Skip to main content

My Gift Card Purchased at CVS Isn’t Working. HELP!

If the gift card you purchased from CVS isn’t working immediately, read this blog post to find out why (and where to turn for help.)

CVS stores

Visa gift card option

Did you purchase a gift card from a CVS store that isn’t working? Please read below to find out what’s most likely happening and how to fix it.

Why Don’t Gift Cards Purchased at CVS Work Immediately?

back of a vanilla visa gift card

To buy a gift card at CVS, you select a card from the rack of possible options and take it to the cashier. The cashier scans the card and enters the dollar value to put onto the card. When the transaction is complete, the system activates the gift card.

The gift card will be active and ready for use as follows:

  • STORE AND RESTAURANT GIFT CARDS. Most national brand gift cards purchased from CVS are activated and ready for immediate use after purchase.
  • ONLINE USE GIFT CARDS. Gift cards primarily intended for online use (e.g., eBay, Google Play, Xbox, Nintendo, etc.) may not work immediately after purchase because many stores have implemented security delays to thwart gift card fraud. Look for any required waiting period to be printed on the gift card packaging or purchase receipt.
  • VANILLA VISA GIFT CARDS. Vanilla Visa and other bank-issued gift cards purchased at CVS are also subject to similar delays. Check the gift card packaging or receipt for warnings about when the card will be usable.

If there is no waiting period, try using the card. Once I received a gift card that appeared to be inactive. When I called the automated balance check phone number and checked the balance online, both said the card was invalid. Finally, I just tried using the card. And it worked. So try that.

Secondly, read the terms and conditions of the gift card to see if you’re trying to use it on a restricted site or if there are other limitations on the card.

Buy electronic Visa gift cards from Giftcards.com

Where to Get Help if a Gift Card Purchased at CVS Isn’t Working

Vanilla Visa fraud warning

A Reddit reader complained that he purchased three Vanilla Visa gift cards at CVS. One card did not work. When he checked the receipt, he discovered the receipt listed three cards–two card numbers that matched the cards received and one that did not. His frustration increased when the gift card company wouldn’t honor the inactive card.

Gift cards purchased at CVS involve the store, the gift card brand, and the card issuer. Each party has some of the information needed to solve a gift card problem, but no party has access to all of it.

Here’s what it looks like:

  • THE STORE (CVS): The store has a transaction record that should include the last four digits of the card purchased and the dollar amount added to the card. It can also confirm the date, time and location of the purchase. If you used a debit, credit or loyalty card at checkout, the store might be able to confirm the identity of the customer who purchased the gift card. The store cannot access the balance or see transactions on the gift card.

    CVS cannot investigate what happened to the card balance after purchase.
  • THE GIFT CARD BRAND (e.g., eBay, Best Buy, Google Play, etc.): The gift card brand can confirm transactions such as the date, time and location of activation. The brand can check the balance on the card and see when and where the card got used.

    The brand does not know the identity of the person who bought or used the card.
  • THE GIFT CARD ISSUER (Incomm): In general, Incomm is the gift card issuer at CVS. If the gift card purchased is bank-issued (e.g., Vanilla Visa, Vanilla Mastercard, etc.), Incomm can check card-level transaction data such as the activation date and dollar value. If the gift card is store-issued (e.g., Best Buy, Target, etc.) Incomm can only confirm the activation.

    The gift card issuer cannot access gift card information on branded gift cards or customer purchase information from the store.

Knowing what information each party has access to can help you understand where to get help if a gift card purchased at CVS doesn’t work.

How to Report a Problem with a Gift Card Purchased at CVS

back of vanilla visa card

Because several parties are involved, you will likely have to work with more than one and be patient in the process. Here is the order in which I would try to get help:

1. Contact the Brand

On the back of each gift card, you’ll find the issuing brand’s contact information (website and telephone number). Type the URL into a browser precisely as written. Please do NOT search for it online because scammers create look-alike websites to capture card information from people who accidentally land on their sites. If you contact the company online, creating an account will likely result in better customer service and a way to track the issue.

The goal of contacting the gift card issuer is to dispute rogue transactions and see if they will issue a replacement gift card with proof of purchase. Since you didn’t purchase the gift card directly from the brand, this may not be an option.

2. Contact Vanilla Visa by Incomm

Contact the gift card issuer if you have a Vanilla Visa gift card or Vanilla Mastercard gift card. I get a lot of requests for help with Vanilla Visa because Giftcards.com also sells Visa gift cards. But only the company that issued the gift card can help.

Check the gift card packaging to find the correct gift card issuer.

Again, the goal of contacting the gift card issuer is to determine the card’s status and confirm the card’s value. Questions you might ask include:

  • What is the current balance?
  • Was the card loaded correctly?
  • Did it get used immediately?
  • Did it get used in another location by another person?
  • Is there another reason my card might not be working?

If applicable, dispute rogue transactions and see if they will issue a replacement gift card. If you received a different card from the one on the purchase receipt (as happened to the Reddit reader described above), ask Incomm to open an investigation.

3. Contact CVS

If you believe the store mishandled the transaction, report the problem to CVS. Talk to a manager and file a report if possible. Here is a link to the CVS Customer Service page.

4. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Finally, if you think you’re the victim of a scam, and you can’t get a resolution by talking to the gift card parties, contact the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call their toll-free number at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

How to Avoid a Problem with a Gift Card Purchase at CVS

When purchasing a gift card from any store, pay attention to the transaction–ensure that the gift card you hand to the cashier is the one that gets activated and handed back to you. Check the numbers on the activation receipt to confirm they match. Keep the receipt until the total value of the gift card is used to your satisfaction.

Gift card issuers process hundreds of thousands of transactions a day, and foul play is rarely an issue, but even one compromised gift card is too many if you’re affected by it. So check your receipt to see if there is a waiting period on your card, read the terms and conditions to look for other use restrictions, and contact the appropriate parties if there is an error.

Need More Help?

Here’s a blog post on what to do when a Visa gift card is not working online.

Gift Card Girlfriend

What other questions do you have about gift cards purchased at CVS? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter (@GCGirlfriend) or on Instagram (@Gift.Card.Girlfriend).

Happy Gift Carding!

~Shelley Hunter, Gift Card Girlfriend

.
comments powered by Disqus

The Giftcards.com Visa® Gift Card, Visa Virtual Gift Card, and Visa eGift Card are issued by MetaBank®,N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. The Visa Gift Card can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted in the US. No cash or ATM access. The Visa Virtual Gift Card can be redeemed at every internet, mail order, and telephone merchant everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted in the US. No cash or ATM access. The Giftcards.com Visa eGift Card can be redeemed online or in stores everywhere contactless Visa debit cards are accepted in the U.S. No cash or ATM access. The Giftcards.com Visa Reward Cards are issued by MetaBank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. The Visa Reward Card can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. No cash or ATM Access. The Giftcards.com Mastercard® Gift Cards are issued by MetaBank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated. The Mastercard Gift Virtual Account is issued by MetaBank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard Gift Virtual Account can be redeemed at every internet, mail order, and telephone merchant everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted in the US. Mastercard Gift Cards can be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted in the US. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. The merchants represented are not sponsors of Giftcards.com or otherwise affiliated with Giftcards.com The logos and other identifying marks attached are trademarks of and owned by each represented company and/or its affiliates. Please visit each company's website for additional terms and conditions.

Giving Good Gift Cards, Happy Gift Cards, Holiday Favorites Gift Cards, and Choice Gift Cards are curated by Blackhawk Network and issued by MetaBank®, N.A., Member FDIC.