543.9161 to request a PIN.
Compare Top Selling Gift Cards
Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Look no further than a gift card. Not only are gift cards the perfect size and color, they take away the stress and insecurity of finding the perfect gift. The recipient can pick out exactly what they want when they want.
How times have changed! It wasnt too long ago that gift cards were viewed as impersonal, last minute buys. But today, they are the most coveted gift for almost everyone.
In fact, a survey by The National Retail Federation found that gift cards remain the most popular items on wish lists throughout the year not just the Christmas holiday season.
Youre giving someone the option to buy exactly the things they want and need. Lets face it, it also makes it a lot easier on you during the gift searching process, says Beverly Harzog, .
But before we get ahead of ourselves on the many benefits of gift cards, its important to know that not all of them are created equal. Lets look at the different types of gift cards available.
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What Is A Tip Tolerance On Visa Prepaid Cards
Very few people who receive Visa prepaid gift cards know what a tip tolerance is, and its an important feature that has direct effects on the cardholder experience.
If you receive a $50 Visa prepaid card , most people assume you can go to a restaurant and pay for a $100 meal by splitting $50 dollars onto the prepaid card, and paying the remaining $50 with cash or credit/debit.
If you tried this, you would receive a decline on the prepaid card, even though there is $50 dollars on the card due to the tip tolerance.
The reason is fairly simple: although the server punched $50 into the terminal and swiped your card, the card was actually authorized for $50 + up to an extra 20%.
Why? The card issuing bank has to account for the fact that you may tip the server. If they only authorized for $50, and then you proceeded to tip the server for an additional $10 using the card, that means $60 would have to come off the card.
But you dont have $60 on the card. Prepaid cards have a fixed amount of money on them. That extra $10 tip is unaccounted for and when the transaction clears, the bank would be on the hook for an extra $10.
A tip tolerance is a safety mechanism to ensure there are sufficient funds on the card, and it ensures merchants get paid, and the server gets their $10 tip.
Keep in mind that a tip tolerance is only used at restaurants and bars, salons, hotels, gas stations, and other places that require tips.
Activating Visa Gift Cards
Some online card purchases arrive already activated, while others require activation. You must call an 800 number to activate some cards, while you can register others online. To register online, you typically enter the gift card number and an activation code. With some online vendors, only bulk purchases require activation.
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Register Your Card To Make Online And Phone Purchases
To register, either call the issuer, or visit their website. Your issuer should supply this information to you when you receive the card or it may be available on the card itself.
When you make an online or phone purchase, the name, address, and phone number you use will need to be exactly the same as the information you provided when registering your card in order to avoid declines.
Retail Or Store Gift Cards
Often referred to as closed loop cards, retail gift cards are limited to the store or store chain that issues the card. Although store gift cards are only good for a specific retailer, theyre often a better value because the money you put on the card is the exact amount the recipient has to spend at the store. Store cards rarely come with activation fees or inactivity fees. And since almost every retailer carries a branded gift card, its a breeze to find something for even the pickiest person.
The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, passed in 2009, provides that gift cards cannot expire within 5 years from the date they were activated and generally limits inactivity fee on gift cards except in certain circumstances, such as if there has been no transaction for at least 12 months.
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Where Can I Buy A Visa Gift Card
Visa gift cards can be purchased in many denominations at convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores or drug stores. They can also be purchased online or in select banks. Looking for a gift card without a fee? Take your pick with a selection of popular brands through Gift Card Granny choose between restaurants, groceries, gas and more.
Find Your Initial Balance And Track Card Value
Before you use your card you should know your cards initial balance, and remember to track your remaining balance after each purchase.
You can check your card balance by visiting the website of your card issuer or calling their toll-free customer service number.
If you would like to make a purchase for an amount greater than the balance on your card, youll need to use a second form of payment to cover the differencejust tell the cashier in advance the amount youd like applied to your gift card. The balance will then need to be paid with the second payment method.
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Prepaid Visa Dormancy Fee
Instead of a monthly fee, some cards charge a dormancy fee if your account isnt used during a specific timeframe. For example, you make a purchase on 1/1 for a little New Years Treat. You dont use the card again until 4/1. The card has been inactive for 90 days and if dormancy fees apply, you will be charged a small fee like $3.95. Every 90 days it is unused, you will continue to be charged a fee.
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Buying Gift Cards Online
Many financial institutions and major retailers such as Walmart and Target sell the cards online, although some banks only sell to their customers. You can also locate online vendors on the Visa gift card website.
Choose a vendor and click the icon. First, choose a card design and gift amount, and then select a delivery method, such as mail or email. Enter information on the recipient, including his address or email. The vendor will accept payment by check or credit card.
Purchasing a Visa gift card from an online source is the most convenient for the majority of people. However, you cannot use the card until it is physically shipped to you. The best online sources for Visa gift cards include credit unions and banks such as Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, Wells Fargo and Chase. Further, Visa gift cards are available in online card centers such as Gift Card Mall, Giftcards.com, and GiveCard.io.
