Fabulous Frugal Finds

How to Use Up Your Visa Gift Card Balance

My super-easysolutionto use up your  If you’re like me, at any given time I have at least three Visa or Master Card gift cards in my wallet, sometimes tossed to the bottom of my purse.   The reason why these cards are so carelessly sitting in the bottom of my purse is because they have obscure balances on them that I can’t seem to use up.

You can certainly try to use the remaining balance of your card in store, but if your experience has been like mine it’s difficult getting cashiers to process coupons, even more so to process a Visa gift card with $1.41 left on it.  The cashier has to enter the exact amount on the card or it will be declined (unlike a store credit card that, when swiped, will just take off whatever balance is left.)  I’ve used up several cards this way, if I can find a cashier that is friendly and willing to do so, but it’s not something that happens often.

My friend Sheri at Kidsumers uses her balances to pay her bills online.  Even adding a few dollars here and there can help chop away at the monthly cable bill for example.  I thought her idea was genius until I tried it for myself with Sasktel Mobility, my local cell service provider.  I signed up for their e-bill service and entered in a payment for $1.41, the amount left on one of those Visa gift cards at the bottom of my purse.  I discovered quickly that this method won’t work for me – SaskTel Mobility asks that payments be at least $5.00!  So much for that idea…

However, I found a solution that worked for me and I’m excited to share it with you!

amazon gift card

Use your remaining Visa or MC Gift Card balances to buy Amazon.ca gift certificates for yourself!

Step 1:
Call the number on the back of your card to determine the remaining amount and write this amount on the card with a Sharpie marker.

Step 2:
Sign into your Amazon.ca account, then click Your Account (top right hand corner) then Redeem a Gift Card.

Step 3:
On the left hand side under More Gift Certificate Links, click Purchase a Gift Card.

Step 4:
Choose E Mail as your delivery method, then click Buy Now.

Step 5:
Under Amount select Set My Own and then enter the exact amount of the gift card you have. Fill in your name and email info.

Step 6:
You will then need to sign into your account again (annoying…but worth it). On the next page, fill in your Visa Gift Card information, making sure to enter in Valued Customer or For You (whatever the name is on the card). Click Continue and confirm your order.

Step 7:
Wait for the email to arrive with the gift certificate code you’ve just purchased. Click the link in the email to apply the code to your Amazon.ca account.

Step 8:
Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and the full amount of your gift card finally used up!

I make no apologies for being frugal.  I wouldn’t throw away $1.41 at the bottom of my purse but every year, industry articles are written sharing the astounding amount of unused gift card amounts and it shocks me!  Use up those gift cards!  Maybe you can pay small amounts on your bills online like my friend Sheri, or maybe this Amazon.ca solution will work well for you!  If not, what have you done to use up your gift cards?  Have you tossed one away with a low amount because it was too hard to spend?  It’s OK, I won’t get too anxious over it as long as you tell me it will never happen again!

65 Comments

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  • I do this all the time!..Even if it is only less than a dollar,I have bought amazon codes out of it,to add to my amazon account 🙂 ..Every little bit counts!

  • Nice, I never thought of that, I always make sure whatever I spend is more than the gift card total, thug bringing it to zero on first use. This would work like a charm!

  • Thank you for this! I don’t want to sound ungrateful but when I’ve received a Visa or MC gift card as a gift in the past I have cringed. Simply because as you say above, trying to use up a balance is very frustrating!
    I have $27.36 left on one right now and I will finally be able to use it!

  • I do the same thing with odd balances on Visa gift cards. It’s a great way to use up every last penny and apply it to my Amazon account.

  • I know what you mean by cashiers not knowing what to do with a small balance or wont do transactions less than $5. Such a pain! The amazon.com idea is brilliant! When we have less than $5.00 on it we just use the remainder for itunes and can usually get a few apps or song downloads for the rest of the balance but that still leaves less than a dollar in most cases which ends up going to waste. Thanks for the tips!

  • I had no problems with small balances when you know the amount left. Walmart seems to take anything. I am sure most of us shop there

  • Love this tip, as I have probably 10 cards with anything from $0.36 – $8.00 on them that I had just kind of forgotten about. I’ll be digging them out tonight.

  • Thanks for sharing!! Great tip and I just used 3.34 on my visa GC towards my cable bill online! Thanks so much!!!

