Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards

Updated 2/4/2016

As of April 2013, Visa and MasterCard gift cards became great tools for earning points and miles thanks to the ability to assign PINs (see “Gift card PINs“).  With this ability, it is possible to buy gift cards (to increase credit card spend) and cash them out by using them as debit cards (i.e. to load Bluebird or Serve in-store; pay bills; etc.).

To be clear, not all stores will accept gift cards as debit cards for all transactions, but with a little research you should be able to find options that work for you. One example is that Vanilla Visa cards no longer work as debit cards at Walmart for transactions $50 and above, but continue to work elsewhere including to load Serve at Family Dollar. More information and many useful resources can be found in FlyerTalk’s Manufactred Spending forum.

Gift Cards with a Customized Name

There are now two major avenues of obtaining customized Visa gift cards. While both of these methods should work, the fees vary depending on how many cards you purchase, portal cashback if applicable and whether or not they are running a free shipping promotion. Unfortunately, you cannot pay for either of these options with American Express gift cards.

GiftCards.com

GiftCards Visa with name

GiftCards.com sells pin-enabled Visa gift cards issued by Bancorp. These cards can be loaded up to $500 and will include your name engraved on them. Cards issued by Bancorp have been known to have problems at Walmart, but these cards work normally at Walmart to load Bluebird/Serve.

The cost of $500 Visa gift cards is $6.95 each, plus shipping.  Shipping is either $1.99 per card for first class mail or $7.45 for an entire order with tracking. The maximum order size is $2500 (inclusive of card fees).

For information on setting the pin along with example uses for these cards, see: The beginner’s guide to buying & liquidating Visa & Mastercard gift cards.

The Portal Option

NOTE 2/4/16: Portal options are temporarily unavailable for giftcards.com

iConsumer currently offers 1.6% cash back for Visa gift cards purchased from GiftCards.com.  Similarly, SimplyBestCoupons often offers 1.5% cash back for Visa Gift Cards.  Either way, these cash back rebates eliminate almost all fees for these gift cards!

Name / LinkOfferFrequent Miler Notes
iConsumerI'll earn 100 shares of iConsumer stock if you use this link to sign up. Also, through 2/14/16, I'll earn $10 once you make a purchase through iConsumer.This portal lets you earn both cash back and shares in the iConsumer business. Requires $25 payable before they'll pay out.
Simply Best CouponsYou will earn a $5 bonus after you register, and I’ll earn 5% of any cash back you earn, up to a maximum of $50.I've had very good luck with this portal.

No Portal?

Portal rebates for gift cards come and go.  If you can’t find a way to earn cash back through a portal, please consider using my affiliate link instead: Click here to shop for Visa gift cards at GiftCards.com. I will earn a small commission if you use this link.

GiftCardMall.com

giftcardmall visa

GiftCardMall offers Visa gift cards with values up to $500 each.  With each card, there is a $5.95 purchase fee and a shipping fee.  Shipping fees vary depending on the number of cards you purchase and they often run promotions for free shipping as well.

The Portal Option

GiftCardMall pays cashback through many portals for the purchase of Visa gift cards. Cashback generally ranges from .5%-1% and can change regularly. Many portals have a separate cashback rate for Visa gift cards compared to other gift cards. It is important to read the portal terms carefully to see their Visa gift card rate and what exclusions apply. I have found that each portal handles things slightly differently and some do not pay out for Visa gift cards at all.

As of 1/29/2016, the best portal option I’m aware of is 1% cash back through EBates.

Name / LinkOfferFrequent Miler Notes
EBatesWe’ll each earn a $5 bonus when you make your first purchase of $25 or more. I may earn additional bonuses when EBates runs special refer-a-friend promotionsThis is a well-established and reliable cash back portal.

Pin-Less Warning

GiftCardMall has been selling two types of Visa gift cards. Gift cards issued by Metabank are pin-enabled (the pin is the last four digits of the card number), while cards issued by Sunrise Bank are not pin-enabled. GiftCardMall has told several people that they are only sending out pin-enabled gift cards as of now, but there aren’t enough data points to know if this is true. Be aware that the cards issued by Sunrise Bank cannot be loaded to Bluebird/Serve since they do not have pins.

Gift Cards without a Customized Name

There are still a lot of places to purchase Visa gift cards that aren’t customized. Many people have success purchasing these cards and liquidating them to Serve/Bluebird, etc.

