Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards

494

Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards: Updates…

Update 11/1/20: Added Gift Card Granny to the Buy Online section.

Update 10/7/20: Added USPS to the Buy Online section.

Update 8/5/20: Added VanillaGift.com, Office Depot, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Sam’s Club, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Amazon, Incomm Incentives & Target to the Buy Online section.

Update 7/28/20: Added the reduced limits on Visa Gift Card loads ($250 max) at GiftCardMall.com and GiftCards.com

Update 6/23/20: Added the coming GiftCardMall monthly portal rewards cap and the Simon Visa Gift Card bulk ordering option that debuted a few months ago.


A common practice for increasing credit card rewards is to use a credit card to buy PIN-enabled Visa or Mastercard gift cards, and then liquidate those cards by using them to reload prepaid cards, buy money orders, or pay bills.

The first step is to find PIN-enabled Visa or Mastercard gift cards that can be bought with a credit card, with low fees, and without risk of incurring cash advance fees.  That’s where this post can help.  Note that this post focuses on options available within the United States only.  Within the US, options vary by region, by county, by store, and even from one cashier to another.

You can often find promotions to save on the activation fees listed below. For the deals happening right now, see our Current Visa and Mastercard Gift Card Deals page.

Buy online

GiftCards.com

Order online through a cash back portal in order to recover some or all of the fees.

GiftCards Visa with name

Card Notes: When first buying cards from GiftCards.com, it is recommended that you start slowly.  If you buy too many in a short period of time, they may shut down your ability to buy more cards.

 

Max value: $250

Max order size: $2500 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $4.95 + shipping. Shipping is either $1.99 per card for first class mail or $7.45 for an entire order with tracking.

Can include your name on gift card? Yes

Portal rebate available? Yes. Portal rates are sometimes better for Mastercard gift cards than for Visa gift cards. Find current portal rates here (but note that you’ll have to click into each portal to find Visa/MC specific rates). Cash back may be earned on up to $2K per month through portals (this changed in July 2020).

PIN enabled? Yes. After activating online you’ll be given a 4 digit PIN and you can then change the PIN if you prefer.

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: MetaBank

Credit card category bonus: None that I’m aware of

GiftCardMall.com

Order online through a cash back portal in order to recover some or all of the fees.

GiftCardMall Silver Visa

PIN safe now: GiftCardMall used to sell two types of Visa gift cards.  One type (sold by IncentiveCardLabs) didn’t have PINs.  Now, they only sell cards issued by MetaBank, so all of their Visa gift cards should have PINs.

Card notes: GiftCardMall is known to have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to cancelling orders.  If you intend to place larger orders, you should increase order size slowly.

Max value: $250

Max order size: $10,000 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $5.95 + shipping. Shipping fees vary depending on the number of cards you purchase and they sometimes run promotions for free shipping.

Can include your name on gift card? Yes

Portal rebate available? Yes. Find current portal rates here (but note that you’ll have to click into each portal to find Visa specific rates). As of June 29th, the cap is reduced to $2K in orders per month for portal rewards (see this post).

PIN enabled? Depends (see note on left)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank

Credit card category bonus: None that I’m aware of

Simon Gift Cards Bulk program

Card notes: If you wish to purchase Simon Visa Gift Cards that can be loaded with up to $1,000 per card, you need to first register and be approved for the Simon bulk ordering program (which requires manual verification from Simon’s end). The process can take about a week. You will then re-enter the verification process each time you add a new payment method to your account. Note that you should likely avoid using an Amex because Amex stopped awarding points for in-person Simon Mall purchases, so it is doubtful that Amex would award award points for Simon online purchases. See: Simon Visa Gift Card online bulk ordering. Everything you need to know.

Max value: $1,000

Max order size: $25,000 per day whether in a single or multiple orders (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $3.95

Order processing fee: $10 per order

Shipping fee: Varies. From around $10.

Can include your name on gift card? Yes.

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes (last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank

Credit card category bonus: None

Staples.com

visa gift cards purchase

Card notes: If you pay with a Chase Ink Cash (or the Ink Plus, which is no longer available to new applicants), the $8.95 fee is more than made up for by the 5X Ultimate Rewards points earned (5 X 308.95 = 1545 points per $300 card).  In fact, if you wanted to, you could cash in 895 of those points to reduce your net fees to zero and still earn 650 points per $300 card (i.e. ~2.2X). Note that the card activation PIN is mailed separately a few days behind your gift card order.

