Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards

468

Updated 6/23/20: Added the coming GiftCardMall monthly portal rewards cap and the Simon Visa Gift Card bulk ordering option that debuted a few months ago.


A common practice for increasing credit card rewards is to use a credit card to buy PIN-enabled Visa or Mastercard gift cards, and then liquidate those cards by using them to reload prepaid cards, buy money orders, or pay bills.

The first step is to find PIN-enabled Visa or Mastercard gift cards that can be bought with a credit card, with low fees, and without risk of incurring cash advance fees.  That’s where this post can help.  Note that this post focuses on options available within the United States only.  Within the US, options vary by region, by county, by store, and even from one cashier to another.

You can often find promotions to save on the activation fees listed below. For the deals happening right now, see our Current Visa and Mastercard Gift Card Deals page.

Buy online

GiftCards.com

Order online through a cash back portal in order to recover some or all of the fees.

GiftCards Visa with name

Card Notes: When first buying cards from GiftCards.com, it is recommended that you start slowly.  If you buy too many in a short period of time, they may shut down your ability to buy more cards.

 

Max value: $500

Max order size: $2500 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $6.95 + shipping. Shipping is either $1.99 per card for first class mail or $7.45 for an entire order with tracking.

Can include your name on gift card? Yes

Portal rebate available? Yes. Portal rates are sometimes better for Mastercard gift cards than for Visa gift cards. Find current portal rates here (but note that you’ll have to click into each portal to find Visa/MC specific rates). Cash back may be earned on up to $60K per month through portals.

PIN enabled? Yes. After activating online you’ll be given a 4 digit PIN and you can then change the PIN if you prefer.

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: MetaBank

Credit card category bonus: None that I’m aware of.

GiftCardMall.com

Order online through a cash back portal in order to recover some or all of the fees.

GiftCardMall Silver Visa

PIN safe now: GiftCardMall used to sell two types of Visa gift cards.  One type (sold by IncentiveCardLabs) didn’t have PINs.  Now, they only sell cards issued by MetaBank, so all of their Visa gift cards should have PINs.

Card notes: GiftCardMall is known to have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to cancelling orders.  If you intend to place larger orders, you should increase order size slowly.

Max value: $500

Max order size: $10,000 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $5.95 + shipping. Shipping fees vary depending on the number of cards you purchase and they sometimes run promotions for free shipping.

Can include your name on gift card? Yes

Portal rebate available? Yes. Find current portal rates here (but note that you’ll have to click into each portal to find Visa specific rates). Limit $10K per day / $60K per month through portals. Note: As of June 29th, the cap is reduced to $2K in orders per month.

PIN enabled? Depends (see note on left)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank

Credit card category bonus: None that I’m aware of.

Simon Gift Cards Bulk program

Card notes: If you wish to purchase Simon Visa Gift Cards that can be loaded with up to $1,000 per card, you need to first register and be approved for the Simon bulk ordering program (which requires manual verification from Simon’s end). The process can take about a week. You will then re-enter the verification process each time you add a new payment method to your account. See: Simon Visa Gift Card online bulk ordering. Everything you need to know.

Max value: $1,000

Max order size: $25,000 per day whether in a single or multiple orders (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $3.95

Order processing fee: $10 per order

Shipping fee: Varies. From around $10.

Can include your name on gift card? Yes.

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes (last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank.

Credit card category bonus: None.

Staples.com

visa gift cards purchase

Card notes: If you pay with a Chase Ink Cash (or the Ink Plus, which is no longer available to new applicants), the $8.95 fee is more than made up for by the 5X Ultimate Rewards points earned (5 X 308.95 = 1545 points per $300 card).  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). Note that the card activation PIN is mailed separately a few days behind your gift card order.

Max value: $300

Max order size: $2,000 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $8.95

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes (last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank.

Credit card category bonus: 5X Chase Ink Cash (or Ink Plus, which is no longer available to new applicants), Amex Simply Cash, Discover Business. Other category bonuses can be found here.

Buy in-person

None of the following in-person options provide a way to recover fees through portals, nor do they offer gift cards with your name on them.

Grocery Stores
Many grocery stores sell Visa and MasterCard gift cards loadable up to $500.visa gift cards purchase
Card notes:
While Visa cards operate normally, U.S. Bank Mastercards do not automatically work as debit cards at Walmart registers. A workaround is to hit the red cancel button almost immediately after swiping so you can change the payment type to “debit”.

Max value: $500

Max order size: Varies by store

Per card fee: $4.95 or $5.95

PIN enabled? Yes. PIN usually comes in the package. If it doesn’t, call 1-866-952-5653 to set the pin.

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: U.S. Bank (usually) or Metabank in some cases.

Credit card category bonus: A number of cards offer up to 5% or even 6% cash back at grocery stores (found here).

Also watch for grocery stores as quarterly category bonus with cards such as Chase Freedom, Citi Dividend, and Discover.

Discount Stores

Stores like Walmart, Target, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club sell a variety of Visa and/or MasterCard gift cards.  Sam’s Club and BJ’s wholesale sells Vanilla brand cards that may look like this:

 

Card notes: Vanilla brand cards do not work as debit cards at Walmart for transactions of $50 or more. In my experience they work fine everywhere else.