Staples

visa gift cards purchase

In addition to merchant gift cards, Staples sells MasterCard and Visa gift cards.  $300 Visa cards are available for $308.95 online and $200 Visa & Mastercard gift cards are available in store for $206.95. If you pay with a Chase Ink card, the fee is more than made up for by the 5X Ultimate Rewards points earned (5 X 308.95 = 1545 points per $300 card for example).  In fact, if you wanted to, you could cash in 895 of those points to reduce your net fees to zero and still earn 650 points per $300 card (i.e. ~2.2X).

Visa cards sold by Staples are issued by Metabank while Mastercards are issued by US Bank. For information on setting the pin along with example uses for these cards, see: The beginner’s guide to buying & liquidating Visa & Mastercard gift cards.

Click here to shop for Visa gift cards at Staples.com (this is technically an affiliate link, but I don’t earn a commission for gift card sales at Staples).

Staples also frequently runs rebate deals on Visa & Mastercard gift cards in-store which more than offset the purchase fees. For more info see: The complete guide to Staples Visa & Mastercard deals

Grocery Stores

visa gift cards purchase

Many grocery stores sell Visa and MasterCard gift cards loadable up to $500, usually with a $5.95 fee.  Use one of the many credit cards that offer grocery store bonuses to offset that 1.2% fee (See: Best Category Bonuses).  And, make sure to join the grocery store’s loyalty program (many offer fuel rewards) since some stores will pay out rewards even for Visa and MasterCard gift card purchases (but this has become exceedingly rare).

Grocery stores sell cards issued by Incomm, Metabank, US Bank & others. For information on setting the pin along with example uses for these cards, see: The beginner’s guide to buying & liquidating Visa & Mastercard gift cards

UPDATE 1/20/2016: There have been many reports that Safeway and Safeway owned stores such as Thom Thumb have stopped carrying variable load Visa, MasterCard, and Amex gift cards.  Unless that changes, this chain of grocery stores will no longer be a good option for buying Visa / MC gift cards.

Gas Stations / Convenience Stores

Some gas stations and convenience stores (which sometimes conveniently code as gas stations for credit card purposes) sell Visa and MasterCard gift cards loadable up to $500, usually with a $4.95 or $5.95 fee.  Use one of the credit cards that offer gas station bonuses to offset that 1% to 1.2% fee (See: Best Category Bonuses).

Drug Stores

Drug stores tend to have great options for Visa and MasterCard gift cards with fees ranging from zero (rare, but they exist) to $5.95 for $500 cards.  Use one of the credit cards that offer drug store bonuses to offset that fee (See: Best Category Bonuses).

Credit Unions and AAA

Credit unions often sell Visa gift cards to their members sometimes with no fee at all.  When they do charge fees, they’re often lower than elsewhere. One example of a credit union that offers Visa gift cards can be found here.

Another option is to check your local AAA office to see if they sell Visa gift cards. Often they’ll run no-fee promotions.

Shopping Malls

visa gift cards purchase

Many indoor shopping malls have gift card displays, often near the information desk. Visa gift cards aren’t always on display so you may have to ask for them. Usually, fees are $3.95 or less for cards with values up to $500 each. Both Simon and Macerich Malls sell Visa gift cards issued by Metabank for $3.95 each with denominations up to $500.

For information on setting the pin along with example uses for these cards, see: The beginner’s guide to buying & liquidating Visa & Mastercard gift cards

A few other data points:

  • There has been at least one verified report of Glimcher cards now working successfully at Walmart as debit cards.
  • Some Simon Mall’s carry business gift cards loadable up to $1000.  Use the last 4 digits as the PIN.
  • Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any credit cards that earn a category bonus for generic shopping mall purchases.

Reader suggestions

Did I miss any particularly noteworthy options?  Please comment below.


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Comments

  1. Has anyone had a problem loading with the Giftcard mall Visa GC onto Redbird? I tried to load two $500 cards yesterday. One went through no problem. I got an error message “Unable to contact issuer” on the second card at two different Targets. Hmm.

    • Did you try reloading the other card next day? Sometimes the redcard takes only one card a day, although the loading limit is $1000.

  2. I’ve been having issues with Chase CCs being declined for VGC purchases at Walgreens and Office Depot. Is anyone else having the same issue?

  3. Hi, I am newer to this, please answer it for me….

    A) Can i buy the Visa GC’s FROM http://www.giftcards.com, and use them to Load Bluebird at WM Stores? Or these GC’s are only valid to load Redbird at Target?

    B) Do Giftcards have to Under my name when i order them, which then i load at accepting store, or I can order under another person’s name and then can use them to load? In short, does it matter under whose name the Visa GC Is WHEN Loading at either Target or WM?

