Do you have just a small amount left on a prepaid gift card from Visa, Mastercard, or American Express (AMEX)? There’s no need to let it sit unused. Here’s how to use the remaining balance on gift cards like those.
(Because why wouldn’t you want to use it all?! Every penny counts!)
These ideas can work for physical or virtual Visa gift cards, Mastercard, and AMEX gift cards. (See this post for store gift cards.)
Before You Can Use Up The Rest of a Prepaid Gift Card
No matter what kind of non-reloadable prepaid gift card you have, there’s one thing you’ll need to know if you want to spend every last bit.
You need to find out exactly how much is left on the card.
So let’s start there.
There are two ways to figure out what the remaining balance is.
1. You can keep track as you buy things. I do this by writing on the back of the card with a marker and subtracting as I go.
So for example, if I have a $100 Visa gift card and I spend $27.48 of it, I write $100 – $27.48 = $72.52. Then I subtract the next amount I spend from that.
Writing on the back of the card with a marker doesn’t hurt anything, and it’s an easy way to always have the balance with me.
2. You can contact the card issuer. If you don’t know your balance, you can call the number on the back of the card or login to your digital wallet online to find out. (You may need a PIN for that, which should have been included when you activated the card.)
Once you know the exact amount that’s left on the prepaid gift card, you’re ready to use it up.
How you go about using the remaining balance depends on where you want to use it.
How to Use the Remaining Balance in Person or Over the Phone
You can usually use up even a few cents very easily over the phone or in person since you now know the exact remaining balance on the card.
When you go to check out, just tell them you want to pay using two different cards. It’s no big deal to do it that way, so they won’t think anything of it.
First let them know how much to charge on your gift card. Then give them your second form of payment for the rest of your purchase.
If for some reason they aren’t able to split your purchase into two transactions, you’ll need to try somewhere else another time.
Or you can use the method below to use up the rest online instead.
How to Use the Remaining Balance Online for Visa, Mastercard, or AMEX Gift Cards
Online is a little trickier. If it’s a site that lets you use multiple payment methods, you can do the same thing as in-person.
But since many sites won’t let you do that, the easiest way to use the remaining balance on a Visa, Mastercard, or AMEX gift card — even if it’s very small – is to buy an Amazon gift card with it.
To use the remaining balance on Amazon, first add the gift card as a payment method in Amazon.
Here’s how to add a prepaid gift card as a payment method in Amazon:
- Log in to your Amazon account
- Click your name
- Click Your Payments
- Click Add a Payment Method
- Click Add a Credit or Debit Card
- Fill in the card information
- Click Add Your Card
- Click Save
Your card will then appear as a payment method.
Once you’ve added your Visa or Mastercard gift card as a payment method, you can use it to buy an Amazon gift card for the exact remaining balance. To do so, follow the steps below.
How to buy an Amazon gift card for the remaining balance:
- While in your Amazon account, click Gift Cards
- Click Reload Your Balance
- Type the exact amount remaining on your Visa or Mastercard gift card into the Other field
- Click Buy Now
- Select the debit card you just added from the list
- Click Use this payment method
- Click Place your order
You’ll get an email from Amazon saying your balance has been reloaded. Once you get that, you can delete the Visa or Mastercard gift card as a payment method.
Then the next time you order something on Amazon, you can use up the balance. This works because Amazon will normally pull from your Amazon gift card balance first unless you tell it otherwise.