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Wednesday 6.04.2014

Can I Buy a Gift Card with a Brand or Gas Gift Card?

Gift Card Girlfriend answers the gift card questions you’ve been asking.

A couple of weeks ago, I answered the generic version of this question–”Can you buy a gift card with a gift card?” The short answer is that it depends on the gift card you have and the one you want to buy. Since federal and state laws do not (currently) address this question, retailers get to set their own policies. Some stores will allow you to purchase a gift card with a gift card, others will not. Today’s Q&A post, however, is about three different flavors of the same question.

fighting for a card

Can I Purchase a Gift Card with a Brand Gift Card?

The root of this question, unfortunately, may be less about people simply wanting a different card (e.g. Grandma got you a gift card to Toddler Town, but you’d rather shop iTunes) and more about potential fraud. So, I’m afraid some people are asking this question for the wrong reason.

When grocery stores pump up their “buy gift cards to earn gas rewards” promotions, some fraudsters use the opportunity to scam the system. The scenario might go like this:

  • Customer goes to the grocery store to buy gift cards in order to earn fuel rewards. (This is fine. This is what the grocery store is hoping you will do.) The customer selects a gift card to a department store that also has a gift card kiosk. (This is where the situation gets fishy.)
  • Customer goes to the department store and uses the newly purchased gift card to buy a grocery store card off the rack.
  • Customer goes back to the grocer and uses the grocery card to buy more gift cards—racking up additional fuel rewards. The cycle continues until a free tank of gas is earned.

While there are legit ways to maximize fuel perks (such as buying the bonus products that increase rewards, making sure you always fill a full tank of gas, buying gift cards for the stores you plan to shop, etc.), this isn’t one of them. The very practice, I’m sure, will eventually eliminate one of my favorite ways to swap gift cards (besides selling them for cash, of course). I’m also curious. Doesn’t it take an awful lot of gas to drive back and forth between stores, scamming the system, just to save on gas?

If I’m reading this wrong, let me know in the comments below.

Can I Buy a Visa Gift Card with a Gas Gift Card?

If you want to sell us your gas gift card for cash, you can do that. Then you can use funds received from the sale to purchase a new Visa® gift card in a separate transaction, but you cannot directly buy a Visa gift card with a gas gift card at GiftCards.com.

If you’re looking to legitimately swap a gift card, then you may be able to do so at a gas station if all of the following are true:

  • You have a gift card to a gas station that sells Visa gift cards.
  • The gas station allows you to buy a gift card with a gift card. (Since no federal or state law allows or prohibits this, the gas station has the right to set their policy.)
  • You are willing to pay the gift card activation fee typically associated with a Visa gift card.

If you have a gas gift card you don’t want, read my post on easy ways to use unwanted gift cards.

Can I Buy a Gift Card to Earn Free Gas?

Another wrinkle to the gas gift card question also stems from the fuel perks people. Some customers purchase Visa, MasterCard® or American Express® gift cards at the grocery store in order to earn fuel savings. Then they simply use the gift cards purchased to buy their gas. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, it’s just not what the grocery stores intended. Many stores have closed the loophole, only offering gas rewards for purchasing brand gift cards that can’t use to buy gas.

Since bank-issued gift cards require you to pay an activation fee, however, wouldn’t the cost of buying a Visa card lessen the net effect of the discount earned on gas? Maybe I’m reading this situation wrong too. Let me know.

In what (honest!) ways do you work the fuel perks system? How much do you spend and how much do you save? I’m curious.

Happy Gift Carding!

~Gift Card Girlfriend

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