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BEWARE! Are You On the REAL

How to find the AUTHENTIC website and be sure you are on the correct website before entering your gift card number and PIN.

Do you have a gift card from Congratulations! Visa and Mastercard gift cards are so flexible. You can use them nearly anywhere you want both in stores and online. Whenever I get a bank-issued gift card like the ones sold by, I put them in my wallet next to the debit and credit cards I used most often. That way, I remember to spend the prepaid cards before dipping into my own funds. And I make sure to use every bit of the money on those cards–every last cent. In the blog post below, I’ll share everything you need to know to activate, check the balance, and successfully use your Visa or Mastercard gift card from

Go to the REAL gift card website.

1. Activate a Gift Card

When you receive a prepaid debit card from, you first need to activate the gift card. To do this, you MUST go to the correct website, which is generally listed on the back of the gift card and, oftentimes, printed on a sticker across the front of the gift card as well. You may also find a telephone number or a QR code to use instead.

Below is a screenshot of what the CURRENT website landing page looks like. Of course, the images may change and the colors could too, but if you are on the correct website, the URL in the address bar should start with “”.

If you don’t see that URL, call the phone number on the gift card or use the QR code to be safe.

real GiftCardMall dot com website

I know this must seem like an obvious suggestion, but I often hear from customers who think their gift cards aren’t working only to discover that they are trying to activate their gift cards on the wrong websites. There are many prepaid gift card issuers, so be sure to enter the website directly into the address bar exactly as it is written. Do not do a “search” in hopes of landing on the correct page.

Here’s a Tip!

If you find that the print on the back of the gift card is too small to read, use your phone to zoom in on the details. This is an easy way to ensure you are reading the activation website correctly and double-check that you got the right one.

enlarging the print on back of gift card activate

2. Check the Balance of a Gift Card

If you need to check the balance of a gift card from, then go directly to the website listed on your card. I cannot stress enough the challenges people face when they try to search for the correct web address rather than typing it exactly how it is printed on the card. Though it may seem easier to type a variation of the address to save a few keystrokes, doing so could land you on the wrong website entirely–no matter how close the URL resembles the correct one.

In this video below, I’ll show you how easy it is to get the wrong website address when activating a gift card and why it’s important to type the website address correctly.

3. Get Help with a Gift Card

If you need help with a gift card from, go directly to that website and look for the Frequently Asked Questions or the Contact Us page listed on the bottom of the page. To make it easier for you, I am including links here as well:

You’ll find information on how to replace a lost gift card or report a gift card lost or stolen as well.

4. Remember to Use a Gift Card

It’s important to know that rebate gift cards, customer reward gift cards, and other types of incentive gift cards often come with expiration dates and non-use fees. Since statistics show that the longer you hold onto a gift card, the higher the likelihood you’ll forget to use the card or lose it entirely, I always suggest using any gift card you receive right away. This advice is especially important with cards that expire or can be reduced by fees.

turn gift cards sideways in wallet

To remember to use my gift cards, I take the following steps:

  1. Store Prepaid Card in Wallet. I activate the gift card and put it in my wallet next to the debit card I use most often. This reminds me to use the gift card instead of my debit card whenever I get the chance.
  2. Use Prepaid Cards for Everyday Purchases. Because prepaid debit cards can be used almost anywhere, I try to use them as quickly as possible on the things I’m already planning to buy, like groceries, gas and other essentials. Though not as exciting as buying a new pair of shoes or booking a trip, I am almost guaranteed to use the full value of these gift cards right away–saving the money in my checking account for splurges.
  3. Use My Online Gift Card Hack. Prepaid debit cards can also be redeemed on most websites. If the dollar amount of the online purchase, however, exceeds the value of the gift card, I turn to this trusty hack for using Visa gift cards online so I can complete the transaction with two forms of payment.

5. Avoid Gift Card Scams

Lastly, before entering your gift card number into any website or app, it is a good practice to always ensure you are on the correct page. Scammers sometimes create fake look-alike websites to trick consumers into entering their card information. Once the card number, expiration date, and card verification code (CVC) is captured by a fraudulent website, the gift card balance can be accessed and drained.

This scam ONLY works, however, if you land on the wrong site. So, once again, I suggest simply typing the gift card website address directly into the address bar on your browser. Don’t do a search and you’ll be fine.

using a gift card for online shopping

Here’s a list of other gift card scams you can spot and easily avoid and what to do if you think you’re the victim of a gift card scam.

What other questions do you have about or prepaid gift cards in general? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter (@GCGirlfriend) or Instagram (@Gift.Card.Girlfriend) so I can help you out.

Happy Gift Carding!

~Shelley Hunter, Gift Card Girlfriend

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