  • Visa /Master Card gift cards are the worst type of gift cards I’ve ever seen – total pain. I’m glad I never actually received one as a gift! Your tips make it a little bit easier to not get frustrated about them 🙂 Thank you!

  • Thanks I was wondering if something like this existed. What would be better is if we could transfer it to our PayPal account I don’t exactly want to be forced to shop on Amazon. Honestly don’t see why this isnt possible if one was to transfer their remaining funds to their PayPal account.

    • Nice! I’ll have to check that out, though I don’t have a Starbucks near me (an hour away, which is probably a good thing!)

  • Thanks for posting this. I would have rather been able to do it at amazon.com (I live in Canada). But I am still happy. Those Visa giftcards are just the dumbest things ever.

  • i worked for starbucks for a long time and i can’t count the number of times people would just throw gift cards with twenty-five to ninety five cents left on them into our tip jar just because the idea of using it again was too much of a hassle. it was always a process of one of us using them to buy our lunch and then dropping the cash in the tip jar so it could be split up but we always did it because every cent counts

  • I head to Starbucks (okay, not the most frugal choice for coffee) and I ask to add the amount to my Starbucks card. I would think that you should be able to do that with other stores that have cards you can add balances to as well. 🙂

  • I write the balance of the card on the back of the card or on a sticky on the back of the card.
    I use up the small balance anywhere…they have to accept it.
    If I’m at a grocery store and the give me the total, I ask them to use $1.41 off of this card and I’ll pay the balance in cash or credit card. I’ve never had a cashier reject it BUT you have to know the balance which you can also get online.

  • Fantastic ideas! A few weeks ago I dug my Visa gift cards out of my daughter’s toy box just to double check the balances. These particular cards had been purchased long ago (before the terms had changed), and I never knew what to do with the $3/$4 left on them. After some time, $2.50 had been deducted each month until all the remaining money was gone. In total I lost over $20 in random dollar amounts. Thankfully they don’t charge those silly fees any longer. I wish I had known then what to do with those amounts, but I’m extremely grateful now that I found your tip.

  • That is FANTASTIC!! I have 2 VISA “Gift Cards” and no what is left on it..exactley. Thanks for the Amazon stuff!! 🙂

  • Thanks so much for this info! I have used up small balances in-store, but I tried the Amazon idea just now and I liked that much better. Now I have 79 more cents in my account! LOL I’ll take it!

  • These are great ways to use up those annoying little amounts left over on Visa Gift Cards. The last card that I a leftover balance on, I applied to my gold Starbucks card…what can I say…I drink a lot of coffee.

  • I have bookmarked this Such a Great idea. We have all been stuck with unusable balances. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • Oooohhhh this is neat! I did not know about this … I do have a few cards laying around that I can now use at Amazon! thanks!

  • I actually have a substantial size stack of MC & Visa gift cards that all have anywhere from .90 cents to 2.37 on them . This is a fabulous idea . One rainy day very soon I am going to tackle this . Great Idea Thank You

  • Woo, that’s a great idea. I have a bunch of VISA gift cards with these little annoying balances and I just gave up using them. I hope they haven’t expired or been dinged with those pesky fees that kick in after its past a certain date.

  • Great tip!! Thanks for sharing. I also found that I couldn’t apply small bits of credit card balances to my bills either and was wondering how to use them up. I love Amazon so this is a win-win!

  • Recently when I was in North Carolina, USA it was a great opportunity to use up these small balances. The local grocery stores allow you to swipe your card and the machine figured out the remaining card balance and deducted it. The challenging part I found in Canada was needing to know the exact amount remaining, but no longer having the PIN or credentials to check online/by phone. This solved the issue for me. Luckily the cashier, with no line, was more than happy to have me swipe FOUR different cards to clear them all. It was a literal weight of my shoulders. Hated the thought of throwing away money, and it ended by being just shy of $30! That’s a lot of money.
    Canada really should have this feature. Get the computers to figure out the balance remaining automatically!

    • Wouldn’t that be amazing? I had to guess an amount on boxing day because what I had written on my card (in sharpie!) wasn’t right. Argh!

  • I kept some Visa gift cards with a few dollars and cents here and there, but couldn’t throw them away; it adds up! Your Amazon idea is awesome, I never thought of it. Now I can finally do something with those minuscule balances! 🙂

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