  4. SHIPHAPPY code no longer works for Giftcards.com. Can someone explain if the $1500 for which is the apparent limit for this code a one time limit or cumulative? Thanks.

    • There’s a new code. On the page where you activate your cards, after you activate a card, the screen displays a shaded box with one of two offers. One of the offers is for free personalization on your next order, and the other is for free USPS shipping. Both valid thru 9/30/15.

    • kroger’s variable load cards work great. when you open the package, it includes the pin code for the gift card. i bought 2 $500 gift cards & went to Target in Nashville & it went great.

  5. I asked my credit union if I could buy Visa gift cards using a credit card not issued by the credit union. They said, “Sure, we’ll just run it as a cash advance.” Good question to ask before buying!!!

  6. Not only have they scratched/cancelled the free shipping (they said people abused the code for free shipping), but now card fee is increased by them by $2, i believe. ($4.95 to $6.95).

    Now believe me, they will bring back free shipping, which will be cancelled by their processing fee hike.

    Time to move away from this money sucking company, if there is any other better option.

    Any ideas/comments?

    • Are you aware of their rewards program their cards are practically free what could you complain about? In the past with free shipping you actually made a few cents now $500 card cost you a buck something. Good luck finding something cheaper!!!

      • Dude, looks like you are personally offended….you work for that company?

        I was just stating the facts…..it could still be the best option out there, but never hurts to ask and explore other avenues…….it is a fact that they hiked processing fee, and considering the no. of orders they are getting (said their free shipping was abused badly with multiple such orders), am sure they are making a fortune………..small but snazzy and cunning hike by them……..again just stating the facts………if you are their CEO or partner, do not feel bad bout this……….Mate!!!!!!

        • If I am offended by anything it’s distorting the facts. The fact is with free shipping it’s still almost free to get a $500 Vgc

  7. I loaded one $500 VGc From GC.com at Target to my redcard. The transaction went through initially but then got declined and i got both receipt of intial transaction and decline that the agent at target gave to me.

    Now my Target redcard account does not show that balance of $500 added, as well as when i dial to check balance on my 4500 VGC, it shows balance as ZERO DOLLARS. Meaning those $500 have disappeared somewhere in virtual world…………what is the BEST WAY TO GET THAT MONEY BACK?

    Did anyone else have this kind of situation? Who do i call and what do i do?

    Will appreciate a prompt reply.

    ALSO I GUESS FREE SHIPPING CODES ARE not there anymore to buy VGC at GC.com

    • I had that same issue, I waited the few days for the money to be reloaded onto the gift card but it never did. After about 2 weeks of waiting I called Visa and filed a dispute. They had me fill out an affidavit and provide the proper paperwork as proof that a purchase didn’t take place. About 2 months later I got the money back. It was extremely frustrating.

  8. Thanks for all your info. Saw a comment saying agfed no longer takes CC. Have you used recenltly? I was just about to join.

  9. what is the best and least expensive option to buy Visa or MC GC’s?

    GC.com has removed USPS shipping and free shipping codes, making it tad bit more expensive.

    Any thoughts/ideas/recommendations?

  10. Any option for buying visa gift cards online . I am mainly looking for MS opportunity on Citi Att card which give 3x points. i cant sign up cards for bonus points . Credit score just in 700s…..So need to rotate just using 1 serve.

      • Thanks FM, but 300 visa gift card already charges 3 % fees. So there is no benefit in buying them. I already had more than 5 accounts in last 2 years , so cant apply for Ink

        Is it ok to deposit Money orders into bank accounts. Do we need to show this money flow in tax submissions.

  11. Department Stores & Clothing Stores are listed as 5% Cashback with Discover through December. If I purchase Simon Visa gift cards at the mall, will they trigger for 5% cash back?

  12. Any Simon Malls in Ohio? How can one find them? And how can one find out what fee they charge?

    Also one has to pay sales tax on purchase of these gift cards when bought from there right?

  13. I just noticed what seems like a change to Serve limits, here:

    https://www.serve.com/help/#fees-and-limits-1

    It says that the maximum load from a debit card is $200/day, $1000/month. Isn’t that a change from $1,000/$2,500? I did, in fact, load up my serve card at Walmart with $2,500 just today (November 1) with five $500 debit cards purchased at a grocery store, but this worries me. Anyone know if this is a change?

    • That’s not a change. That’s talking about if you have a (real bank) debit card linked to your account online the max you can load online is 200.
      In store loads like you talk about fall under the “cash load” section. You’re fine.

