How It Works
Giving the perfect gift is easy with Visa Gift cards
- The Visa Gift card is a prepaid card that is welcome at millions of locations where Visa debit cards are accepted—including retail stores and online merchants—and for mail and phone orders.
On this page
How to activate your card
- Follow the activation instructions provided with your card. Many Visa Gift cards are activated automatically upon purchase and may be used immediately. However, some must be activated by the recipient before they can be used.
- Also, for your card to be completely activated, be sure to sign in the designated area on the back before making your first purchase. Your signature will help prevent the card from being used by someone else.
How to use your card
- Using your Visa Gift card for a purchase is similar to using a credit card. When you are ready to pay, give the card to the cashier and ask to sign the purchase receipt.
- If asked, swipe the card through the keypad, push the "credit" button and sign the receipt. Note: Most Visa Gift cards do not come with a PIN, therefore, you should not push "debit". This will cause your transaction to be declined.
- Each time your card is used for a purchase, that amount is automatically deducted from your balance. It is recommended that you know your balance before making a purchase because many merchants will not be able to provide that information. See details below.
- The Visa Gift card is 'non-reloadable', so additional money cannot be added to the balance of the card. The card does not offer a line of credit like a credit card. The initial value available for use is determined by the person who purchased the card.
- If your gift card states "Valid only in the United States" on the front, the provider has issued a Domestic Use Only card. Although your gift card will not be accepted at locations outside of the United States, it's welcome at millions of locations within the United States where Visa debit cards are accepted.
Know your balance
- It is important that you know the remaining balance on your gift card before you make a purchase, because many merchants will not be able to provide that information.
- You can determine the balance on your card at any time. Most issuers offer web site access or a toll-free number. See instructions on the back of your card for details.
- When you make a purchase, record the amount and make a note of your new balance.
If you try to make a purchase for an amount that is more than the balance on your card, your transaction may be declined. See the next section for more details.
When the purchase amount is greater than your balance
- To make a purchase for an amount greater than the balance on your card, you will need to use a second form of payment—credit or debit card, cash or check—to cover the difference.
- When you are ready to make your purchase, tell the cashier in advance the amount you would like applied to your Visa Gift card. The balance will then need to be paid with the second payment method.
Online or phone purchases
- To make an online or phone purchase, you will need to register your card. You can do this by either calling the issuing provider, or by visiting their website. This information should have been supplied to you when you received the card. It may also be printed on the back of the card.
- 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.
- If the information you provide differs from what was provided when the card was registered, the transaction may be declined.
- You can verify or update your information by visiting the card provider's Web site, or by contacting them using the toll-free number provided in your card materials.
- There are certain payment situations that may require special or additional steps to use your Visa Gift card:
When paying at the pump, simply insert your card and follow the instructions. If the transaction is not completed, you may need to go inside and pay the attendant prior to pumping.
Restaurants, bars, taxis, salons and barbershops, and health and beauty spas
When using your Visa Gift card to initiate a transaction at a merchant where a tip may be included, be sure your balance is sufficient to cover an additional 20% above your total bill. If the bill, plus estimated tip, exceeds the available balance on the card, the purchase will be declined. The actual amount charged to your card will not exceed the amount of the bill plus the tip you add. Of course, the actual tip amount is at your discretion.
Hotels and Car Rental Companies
Some car rental companies and hotels may require a credit card to make a reservation. At check-in, hotels will put a "hold" on the estimated amount of your stay, making those funds unavailable for purchase for a period of time. You can avoid a 'hold' being placed on your gift card by checking in with a Visa Credit card, and using your Visa Gift card for final payment when you return the car or at the end of your hotel stay.
- If you decide to return an item that was purchased with your Visa Gift card, you may be asked to present the card to process that return. Be sure to keep your Visa Gift card—even after the balance is depleted—in case you need to return any purchased items.
- If the store policy is to credit the card used for purchase (rather than providing you cash or store credit) the value will be credited back to the card within three to seven days of the return.
Lost or stolen gift card
- If your card is lost or stolen, immediately contact the provider that issued the card by calling the toll-free number shown on the back of the card. That number and the provider’s specific replacement policy should also be located in the materials that came with your card.
- Keep a record of your card number and the provider contact information in a safe place, separate from the card.
- Refer to the materials that came with your card to determine the Lost and Stolen Card policies of the provider that issued your card.
- You will need to provide the Visa Gift card number in order for that card to be cancelled and a replacement card to be issued.
- To ensure only authorized use of your Visa Gift card, be sure to sign the back of the card. You will be asked to sign a purchase receipt when using the card for payment.
- To ensure authorized use of your Visa Gift card, be sure to sign the back of the card. You will be asked to sign a purchase receipt when using the card for payment.
Giving the Visa Gift card
- When you give the Visa Gift card, provide the recipient with all the materials you received with the card at the time of purchase. These materials should include the terms and conditions for use, which will help them understand how to best use the card.
- If you are giving the card to a young person who has little card-use experience, you may wish to review the materials with the recipient or their parent.
- Purchase a Visa Gift card