Got friends and family in other countries? Here is a list of gift cards that can be used across the border and overseas.
Most bank-issued gift cards, such as those that carry the Visa, Mastercard®, Discover® or American Express® brand logos cannot be used internationally, but there are some store and restaurant gift cards that can be used across the border and overseas.
This is good news because I’m routinely asked how people living in the United States can purchase gift cards for friends and family members who live in other countries (and how people who live in other countries can purchase gift cards for people who live in the United States.) While the number of options is somewhat limited, I decided to broaden my own horizons in search of gift cards that can be used in Canada and other cities and states around the world. Below is a list of what I’ve found so far.
Subject to Change Please note that the gift cards listed below are curated for your convenience. The terms and conditions come from the websites of the stores and restaurants (or my calls to their customer service departments) and are, therefore, subject to change. Please check the link provided to confirm the accuracy of the merchant’s gift card redemption policies before placing an order.
Gift Cards that Can be Used in Other Countries
Below is a list of gift cards that can be purchased in the United States and used internationally or can be purchased internationally with a U.S. bank account.
|Gift Card||International Rules||Countries|
|American Eagle Outfitters||The American Eagle Outfitters website says that American Eagle or Aerie gift cards may be used online or “in any United States or Canada AE and/or Aerie store.”
Please note, however, that the gift card will be accepted for purchase online in U.S. dollars and that the funds will be processed at face value in U.S. funds. When you redeem a gift card at an American Eagle Outfitters store in Canada, the currency will be converted at the register.
|United States and Canada|
|Amazon.com||The Amazon.com gift card works a little bit differently than the others I reviewed in that the cards appear to be country-specific. According to the Amazon.com gift card terms and conditions, an Amazon.com gift card is only redeemable toward the purchase of products on Amazon.com. Similarly, an Amazon.co.uk gift card is only redeemable on the Amazon.co.uk website. The same is true for Amazon.ca, Amazon.cn, Amazon.de and so forth. So you cannot use an Amazon.com gift card on one of their international websites.
However, you can purchase an Amazon.com gift card with a non-U.S. credit card, and vice versa. So while the gift card itself is only redeemable in one country, Amazon will accept payment from another.
To make purchases and redemption easier, Amazon has a currency conversion tool that can be used at checkout to calculate the value of a gift card. And, of course, you’ll want to check the website’s shipping policies to ensure the gift card (or any products the recipient purchases with the gift card) can be shipped to the desired address before placing an order.
|Applebee’s||According to the Applebee’s website, “…Gift Cards purchased in either the U.S. or Canada are accepted in both countries. Cross-acceptance and cross-currency redemption is only possible between the U.S. and Canada at this time.”||United States and Canada|
|Costco||The Costco website says, “Members and non-members may use the Costco Cash Cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and online at Costco.com or on Costco.ca.||United States, Canada and Puerto Rico|
|Eddie Bauer||According to the Eddie Bauer website, “Gift Cards purchased in Eddie Bauer US and Canadian retail stores can be redeemed in participating stores in either country, regardless of card currency.”||United States and Canada|
|GapBanana RepublicOld Navy||After an exhaustive search of the company’s website, I called customer service to find out if Gap brand gift cards can be used outside of the U.S. According to the customer service agent I spoke with, Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy gift cards purchased in the U.S. can be redeemed at any of those stores in Canada. Conversely, you can order a Canadian gift card from the Gap Canada Website using a U.S. credit card. In both cases, however, a currency conversion will be used to determine the card value.
I received further clarification that, “the balance will always be in USD, and the currency conversion takes place at the POS at the time of redemption. So, If the customer calls the 800 number or uses the website to check the balance at any time – it will be reported back to the customer in USD.”
|United States and Canada|
|Hyatt||The Hyatt website says that Hyatt gift cards are “valid in the United States, Canada and Caribbean.”||United States, Canada and Caribbean|
|Sephora||Sephora gift cards and egift cards can be redeemed in Sephora stores in the U.S. and in Canada and in Sephora stores inside of U.S. JCPenney stores. The Sephora website specifically says that “eGift Certificates can only be used on Sephora.com or on our mobile app and are redeemable for online purchases of merchandise only in the United States.” So make sure you have a gift card or egift card rather than a certificate.||United States and Canada|
|Starbucks||Starbucks cards can be used in a variety of places. According to the Starbucks website, “Starbucks Cards are accepted at most Starbucks locations in North America, including airport and grocery locations. Starbucks Cards can also be used interchangeably at most stores in Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Starbucks Cards issued in Greece, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey may only be used in the country from which they are issued.”||United States Australia Canada Hong Kong Ireland Mexico United Kingdom.|
|Subway||The Subway website says that the physical SUBWAY® Card is usable in the U.S. and Canada, but the eCard is only usable at participating SUBWAY® restaurants in the U.S. “The eCard is only available in USD and must be registered prior to use.”||United States and Canada|
|Tim Hortons||The Tim Hortons website says that “you can use your TimCard® at participating restaurants in both Canada and the U.S.”||United States and Canada|
|Whole Foods||According to Whole Foods, A U.S gift card can be redeemed at any Whole Foods Market location in Canada and a Canada gift card can be redeemed at any Whole Foods Market location in the United States. “However, U.S or Canadian gift cards cannot be used in the UK, and UK gift cards cannot be used in North America.”
Additionally, Whole Foods gift cards can be purchased with a non-US/Canadian billing address, but can only be shipped to an address in the United States or Canada.
|United States and Canada|
Country-specific Gift Cards
I checked several other store and restaurant gift cards such as Apple, iTunes, Fandango, Target, Walmart, McDonald’s, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond and so forth. All say (in one way or another) that their gift cards are country-specific, meaning that their gift cards can only be used in their country of origin and that the company will not sell a gift card to someone with a foreign address or payment method.
Gift Card Currency Conversion
For those stores and restaurants that do allow their gift cards to be used outside of the U.S., a currency conversion will be needed to calculate the value of the gift card. For example, if you buy a gift card in the United States for 50 U.S. dollars and give it to someone in Canada, the card will be worth approximately 65 Canadian dollars, depending on the exchange rate at the time the gift card is redeemed–not the exchange rate in place when the gift card was purchased.
That’s what I’ve found so far. Digging up the answer to whether or not a gift card can be used in Canada turned into quite a challenge. Some websites clearly outline whether or not their cards can be used internationally, some provide clarification deep inside terms and conditions pages and others don’t have cross-border redemption listed at all. So I will update this list whenever I come across a new opportunity. In the meantime, let me know if you find other gift cards that can be used in other countries or purchased from other countries and used in the United States. We might not have the flexibility of sending Visa gift cards to friends and family members across the border, but there are some really great store brand gift card alternatives. If you have other suggestions, leave a note in the comments below or reach me at @GCGirlfriend on Twitter.
Happy Gift Carding!
~Shelley Hunter, Gift Card Girlfriend