Max value: $300

Max order size: $2,000 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $8.95

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes (last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank.

Credit card category bonus: 5X Chase Ink Cash (or Ink Plus, which is no longer available to new applicants), Amex Simply Cash, Discover Business. Other category bonuses can be found here.

VanillaGift.com

VanillaGift

Card notes: VanillaGift.com is one of the few remaining options for buying $500 Visa gift cards online.

Note that Walmart doesn’t accept Vanilla Visa gift cards as debit transactions for more than $50, but other locations should be fine.

Max value: $500

Max order size: $10,000 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $5.95

Can include your name on gift card? Yes

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: TBBK Card Services, Inc., MetaBank, N.A. or Sutton Bank

Credit card category bonus: None

 Office Depot

visa gift cards purchase

Card notes: Although in-store gift card purchases of Visa gift cards at Office Depot can earn you 5x on Ink Plus and Ink Cash cards, that’s sadly not the case online. That’s because Office Depot’s online gift card offering is powered by GiftCardMall and payments are therefore processed by them rather than Office Depot.

GiftCardMall reduced the maximum denomination for Visa gift cards to $250 in July 2020 on their own site, but $500 cards are still available on Office Depot’s site.

The cards come with a $5.95 activation fee, but you can get free trackable shipping.

Max value: $500

Max order size: $5,095.50 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $5.95

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes (last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank

Credit card category bonus: None

 Giant Eagle

visa gift cards purchase

Card notes: Gift card purchases from Giant Eagle online code as groceries.

You don’t have to live in an area with Giant Eagle stores to have them mail gift cards to you.

Max value: $200

Max order size: $2,747.50 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $4.95

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes (last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank

Credit card category bonus: Groceries

 Kroger

Kroger VGC

Card notes: While the activation fee of $5.95 is very high given the card’s low denomination, earning 4x fuel points when Kroger runs that promotion can potentially save you more than that fee when buying gas.

Unlike gift card purchases from Giant Eagle, online gift card purchases from Kroger don’t code as groceries. That’s because, similar to Office Depot, their online gift card offering is run by GiftCardMall.

Max value: $100

Max order size: $1,064.50 (inclusive of fees)

Per card fee: $5.95

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: U.S. Bank

Credit card category bonus: None

Sam’s Club

Sam's Club VGC

Card notes: The $6.48 activation fee and the fact that it’s a Vanilla card means buying Visa gift cards from Sam’s Club isn’t too enticing. However, there are often Amex Offers for Sam’s Club which can make buying them more worthwhile (and profitable) if you wouldn’t use the Amex Offer for organic Sam’s Club purchases.

Max value: $200

Max order size: Seemingly no limits, but unlikely that Sam’s Club will fulfill a $10,324 order for 50 of these cards.

Per card fee: $6.48

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Varies

Credit card category bonus: None

BJ’s Wholesale Club

BJ's VGC

Card notes: The image of the $200 Vanilla Visa on the BJ’s website shows an activation fee of $6.95, but they actually only charge $5.45. That’s still a high fee, but might be worth it if you’re looking to max out wholesale club spending when it’s a 5% category on cards like the Chase Freedom and Discover It.

Max value: $200

Max order size: Seemingly no limits, but unlikely that BJ’s will fulfill a $10,272.50 order for 50 of these cards.

Per card fee: $5.45

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? Possibly. Gift card purchases from BJ’s sometimes track online even though they’re excluded.

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Varies

Credit card category bonus: Wholesale clubs

Amazon (our affiliate link)

visa gift cards purchase

Card notes: The highest denomination is $200 and those come with a $6.95 activation fee which is high as an overall percentage. It might make sense though if you have an Amazon credit card from Chase or Amazon which earns 5% on Amazon purchases.

Max value: $200

Max order size: None listed.

Per card fee: $6.95

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: MetaBank

Credit card category bonus: Amazon

Incomm Incentives

Incomm Incentives VGC

Card notes: Incomm Incentives appears to be set up to sell gift cards in bulk to businesses, so they might have some kind approval process to be accepted.

They offer $500 cards for a $3.25 fee, so it might be worth considering if you have an eligible business.

Note that these are Vanilla Visa gift cards, so these can’t be used for debit transactions over $50 at Walmart.

