Blank Visa Gift Cards at Staples (likely uncommon, but here’s what to do if you get them)

We received a reader report over the weekend about a problem he had with Visa Gift Cards bought at Staples: when he opened the package, the gift cards were blank. In other words, they had no numbers. Here’s what I think you could do if this ever happened to you.

Image courtesy of reader THEsocalledfan

The problem: What’s the PIN? How do you check the balance?

If you’re planning to swipe your card to purchase something that costs the full value of the card or more, the lack of any numbers may not seem to matter much (since, for a regular purchase that runs as credit, you can just swipe the card and the payment terminal will recognize the info since that information is likely stored in the magnetic strip even if it didn’t get printed on the physical card.

However, if you intend to use your card(s) as debit, you know that the default PIN on these MetaBank cards is the last 4 digits of the card number. Blank cards present a problem there.  Furthermore, if you’d like to check the balance or change the PIN online, you’ll need the card number for that as well. No card number is no good.

What to do if this happens to you

The reader who reported this problem has a magnetic reader, so he was able to get the information off the cards by swiping them. However, if you don’t have a card reader, what do you do?

Truthfully, I haven’t been in this situation myself (I’ve bought lots of Visa Gift Cards and never opened a package to a blank, nor have I heard of others having this issue, so I expect it is a fairly isolated occurrence). However, I think the first step is making sure you’ve kept your receipt. The Staples receipt shows a serial number (S/N) that should match the long bar code number on the bottom of your gift card. With the serial number, Blackhawk should be able to look up the card information to see when and where it was loaded. I’d recommend calling the number on the back of the gift card and explaining what happened. I would further expect that Blackhawk may require further information (perhaps the transaction confirmation number from the receipt and/or photos of the receipt and card, etc) and may need to investigate before re-issuing. However, I’d expect that they could indeed be reissued and I’ve read about this working in the past for a lost card (and in that case, within just a few days).

You could alternatively start at the store where you purchased the card. I would expect that in 98% of cases, the store is going to tell you to call Blackhawk. However, I did once have a (totally different) problem with a couple of gift cards and the store manager took cash out of the register and gave me my money back and said he’d have to follow up and get it fixed later. I think it’s really unlikely that a store manager would offer that kind of solution, but I imagine the likelihood decreases if you wait days to go back to the store. Most likely, you’re going to have to call Blackhawk to get this fixed.

A third solution, and likely the easiest, is the one recommended by THEsocalledfan in the comments: simply buy something cheap with the card. Your receipt after making a purchase with the card will likely show the last 4 digits of the card — and voila! You have the card number.

Bottom line

This (likely very isolated) problem is a good reminder to keep your receipts. It pays to be organized. If you don’t have a card reader and you’d chucked the receipt in the garbage on the way out of the store, I imagine you’d have a hard time getting any help on getting the card re-issued and then be stuck swiping it as credit (and hoping no cashier sees that it is blank as I can’t imagine anyone believing you that you opened the gift card and it was just blank). With the receipt, it should be relatively simple to get a replacement card re-issued.

H/T: Reader THEsocalledfan

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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THEsocalledfan
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THEsocalledfan

Yep, quite a surprise to me. I didn’t even look at the cards when I walked into walmart. She already had put in the MO, and I swiped the first card, and bam, no numbers. I was completely befuddled.

One other suggestion, if you did buy something with the card, it may show the last 4 digits on the receipt. (depends on store) You then could drain the rest via MO. Note, the cards worked perfectly once I knew the numbers.

Radster
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Radster

You may want to consider opening and copying your card details as soon as you purchase a GC. What would happen if you lost, or otherwise misplaced, a card before it’s drained? I take a front and back photo of each of my cards ASAP after purchase. Not worth the risk of losing $500+.

Ben
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Ben

Or just dispute the transaction with your bank… you were sold something defective so you’re entirely in your rights!

Tyler
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Tyler

I think this is an organized scam rather than manufacture error. I once bought 4 VGC from Safeway and realized later that they are all blank. The cards were obviously made in different material (more like paper than plastic), with last 2 digit of card numbers scratched off. Luckily I saved the receipt and call the card issuer to see what’s going on – it turned out 3 out of 4 cards have been depleted value a few days after I bought them.

Lessons? Always check your VGC as soon as you bought them, ideally open the package right there. And use them as soon as you can.

Sophie
Guest
Sophie

It happened to me. I bought a VGC at Safeway and the receipt shows NOT APPROVED. The back barcode has last few digits scratched off (the number above the activation barcode, not CVV). Front card number is printed but back CVV is missing.

What did you do to resolve it? I called customer service but cannot get to a human being as I don’t have the CVV!

Dick Bupkiss
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Dick Bupkiss

A bad couple weeks to be working the phones for BHN. First the MCGC problems, now blank Visa GCs. They’re on a roll.

(BTW, there’s still no fix in sight for last week’s MCGC troubles, and even though lots of your readers are out thousands of dollars, you seem to have just moved on – hey, you might want to keep following that for all your readers that have been screwed over, no? oh, I see…you just want the credit card referral money, after that, you don’t care…OK, I get it).

wjs2
Guest
wjs2

Last year I bought a MCGC at Staples which I discovered was blank when I got home. Went right back to Staples, and the staff had never seen this before either. I had my receipt, so after management called Corporate, they gave me another MCGC and said they would sort it out later with the higher-ups.

Mark Ostermann
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Mark Ostermann

This is most likely a scam that has been happening at Safeway for a while and is spreading out to other providers.

https://milestomemories.boardingarea.com/does-safeway-have-a-rampant-gift-card-scam-issue/

Larry
Guest
Larry

Got a batch of these at Staples tonight. Called the number on the back of the card and gave them the long number on the back of each card. They told me the last 4 of the credit card and I used them easily at Walmart on MOs.