How to spend a small balance on a Visa or MasterCard gift card

Last year, I received a $50 Visa gift card as a present. It’s always nice to receive a Visa gift card as it gives one the flexibility to purchase a variety of items. However, it’s always an issue when the balance on the card gets to a low point where it is not enough to purchase any full item. For example, if you have a gift card for an individual store, once you exhaust a gift card, you can just pay for the remaining balance. When you use a Visa gift card, it just gets declined.

Here are a few ideas if you’re facing a situation with a low balance on a Visa or Mastercard gift card.

Split-tender transaction at physical store

In my research for this dilemma, one blogger recommends using a split-tender transaction, which is basically just a fancy way of saying to use multiple types of payment on a single transaction. For example, if you know you only have $5 left on a Visa or Mastercard gift card, you can ask the cashier if you can pay with two different payment types and ask to pay $5 with the gift card and then the remaining balance with cash, or a different credit card. It might be a little annoying for the cashier but the is one way to resolve having a low balance gift card.

Buy an e-gift card from Amazon

A Consumer Reports piece offers the idea of buying an Amazon e-gift card. If you know your exact balance, you can simply buy the e-gift card for that exact balance. This is ultimately the option I ended up taking with my surplus of low balance Visa gift cards and I simply used those new gift cards the next time I shopped on Amazon. Walmart also sells similar e-gift cards where you can buy to the exact cent but it requires a $5 minimum.

The easiest way to resolve the issue of a low balance credit card gift card seems to be to just go ahead and get an e-gift card from Amazon or Walmart with the exact balance remaining.

How to check the balance of a Visa gift card

Visa has a detailed guide on their website on how to check the balance based on what type of Visa gift card you have.

How to check the balance of a Mastercard gift card

Mastercard has a specific site where one can check their gift card balance.

Don’t let the card expire!

As the aforementioned Consumer Reports piece notes, don’t let the card expire. The credit card company based gift cards all have expiration dates listed. Any balance unspent is leaving money on the table. If you’re facing this dilemma, why not just grab an e-gift card now?


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