Can You Purchase Gift Cards With a Credit Card?

Kelly Shepherd  | 

The short answer is yes, you can buy gift cards with your credit card — but it can be complicated. Gift cards are appealing choices for consumers due to ease of use, flexible spending, and the fact that they’re a simple gift-giving solution.

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.

Fraudulent Gift Card Purchases

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 new rules essentially stated 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.

Can You Buy 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 that can’t afford  EMV chip technology and rely on the use of magnetic strip technology do 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.

Can You Buy Generic Gift Cards With a Credit Card?

Generic gift cards — also known as “open-loop” gift cards — are generally more prone to fraudsters than store gift cards. Generic gift cards can be used at any location and can be exchanged for their cash value.

Many retailers will now permit the purchase of open-loop gift cards with a credit card. However, it’s a good idea to understand the fine print of using your credit card to purchase a generic gift card. This includes understanding that your gift card purchase may or may not yield any value when it comes to building points and earning rewards.

Some credit issuers may also consider gift card purchases or reloads to be cash advances, rather than purchases, which can be detrimental to your financial strategy because the charge will accrue interest for the amount of the purchase at a higher rate than a regular purchase.  

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.

Can You Buy Gift Cards Using a Debit 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.

The only thing you have to remember when purchasing gift cards is that every store will have different policies. Do your research and you’ll find a store that will let you purchase holiday gift cards even when you don’t have cash or your debit card handy.


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Kelly is a writer from Boise Idaho. She enjoys writing about the outdoors and her dog, Cassius. In her spare time she writes captivating fiction and confusing poetry. Follow her @kellyshep14 on Twitter!