Max value: $500

Max order size: Varies by store

Per card fee: Varies

PIN enabled? Yes.

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Varies (Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale sell Vanilla gift cards)

Credit card category bonus: In some cases Walmart or Target may code as a grocery store for earning credit card category bonuses.  For Sam’s Club, look for cards offering wholesale club bonuses (for example, Chase Freedom offered 5X at wholesale clubs in both the 3rd and 4th quarter 2016)

Drug Stores

Many drugstores sell Vanilla brand Visa and MasterCard gift cards loadable up to $500.

OneVanilla.jpg
Card notes: Vanilla brand cards do not work as debit cards at Walmart for transactions of $50 or more. In my experience they work fine everywhere else.

Max value: $500

Max order size: Often limited to one $500 card.

Per card fee: $4.95 or $5.95

PIN enabled? Yes (Use any 4 digits upon first use to set the PIN)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Bancorp

Credit card category bonus: Both the Discover It card and the Chase Freedom card sometimes offer drugstores as a 5X quarterly category.

Office Supply Stores

Many drugstores sell Vanilla brand Visa and MasterCard gift cards loadable up to $500.


Card notes:If you pay with a Chase Ink Cash (or the Ink Plus, which is no longer available to new applicants), the $6.95 fee is more than made up for by the 5X Ultimate Rewards points earned (5 X 308.95 = 1034.75 points per $200 card).  In fact, if you wanted to, you could cash in 695 of those points to reduce your net fees to zero and still earn 339.75 points per $200 card (i.e. ~1.7X). Keep in mind hat office supply stores may also sell “Everywhere” Visas, which are more limited in acceptance though they do have lower fees.

Max value: $200

Max order size: $2,000 (inclusive of fees), though during promotions you may be limited to 1 card.

Per card fee: $6.95 for $200 cards

PIN enabled? Yes (last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank.

Credit card category bonus: 5X Chase Ink Cash (or Ink Plus, which is no longer available to new applicants), Amex Simply Cash, Discover Business. Other category bonuses can be found here.

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. The ability to pay with a credit card varies from region to region and store to store and is often limited to Vanilla brand gift cards.

OneVanilla.jpg
Card notes: Vanilla brand cards do not work as debit cards at Walmart for transactions of $50 or more. In my experience they work fine everywhere else.

Max value: $500

Max order size: Often limited to one $500 card.

Per card fee: $4.95 or $5.95

PIN enabled? Yes (Use any 4 digits upon first use to set the PIN)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Bancorp

Credit card category bonus: A number of cards offer up to 5% cash back at gas stations (found here). Note that some category bonuses are restricted to payments at the pump — those will not work for buying gift cards.

Also watch for gas station quarterly category bonuses with cards such as Chase Freedom, Citi Dividend, and Discover.

Shopping Malls

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.

simon gift card

Card Notes: Some malls sell Amex gift cards, which are not PIN-enabled and can therefore be harder to use since they generally will not work as debit cards. Visa gift cards are preferable.

Max value: $1,000

Max order size: Varies. A $10,000 limit (inclusive of fees) was typical, but in February 2019 it was announced that the limit at Simon Malls had been raised to as high as $25,000 for qualified buyers. See this post for more.

Per card fee: $3.95 (usually)

PIN enabled? Yes (Last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? Usually not, but in Feb 2016 there were a few reports of cash advance charges at Simon Malls. That was resolved without subsequent reports.

Other issues?  Amex credit and charge cards do not earn rewards nor credit towards minimum spend for gift card purchases made at Simon Mall.

Issued by: Metabank

Credit card category bonus: None that I’m aware of.

AAA

Check your local AAA office to see if they sell Visa gift cards. Often they’ll run no-fee promotions, especially late in the year.

Card Notes: Some people have reported that buying gift cards from AAA is a cumbersome and time consuming process.  Others have had no such problems. We’ve received at least one report of a customer being charged a cash advance fee when buying AAA gift cards.  Make sure to lower your credit card’s cash advance limit below the amount you plan to spend.

Max value: $500

Max order size: ?

Per card fee: Varies. Often $3 to $3.95 for members. Sometimes fee-free during promos.

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? Usually not. See Card Notes.

Issued by: Metabank

Credit card category bonus: Some AAA branches code as insurance. If you have a card offering a bonus for insurance payments, you might qualify for a bonus this way.

Credit Unions

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.

Many credit unions only allow credit cards to be used if you pay with a credit card from that credit union.  Ask your credit union whether they accept 3rd party credit cards for these purchases.

Card Notes: There is always a risk of being charged a cash advance fee. Make sure to lower your credit card’s cash advance limit below the amount you plan to spend.

Max value: $500

Max order size: ?

Per card fee: Varies. $3.95 is typical.

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? Possible

Issued by: ?

Credit card category bonus: None.

Reader suggestions

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

Email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

468
Leave a Reply

avatar
201 Comment threads
267 Thread replies
33 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
161 Comment authors
Greg The Frequent MilerMalMelBoris CAnonymousbill Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
trackback

[…] been available through cash back portals, which reduces net cost considerably (See our guide to the Best options for buying Visa and Mastercard gift cards). While payout rates and caps have varied some over time, the current monthly cap for Gift Card […]