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Can You Buy a Gift Card with a Gift Card?

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

The short answer is maybe. I have purchased a gift card with a gift card (more than once) without any problem. However, since this is an area of gift card law that has been left for retailers to set their own policies, the full answer to that question depends on the state you live in, where you want to redeem the gift card and the type of gift card you have.

Video on how to buy a gift card with a gift card

Is it Legal to Buy a Gift Card with a Gift Card?

Federal Gift Card Law that went into effect in 2010 created several gift card protections for consumers. Not all gift cards are covered in the new agreement and some issues were left for the states and retailers to decide. So, what you need to know in order to answer that question for yourself is this:

  • Type of Gift Card. Promotional prepaid cards are the gift cards you receive for free—meaning you didn’t pay for them such as receiving a gift card as part of a customer appreciation program. Since these cards are not covered under the CARD Act, there may be restrictions (set by the issuer of the card) on how the cards can be redeemed. Read the fine print on the back of the card or the gift card packaging to find out.
  • Your State. Check state gift card laws to see if any rules apply to your situation. If you don’t see a rule, then the retailer can decide if you can buy a gift card with a gift card.
  • Retailer. I haven’t had any problems buying a gift card with a gift card, but I recently noticed a handwritten sign at JoAnn Fabrics that said “Gift cards cannot be used to purchase gift cards.” Although I’m skeptical of signs written in Sharpie (is this a store-wide policy or just a manager’s decision?), it does appear that this particular retailer will not let you purchase another gift card with one you already have. To be safe, check with a cashier before crafting your swap.

Why Would You WANT to Purchase a Gift Card with a Gift Card?

When asked this question, I have heard others say, “Why would you even want to?” Oh my dear, there are several reasons as follows:

  • Swap a Gift Card. Thanks to the proliferation of gift card kiosks at malls, grocery stores, craft stores, gas stations and more, there are a variety of places that you can walk into one store in order to buy a gift card for another. This creates an opportunity to swap a gift card you received for one that you’d rather have. For example, my kids received a Toys R Us gift card just after Christmas. Since Santa had been good to them, I suggested they didn’t need more toys. Feeling satisfied (for the moment), they agreed. So we took the gift card to Toys R Us and used it to buy a movie gift card, ice cream gift card and an iTunes gift card instead. (All great ways to have fun on winter break!)
  • Split a Gift Card Value. Gift cards are easy to regift. But sometimes the amount on the card is an odd value (e.g. $23.42) or is more than you want to give someone. If you take the gift card to the issuing store, you may be able to use it to buy a new gift card (or cards) in the dollar amount you want.
  • Upgrade a Gift Card. I had a discount Williams-Sonoma gift card that looked like it had been in my wallet for a while. I wanted to give it to a friend as a wedding gift, but knew that I couldn’t give her the one I had. So, I took it to the store and used the old gift card to buy a new one. With the awesome customer service at Williams-Sonoma, the clerk put the new gift card in a delightful gift card holder complete with tissue and a bag.
  • Use a Gift Card Balance. If you have a bank-issued gift card such as a Visa® or MasterCard®, you may eventually find yourself holding onto a gift card that has a miniscule balance. You don’t want to throw the gift card away, but you may be finding it inconvenient to spend that last $3.58 as well. An easy thing to do is buy an Amazon e-gift card for that same amount. Then you can apply the Amazon e-gift card directly to your Amazon account. The next time you shop Amazon, you’ll get that $3.58 applied to your purchase.
  • Extend the Life of a Gift Card. Suppose you receive a gift card from your cable company as a thank you for being a valued customer. The gift card you receive in that situation may have an expiration date on it (since it is a promotional prepaid card versus an actual gift card). To avoid having the gift card funds expire, use it to buy a non-expiring gift card from a store or restaurant in your area.

Bottom line

As Gift Card Girlfriend and your resource for all things gift cards, I would love to give you a definitive answer. But until a law is made that either universally allows or prohibits buying a gift card with a gift card, you’ll just have to try it and see. I’ve never had a problem doing it, and, frankly, don’t know why a store would care. Bringing a customer into a store is an opportunity to win that customer’s business. So whether the customer shows up to shop or to swap, shouldn’t matter. Getting shoppers through the door is key. Let me know if you experience anything different.

Happy Gift Carding!

~ Gift Card Girlfriend

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