Max value: $500

Max order size: Seemingly none. This option is set up to buy in bulk (VanillaGift.com directs you to Incomm Incentives if trying to buy $10,000+ in Visa gift cards).

Per card fee: $3.25

Can include your name on gift card? Yes

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Varies (Vanilla).

Credit card category bonus: Unsure.

Target

Target VGC

Card notes: A $6 fee means you’re paying 3% when buying a $200 prepaid card. Target offers a 5% discount when buying gift cards with a RedCard, so that might be worth it if you actually get the 5% discount (I don’t know if you do).

Max value: $200

Max order size: $2,060 (inclusive of fees).

Per card fee: $6.00

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? No

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: TBBK Card Services, Inc. or MetaBank

Credit card category bonus: Unsure.

 

USPS

visa gift cards purchase

Card notes: The highest denomination is $500 and comes with a $5.95 activation fee. The great thing is that they offer free trackable shipping, so the activation fee is the only cost added on.

Stephen had problems trying to check out when logged in, so you might need to use the ‘Checkout As Guest’ option.

Max value: $500

Max order size: $5,000 (before fees)

Per card fee: $5.95 with free trackable shipping.

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? No. Although it’s on a sub-domain of GiftCards.com, it doesn’t seem to track after clicking through from a shopping portal.

PIN enabled? Yes. After activating online you can choose a PIN.

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: MetaBank

Credit card category bonus: None that I’m aware of

Gift Card GrannyGift Card Granny Visa Gift Card

Card notes: It’s not clear who processes payment for these cards (presumably Gift Card Granny, but that might not be the case), although the cards themselves are listed as being issued by MetaBank.

Max value: $500

Max order size: $Unsure

Per card fee: $6.95 with $1.99 shipping per card.

Can include your name on gift card? No

Portal rebate available? Possibly. Gift Card Granny might be available on one or more shopping portals, but we don’t know if Visa gift card purchases will track.

PIN enabled? Likely seeing as it’s issued by MetaBank.

Cash advance fee? Unsure

Issued by: MetaBank

Credit card category bonus: None that I’m aware of

Buy in-person

None of the following in-person options provide a way to recover fees through portals, nor do they offer gift cards with your name on them.

Grocery Stores
Many grocery stores sell Visa and MasterCard gift cards loadable up to $500.visa gift cards purchase
Card notes:
While Visa cards operate normally, U.S. Bank Mastercards do not automatically work as debit cards at Walmart registers. A workaround is to hit the red cancel button almost immediately after swiping so you can change the payment type to “debit”.

Max value: $500

Max order size: Varies by store

Per card fee: $4.95 or $5.95

PIN enabled? Yes. PIN usually comes in the package. If it doesn’t, call 1-866-952-5653 to set the pin.

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: U.S. Bank (usually) or Metabank in some cases.

Credit card category bonus: A number of cards offer up to 5% or even 6% cash back at grocery stores (found here).

Also watch for grocery stores as quarterly category bonus with cards such as Chase Freedom, Citi Dividend, and Discover.

Discount Stores

Stores like Walmart, Target, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club sell a variety of Visa and/or MasterCard gift cards.  Sam’s Club and BJ’s wholesale sells Vanilla brand cards that may look like this:

 

Card notes: Vanilla brand cards do not work as debit cards at Walmart for transactions of $50 or more. In my experience they work fine everywhere else.

Max value: $500

Max order size: Varies by store

Per card fee: Varies

PIN enabled? Yes.

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Varies (Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale sell Vanilla gift cards)

Credit card category bonus: In some cases Walmart or Target may code as a grocery store for earning credit card category bonuses.  For Sam’s Club, look for cards offering wholesale club bonuses (for example, Chase Freedom offered 5X at wholesale clubs in both the 3rd and 4th quarter 2016)

Drug Stores

Many drugstores sell Vanilla brand Visa and MasterCard gift cards loadable up to $500.

OneVanilla.jpg
Card notes: Vanilla brand cards do not work as debit cards at Walmart for transactions of $50 or more. In my experience they work fine everywhere else.

Max value: $500

Max order size: Often limited to one $500 card.

Per card fee: $4.95 or $5.95

PIN enabled? Yes (Use any 4 digits upon first use to set the PIN)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Bancorp

Credit card category bonus: Both the Discover It card and the Chase Freedom card sometimes offer drugstores as a 5X quarterly category.

Office Supply Stores

Many drugstores sell Vanilla brand Visa and MasterCard gift cards loadable up to $500.