  14. How much can one Load via $500 GC’s at WM for BB per day and per month? Is monthly limit reset 1st of every month or from time of last transaction/load date?

    Also once i close my Redbird, how long should i/do i have to wait to open up either Serve or BB?

  15. The section of your post concerning Officemax states that you buy variable load gift cards with a credit card. I thought that was changed recently and no longer applies. Do you agree or did I miss something?

  16. ????? DEATH OF BLUEBIRD????????????

    I took my BB at WM to load Debit cards and it did not work….was it a technical glitch/one time error or i just found out that This option has also ended like Redcard at Target?

    Any thoughts/experiences/inputs?

  17. Kroger does not give Fuel Points on variable load gc’s. Also, they do not sell $200 gc’s so you are stuck with the fee on $100 cards if you want the points.

    • This varies greatly by location. In some areas it’s impossible (or very difficult) to find a gas station that will let you pay with a credit card. In other areas, it’s easy. Some people have luck at 7-11 stores which often code as gas stations.

  18. 1) giftcards.com is not providing G rewards for visa gift card purchases, right?

    2) Giftcardmall is sending pinless giftcards right?

    what are the best options to buy these giftcards now? any ideas/suggestions/thoughts?

  19. I went to a Simon mall (Virginia Center Commons) yesterday 1/6/2016, and was told that there is a new daily $3,000 limit (inclusive of purchase fees) when using a chip-enabled credit card. I had to limit my purchase to 5 gift cards.
    More importantly, I was given a flyer that indicates that beginning on March 1, 2016, gift cards will no longer be sold at Virginia Center Commons. Gift cards will still be available at Simon’s website, but I understand this is a less economical way to purchase gift cards after shipping fees are added.
    I would be curious to see if gift cards will continue to be available at other Simon malls or if this is a Company-wide change.

  20. Can you provide updated/latest info about which giftcards STILL WORK as debit cards to upload to BB at WM?

    1) I have been hearing conflicting reports about Simon Mall GC’s not longer working for BB and someone told me Giftcards.com DO not work. I infact tried to upload $500 visa GC from Giftcard.com and despite 3 tries, transaction was denied for BB at WM.

    So provide exact details of which ones are working and which ones are not…….

    2) Lastly, does giftcardmall now send only cards with PIN or this is still not confirmed? ANY INFO ON THAT?

    • 1) I haven’t seen any credible evidence that GiftCards.com or Simon Mall gift cards have stopped working at Walmart. I believe that a lot of the reports are from people who got their Serve/Bluebird cards shut down but didn’t realize it (maybe emails went to spam, for example).
      2) GiftCardMall is a crap shoot: they still often send cards from Incentive Card Labs. Those cards do not have PINs

      • I just came back from WM….Loaded $500 Simon GC to BB, no issues. But $500 Giftcards.com VGC got denied. So i can officially say, the VGC’s from Giftcards.com do not work for BB at WM….Hence no buying of these giftcards from them, buyers please buy at your own RISK….

  21. giftcardmall.com has a $2 off per Visa Gift Card promotional going today, and no shipping fee. promotion code is newyou2016 .

  22. WHY are you encouraging people to buy from giftcardmall.com when there is an issue about them sending PINLESS visagiftcards?

    And even if it is a pin giftcard, does it work for BB at WM? I heard the giftcards.com VGC’s cannot be loaded to BB at WM anymore.

  23. GIFTCARDMALL.COM is shitty company………anyone recommending to order from there should be fired from posting here and penalized…….for misdirecting other people…

    i just ordered from there and this is the email i got from them….hence i am cancelling the order…

    Hello ,

    It is very important that you contact us in regards to your referenced order.

    We have placed your order on hold and before we can release it, we need to hear from you by phone. To expedite the approval and shipment of your order, please give us a call at 1-877-426-2551

    We apologize for the inconvenience, but your online security comes first! Your prompt response will allow us to process your order as soon as possible.

    Unfortunately, if we do not hear from you within 5 business days, your order will be auto cancelled.

    Just a reminder, Visa gift cards do not come with a PIN, cannot be used good for cash back, or online bill pay.

    Our hours of operation are, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM CST.

    Thank you for using GiftCardLab!

    You can always contact us using the “Contact Us” Page from the website. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM CST.

  24. Jewel (which is part of the Albertsons chain) has also pulled all variable load gift cards. One of my favorite store CSRs does not think they’ll ever be back.
    Everything is drying up!

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