How to Use Visa® Gift Cards Online for Partial Payment
How Visa gift cards can be used online for partial payment when the balance of the gift card is less than the amount due.
Why Online Payments are Different
Electronic gift cards are easy to use online because you don’t have to print out a paper copy of the gift card or enter the number into a mobile wallet or gift card app in order to take the gift card to the store. You simply type the gift card or egift card number into the website’s shopping cart and complete the transaction. Whether the gift card is plastic or electronic, using it online is especially easy if you have a store gift card, also known as a closed loop gift card.
When you have an open loop gift card such as a Visa Gift Card or Visa egift card, however, being able to use it online sometimes requires knowing a few tricks.
The Tricky Thing About Using Visa Gift Cards Online
The most important thing to know about using a gift card online is that you enter the Visa gift card number into the debit or credit card payment field rather than a gift card field. (The gift card field is for the store’s branded gift cards, not for open loop gift cards.)
So if the dollar value of transaction is greater than the dollar amount on your Visa gift card, the transaction will decline and you will not be given the chance to enter a bank card to pay the difference.
If this happens to you, do not worry. I’ve got some gift card hacks to help you use your gift cards online even when your gift card is less than the balance.
Can I Pay with More than One STORE Gift Card?
Though there are a few reasons why sometimes Visa gift cards do not work online, the most common reason a Visa gift card gets declined online is that the dollar amount on the gift card is less than the total amount due.
When checking out on a store’s website, you typically have the option to apply a store gift card to the purchase and pay any remaining balance with a debit or credit card. In fact, some store websites will let you apply multiple store gift cards to a single transaction. Doing this is called “partial payment” (pay part of the bill with one form of payment and the remaining portion with another) or “split-tender transaction” (split the transaction into multiple forms of payment). Most store website shopping carts are equipped to handle split-tender transactions as long as the splits include store gift cards.
If you are paying with a Visa gift card, however, there is generally no place to put both a Visa gift card and a bank card.
Can I Pay with More than One VISA Gift Card?
Many people think that you cannot use a Visa gift card online if the transaction exceeds the dollar value on the Visa gift card. While that is true, the problem is more of a technical issue than a limitation of the gift card.
When you look at an online shopping cart, you will generally see a field to enter a gift card number (it might say “apply gift card to transaction”) and a field to enter a debit or credit card. The split tender or partial gift card payment transaction is possible when paying with a store gift card because you enter the store gift card into the gift card field and you enter your debit or credit card into the other field. But since a Visa gift card is entered into the debit or credit card field, there’s no other place to enter your debit or credit card to complete the transaction.
Without a little creativity, there is generally no way to use more than one Visa card to complete an online purchase. I have never seen an online shopping cart that allowed more than one bank card, of any type, to be applied to a purchase.
Here’s the Trick: Make Partial Payment with a Visa Gift Card
Perhaps in the future, shopping cart developers will create a new field for open-loop gift cards (rather than re-purposing the debit or credit card field) or they will allow shoppers to enter more than one bank card, specifying how much to charge to each one. Until then, we have to work around the problem of how to use a Visa gift card online when the transaction amount exceeds the balance of the card.
Here’s how to use a Visa gift card online, no matter what the balance is:
1. If the Visa gift card balance is greater than the transaction total, then simply enter the Visa gift card number into the credit or debit card field on the checkout form and complete the transaction.
2. If the Visa gift card balance is less than the transaction total, then first use the Visa egift card to buy a store egift card for the same amount. When the store’s egift card arrives, return to your original transaction and apply the store’s egift card to your purchase. Pay any remaining balance due with a debit or credit card.
Although this solution requires an extra step, it is one way Visa gift cards can be used when the balance of the card is less than the total amount due.
Where to Buy the Store’s eGift Card
Sometimes you do not know the transaction is going to exceed the gift card balance until the shopping cart gets loaded up with shipping charges and taxes. When that happens, there are two ways to quickly get an egift card to use:
1. Empty the Cart and Start Over When the total purchase is greater than the value of the gift card, one solution is to cancel the items in your cart and buy an egift card instead. When the egift card arrives, you can start over.
2. Buy the eGift Card Elsewhere Another option is to buy the egift card from a different website. If you want a Sephora egift card, for example, you can buy that here at GiftCards.com.
Hack Away Small Balances
This gift card workaround is also a great way to get rid of a pesky small balance on a gift card. I recently found that I still had a Visa gift card in my mobile wallet with a balance of $4.09. Knowing it would be a challenge to use this exact amount online and would be more of a nuisance to use it in stores, I used the gift card to buy an Amazon.com egift card for exactly $4.09. After completing the transaction, the Amazon egift card arrived in my email within seconds. I then logged back into Amazon and applied the dollar amount to my Amazon account. The next time I make a purchase (knowing me, it will be within the week), I’ll be able to apply that $4.09 credit to my bill. I would much rather take the time to do this than leave an unused balance on a gift card indefinitely. Using the money took a little effort. Not using it would have been a waste.
Over time, I’m hoping online shopping carts will get more sophisticated and customers will have the option to split transactions into multiple forms of payment–perhaps paying half of the bill with a gift card, a quarter of the amount due with PayPal and the final balance with Bitcoin. But until that happens, a few gift card hacks will have to do.
Got any other gift card problems you can’t solve? Let me know in the comments below or leave a message for @GCGirlfriend on Twitter.
Happy Gift Carding!
~Shelley Hunter, Gift Card Girlfriend