You can buy gift cards with your credit card, but there are a few things you might want to know before making your purchase.
You might also be able to earn credit card rewards with your purchase — but it depends. You could end up paying higher interest rates if your credit card treats gift card purchases as a cash advance.
Additionally, while there may not be legal restrictions on gift card purchases with credit cards, some businesses may choose to enact certain restrictions in order to protect themselves from taking liability for gift-card fraud.
There are a few things to know before buying a gift card with your credit card, and this article will provide you with all the details.
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How to Buy a Gift Card With a Credit Card
Purchasing a gift card with a credit card is typically like making any other purchase. You simply bring the gift card to the register and make the transaction. Some gift cards will have a predetermined amount, while others may give you the option to choose how much you would like to add to the gift card. You can typically purchase a gift card from :
- Convenience stores.
- Gas stations.
- Grocery stores.
- Superstores and/or warehouse clubs.
Similar to making a purchase in a store, you can also purchase a gift card from a store’s website. Not all stores offer online gift cards, so it’s important to check and see if they do. To purchase a gift card online, you need to go to the store’s website. Common retailers that offer online gift cards include:
Oftentimes, an online store will allow you to choose how you would like to receive your gift card; a physical card that they mail to you, a printable gift card, or you could receive the gift card via email.
Buying Store Gift Cards With a Credit Card
Some stores may have restrictions for store-specific — also known as “closed-loop” — gift cards, especially in regards to purchasing one with a credit card. You may wish to inquire about the store or company policies before attempting to make a gift card purchase.
For instance, smaller businesses may not wish to take the risk of liability for fraudulent gift card purchases and may not allow credit card purchases of gift cards at all.
However, some stores may allow the purchase of store-specific cards with a few safety measures such as asking for an ID, or limiting the amount of money you wish to put on the card, or keeping the card inactive for a period of 24 hours after it’s purchased to assure the credit payment went through.
Buying Generic Gift Cards With a Credit Card
Generic gift cards — also known as “open-loop” gift cards — can be used at any location and can be exchanged for their cash value. Many retailers will permit the purchase of open-loop gift cards with a credit card. Examples of open-loop gift cards include Visa, Mastercard, or American Express gift cards.
Can You Buy Gift Cards Using a Gift Card?
Whether you can purchase gift cards with a gift card largely depends on the specific store that you are hoping to purchase gift cards at. The majority of merchants throughout the country will not allow you to do this because of the possibility for fraud to occur.
In the past, customers have typically used gift cards to purchase other gift cards during the holidays when they receive cards for places at which they don’t shop. Having the opportunity to exchange a gift card for one you would rather use seems like a good idea, but again, the chance of finding a vendor that will do this is challenging
In most cases, the only way you can purchase a gift card with a gift card is if you use a Visa gift card to purchase a store gift card. Some vendors will allow this transaction because it is very similar to credit card transactions, while other vendors will only allow the purchase of gift cards using cash or debit transactions.
If you have a gift card that you wish to exchange or sell for cash value, you might be able to trade, sell, or exchange the gift card using a gift card exchange website. However, you should be cautious in this endeavor and be sure that you are using a reputable site.
Can You Earn Credit Card Rewards By Buying Gift Cards?
Depending on your creditor you may, or may not be able to earn rewards with gift card purchases. If your creditor allows it, building points and earning rewards by buying gift cards can be a clever financial strategy. While some credit cards may allow you to earn points by purchasing gift cards, others may not.
Furthermore, some credit cards that do offer rewards for gift card purchases may restrict what types of rewards you can earn from the gift card purchase. Some may only allow you to earn cash back, while others may allow you to earn flexible rewards or points.
Is a Gift Card Purchase on a Credit Card a Cash Advance?
Some credit issuers may consider gift card purchases or gift card reloads to be cash advances rather than purchases. You should be sure to check with your credit card issuer to determine how your gift card purchase will be considered.
Making a gift card purchase with a credit card that considers the transaction to be a cash advance may be detrimental to your financial strategy. For many credit cards, a cash-advance transaction will accrue interest for the amount of the purchase at a higher rate.
Is Buying a Gift Card with a Credit Card Right for You?
Buying a gift card with a credit card is pretty easy, but you will want to check off this list before you do so. This will assist you in determining if it is the best transaction for you.
- Does the store or website allow you to purchase a gift card with credit?
- Does your credit card allow you to earn rewards with gift-card purchases?
- Does your credit card treat gift card purchases as cash advances?
- Are there any fees or additional charges to your credit card for gift card purchases?
- Alternatively, have you read the fine print on the gift card to ensure there are no fees or expiration dates that would reduce the value of your purchase?
- Have you met your limit with your credit card, meaning you should not make any more purchases on credit?
- Are you avoiding scams by making a gift card purchase through a reputable site or store?
- Have you looked into the fine print to make sure you know where and how the card can be used?
If you can’t purchase a gift card with your credit card for the above reasons, you may also consider looking into purchasing a reputable gift card with cash or a debit card.
Using a Debit Card to Purchase a Gift Card
Debit card transactions are probably the easiest means, aside from cash, to purchase gift cards. Debit cards have a pin-activated processing system that doesn’t allow transactions to be made without the proper code. This helps shield customers and companies from fraudulent charges, making it easier for consumers to purchase things that aren’t available through credit.
Debit cards are essentially cash that you have to activate in order to use. Debit cards attach to your personal bank account and only grant access to the funds you have available in the bank, unlike credit cards that give you access to money you don’t necessarily have. Fraudsters take advantage of this fact when they use your credit cards to buy gift cards.
Fraudulent Gift Card Purchases and Scams
In October 2015, new rules were enacted with the EMV chip card transition. The new form of payment via EMV chip cards safeguarded consumers by putting more securities on credit and debit card purchases through the use of chip-enabled technology to help alleviate the results of many common credit card frauds.
The rules state that businesses that do not upgrade their transaction technology to feature chip-enabled payments will be held liable for fraudulent charges made on their machines. So naturally, businesses all over the country were purchasing new transaction machines that incorporated these regulations — making it more challenging for fraudsters to steal money by purchasing gift cards using stolen credit cards.
According to Digital Commerce 360, gift card fraud is growing and the scams are becoming more difficult to fight. For years, fraudsters have been using the gift card method to quickly turn a stolen credit card into hard cash. They do this by immediately purchasing large amounts of gift cards using the stolen credit card, then immediately go to a gift card exchange and get cash in hand for the gift cards they bought using a stolen credit card.
How to Avoid Gift Card Scams
In addition to fraudsters using stolen credit cards to make purchases, there are other gift card scams you should be wary of. The FTC warns consumers against making any type of payment with a gift card.
Scammers often request payment through gift cards, and a legitimate company will never do so. If someone contacts you asking for you to provide a gift card as a form of payment, it is likely an imposter or scammer. This often comes in the form of:
- An imposter demanding fast payment for a utility or bill.
- Imposters from auction-style websites that ask you to make a large purchase by exchanging gift cards for the item.
- Scammers who attempt to play off your empathy to receive a gift card.
- Scammers who say you have won some type of prize or sweepstakes.
- Scammers who try to purchase something from you by offering you gift cards that are actually fake.
If you suspect a gift card fraud, report it immediately. You can often report directly to the store or website that the scam occurred on, such as Amazon, eBay, Steam, or iTunes.
You can also report any suspected fraudulent gift cards to the Federal Trade Commission website, or you can call the FTC toll-free number: 1-877-FTC-HELP. You can also report any gift card scams to your state attorney general, you can find the list of state offices by visiting the National Association of Attorneys General website.
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