Making A Purchase With Your Visa Gift Card
- What if I change my mind and want to cancel a purchase?
If a merchant cancels a purchase transaction for you, it may take three to seven business days for the cancellation to show up on your Visa Gift card record and for the funds to be credited to your card and available for use. Check the balance on your card, either online or by phone, to see when your cancelled purchase transaction has been processed. Refer to the back of your card for the web site address/phone number of the financial institution that issued your card.
- Why was my Visa Gift card declined?
- Your card may have expired. Check the expiry date printed on the front of your card. In this case, let the merchant know how much remaining balance you have on your card. The merchant may split the transaction and allow you to pay for part of your purchase with the Gift card, and then the remaining part of your purchase with another form of payment, such as a credit, debit or cash.
- Your remaining card balance may be less than the value of the item you wish to purchase.
- Merchants who only possess a manual imprint machine cannot accept Gift cards which have the phrase “ELECTRONIC USE ONLY” printed on the front of the card.
- Some internet merchants use fraud protection software that may decline a Gift card purchase transaction.
- Your card may not be activated or registered yet. Follow the activation and registration instructions that came with the card, or contact the card issuer
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Do All Visa Gift Cards Have A Fee
Yes the fee is based on the gift cards value.
- Gift card values from $10.00 to $74.99 have a $2.95 fee.
- Gift card values from $75.00 to $149.99 have a $3.95 fee.
- Gift card values from $150 to $249.99 have a $4.95 fee.
- Gift card values from $250.00 to $349.99 have a $5.95 fee.
- Gift card values from $350.00 to $500.00 have a $6.95 fee.
How To Activate Your Card
Visa Gift cards can be used for purchases just like you use your other cards. Many Visa Gift cards are activated automatically upon purchase and may be used immediately. However, some cards must be activated before they can be used. Follow the activation instructions provided by the issuer with your card.
Sign within the designated area on the back before making your first purchase to help prevent someone else from using the card. Keep a record of your card number and the issuer contact information in a safe place, separate from the card in case of loss or theft.
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Buying Gift Cards In Person
Visa gift cards are sold at banks, grocery stores, big-box stores, and many other retailers nationwide. You can search banks in your area through a basic internet search and visit them for the card. The same internet search as simple as ”Visa gift cards” can provide alternatives on where the cards are available. You need to have an internet connection on your iPhone or computer and also turning on your GPS to locate Visa Gift centers in your location.
The cards are usually sold like any other retail item, which means you can pay by check, debit card, credit card or cash, depending on the store. When you buy Visa gift cards in a store, the cashier must activate them at the register.
Visa Prepaid Gift Cards
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Prepaid Visa And Other Prepaid Cards
They give the recipient an incredible amount of flexibility to buy whatever they would like, from any store that accepts Visa or other prepaid cards. Who wouldnt love this flexibility? Its as good as cash without handing over the green. You can buy plastic or digital prepaid cards. If you have someone you want to send a gift to immediately, you can easily send a digital prepaid card and the recipient will have it in minutes. There are several providers that will even let you personalize it with a favorite picture or logo and emboss the recipients name and small message onto the card. All of this equals a great gift.
Considering Other Gift Card Fees
Know what you’re buying before you purchase gift cards. Read the terms and conditions online or on the back of the card. For example, some charge a monthly inactivity fee after one year of non-use. These fees may continue until the card’s value expires. Card issuers also typically charge a replacement fee for lost cards.
Some Visa gift cards are good only in the U.S. Cards that are valid abroad typically charge a foreign currency transaction fee of 1 percent or more.
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Pin Debit Purchase Transaction Fee Or Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
Many of the prepaid gift cards are debit cards. If you choose a debit card, look for a PIN Debit or Signature Purchase Transaction Fee. What exactly does this mean? When using a debit card, users can opt to go the debit route and enter their personal identification number when making a transaction. Or, they can decide to use their debit card as they would a credit card and sign for the purchase. Either way, you will be assessed a small bank fee. A typical charge would be $0.95 per transaction.
General Purpose Gift Cards
Often referred to as open loop gift cards, general purpose gift cards are typically issued by the four major credit card networks: American Express, Visa, Discover and MasterCard. They can be used anywhere for almost anything. Thats what makes them a popular choice for people who want to give a gift but arent sure exactly what store the recipient likes. These types of gift cards tend to charge fees for use. The fees include an activation fee that typically costs a minimum of $3.95, followed by a $2.50 monthly inactivity fee if the card isnt use within 12 months.
What you have to remember is that general purpose cards are never worth the money you pay for them. When you put $100 dollars on a card youre paying $104.95 so youre paying more than the what the card is worth, says Harzog. She recommends reminding your recipient of the inactivity fees, so they get their moneys worth.
However, the convenience of being able to use the cards anywhere is an upside that many people are willing to pay a bit extra for.
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