Card notes:If you pay with a Chase Ink Cash (or the Ink Plus, which is no longer available to new applicants), the $6.95 fee is more than made up for by the 5X Ultimate Rewards points earned (5 X 308.95 = 1034.75 points per $200 card).  In fact, if you wanted to, you could cash in 695 of those points to reduce your net fees to zero and still earn 339.75 points per $200 card (i.e. ~1.7X). Keep in mind hat office supply stores may also sell “Everywhere” Visas, which are more limited in acceptance though they do have lower fees.

Max value: $200

Max order size: $2,000 (inclusive of fees), though during promotions you may be limited to 1 card.

Per card fee: $6.95 for $200 cards

PIN enabled? Yes (last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Metabank.

Credit card category bonus: 5X Chase Ink Cash (or Ink Plus, which is no longer available to new applicants), Amex Simply Cash, Discover Business. Other category bonuses can be found here.

Gas Stations / Convenience Stores

Some gas stations and convenience stores (which sometimes conveniently code as gas stations for credit card purposes) sell Visa and MasterCard gift cards loadable up to $500. The ability to pay with a credit card varies from region to region and store to store and is often limited to Vanilla brand gift cards.

OneVanilla.jpg
Card notes: Vanilla brand cards do not work as debit cards at Walmart for transactions of $50 or more. In my experience they work fine everywhere else.

Max value: $500

Max order size: Often limited to one $500 card.

Per card fee: $4.95 or $5.95

PIN enabled? Yes (Use any 4 digits upon first use to set the PIN)

Cash advance fee? No

Issued by: Bancorp

Credit card category bonus: A number of cards offer up to 5% cash back at gas stations (found here). Note that some category bonuses are restricted to payments at the pump — those will not work for buying gift cards.

Also watch for gas station quarterly category bonuses with cards such as Chase Freedom, Citi Dividend, and Discover.

Shopping Malls

Many indoor shopping malls have gift card displays, often near the information desk. Visa gift cards aren’t always on display so you may have to ask for them.

simon gift card

Card Notes: Some malls sell Amex gift cards, which are not PIN-enabled and can therefore be harder to use since they generally will not work as debit cards. Visa gift cards are preferable.

Max value: $1,000

Max order size: Varies. A $10,000 limit (inclusive of fees) was typical, but in February 2019 it was announced that the limit at Simon Malls had been raised to as high as $25,000 for qualified buyers. See this post for more.

Per card fee: $3.95 (usually)

PIN enabled? Yes (Last 4 digits)

Cash advance fee? Usually not, but in Feb 2016 there were a few reports of cash advance charges at Simon Malls. That was resolved without subsequent reports.

Other issues?  Amex credit and charge cards do not earn rewards nor credit towards minimum spend for gift card purchases made at Simon Mall.

Issued by: Metabank

Credit card category bonus: None that I’m aware of.

AAA

Check your local AAA office to see if they sell Visa gift cards. Often they’ll run no-fee promotions, especially late in the year.

Card Notes: Some people have reported that buying gift cards from AAA is a cumbersome and time consuming process.  Others have had no such problems. We’ve received at least one report of a customer being charged a cash advance fee when buying AAA gift cards.  Make sure to lower your credit card’s cash advance limit below the amount you plan to spend.

Max value: $500

Max order size: ?

Per card fee: Varies. Often $3 to $3.95 for members. Sometimes fee-free during promos.

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? Usually not. See Card Notes.

Issued by: Metabank

Credit card category bonus: Some AAA branches code as insurance. If you have a card offering a bonus for insurance payments, you might qualify for a bonus this way.

Credit Unions

Credit unions often sell Visa gift cards to their members sometimes with no fee at all.  When they do charge fees, they’re often lower than elsewhere. One example of a credit union that offers Visa gift cards can be found here.

Many credit unions only allow credit cards to be used if you pay with a credit card from that credit union.  Ask your credit union whether they accept 3rd party credit cards for these purchases.

Card Notes: There is always a risk of being charged a cash advance fee. Make sure to lower your credit card’s cash advance limit below the amount you plan to spend.

Max value: $500

Max order size: ?

Per card fee: Varies. $3.95 is typical.

PIN enabled? Yes

Cash advance fee? Possible

Issued by: ?

Credit card category bonus: None.

Reader suggestions

Did we miss any particularly noteworthy options?  Please comment below.

Email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

494 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments