I’m sure you’d agree that receiving gift cards to stores you don’t shop at is a big holiday downer.
You should consider yourself lucky if you happen to receive a Visa gift card, however. They are the best gift cards around because you can use them virtually anywhere.
How do you use a Visa gift card online?
Any online or brick and mortar store that accepts Visa debit cards, which is most of them do, will also accept Visa gift card. But before you use your Visa gift card online you have to make sure it’s activated and registered. Registering your gift card is only required for online purchases.
- 1 How to use a Visa Gift Card Online in 3 Steps
- 2 The One Big Catch: Insufficient Funds
- 3 Visa Gift Card Troubleshooting Guide
- 4 How to check your Visa Gift Card Balance
- 5 Did You Lose your Visa Gift Card?
How to use a Visa Gift Card Online in 3 Steps
If you’re not sure how you can use a Visa gift card for your online purchase, just follow these three simple steps:
1. Activate your Visa Gift Card
First, you have to make sure you’re Visa gift card is activated. If you bought it in a brick and mortar retail store then your gift card was most likely activated when you bought it at the cash register.
If you bought your gift card online it is possible that you have to activate it. Normally all you have to do is go to the website that’s printed on a label stuck on the card and enter the 16 digit number along with the security code. You may have to call the 800 number printed on the gift card if there is no website.
Not sure if you’re Visa Gift Card is already activated?
Just go through the process of activating your card again. It won’t hurt and you’ll know for sure if it’s already activated or not.
2. Register your Visa Gift Card
Registering your Visa gift card is a very similar process as activating it. Call the 800 number or go to the website associated with the gift card and put in the card information. But this time you’ll also have to include your personal information: name, address and phone number.
You have to go through this process because many online merchants use a security procedure called AVS (Address Verification System) when accepting debit or credit cards online. Since your Visa gift card is an “open-loop” gift card, it’s processed and dealt with as if it were a debit card.
3. Use your Visa Gift Card Online
You use it in the exact same way you would use a credit card. That means you put in all your personal information. Then, put the Visa gift card number in the credit card number field along with the CVC.
Do not make the mistake of putting the gift card number in the gift card field. Most of the time, that field is reserved for store-specific gift cards. For example, if you’re shopping online at BestBuy, the image below shows you where to put the BestBuy gift card number and where the Visa gift card details would go.
The One Big Catch: Insufficient Funds
This is the most common issue people have when using Visa gift cards online. So what’s the problem?
Well, using a Visa gift card online is a little different than using that same gift card in a store.
When you go to the store with a $25 Visa gift card and buy something that’s $30, the cashier would use the Visa gift card and then ask for a second form of payment for the remaining $5. This is known as a Split Tender Transaction.
Unfortunately, almost no online merchants are set up to accept Split Tender Transactions. Which means if you attempt to buy something that exceeds the value on your Visa gift card you’ll get an “insufficient funds” error.
There are some hacky ways around this that allow you to use a Visa gift card for partial payment.
Visa Gift Card Troubleshooting Guide
Having issues with your Visa gift card? Ask yourself the following questions to troubleshoot your issue.
- Did you make a typo? If you get an error when trying to make an online purchase with a Visa gift card, the first thing you should always do is check if the name, address, card number, and security card are all correct. It’s very easy for a finger to slip and cause a typo.
- Is the merchant based outside the U.S.? If you’re still having issues, check if the store you’re trying to buy from is located outside the United State. Because of recent legislature, most gift cards sold within the U.S. are restricted from being used at merchants outside of the U.S. If your card is a U.S.-only card it will say “Valid only in the United States” on the front.
- Are you trying to use your Visa gift card at PayPal? You will run into issuer blocking if you try to redeem your Visa gift card at a business where that allows you to convert a payment into cash. You can’t convert your Visa gift card for cash because of money-laundering concerns. Since PayPal falls into this type of business, this is why you can’t use your Visa gift card there.
- Are you trying to sign up for a monthly service? If you try using your Visa gift card to sign up for recurring services, it’s possible that the merchant may block prepaid cards from being used. They do this because they know there is only a limited amount of funds on the gift card and that the payment will fail eventually.
How to check your Visa Gift Card Balance
The only way to check the remaining balance of your Visa gift card is to visit the website of the card issuer or call the toll-free service number on the backside of the card.
So there you go, you’ve learned how to use a Visa gift card online and how to solve nearly all the issues you’ll run into when trying to use the card to make purchases online.
Did You Lose your Visa Gift Card?
If you happen to lose a Visa gift card, you should report it immediately to the card issuer. You’ll need to provide the lost or stolen Visa Gift card number for cancellation and replacement. So it may be a smart idea to write the number down somewhere in case you do lose it or have it stolen.
Want to earn free Visa Gift cards? Check out my article on the best 33 gift card apps!
I would love to hear your experiences with using your Visa gift card in the comments below!