Are you trying to find out your gift card balance but not sure where to turn?
This has been a big problem for me — because I receive a lot of gift cards during holidays, and don’t always know how much money I have on any of them.
It’s easy to lose track when you have more than one card. (And sometimes when you have only a single card! Believe me…)
Plus, some gift card companies start charging administrative fees against the remaining balances on gift cards after a period of several months, meaning you may have an even lower balance on some gift cards than you originally thought!
So where do you find out what your gift card balances are and how long you have to spend them before the funds dry up?
Well, that depends on the kind of gift card you have.
Here’s a list of handy resources that I’ve put together from my own experience and research to help you find out how much money is left on your gift cards…
The Best Gift Card Balance Checker
Gift Card Granny is one of my favorite gift card balance websites — because it gives you access to balances on gift cards from more than 500 different stores, restaurants, and vendors. Plus you can also buy gift cards there.
If you have a gift card from a retailer that you can’t find on the Gift Card Granny site, my advice (it’s worked for me so far) is to visit Google and type in the name of the retailer and the phrase “gift card balance.”
What About Visa, MasterCard & American Express Gift Card Balances?
Well… I can save you a lot of time!
Here are the direct links to gift card balance sites for all of the major bank card companies that issue gift cards:
- American Express Gift Card Balance
- Discover Gift Card Balance
- Vanilla Visa Gift Card Balance
- Vanilla MasterCard Gift Card Balance
Are There Things You Can’t Buy With Gift Cards?
I thought you’d never ask. Actually, I’ve never had a problem using my gift cards for purchases because I usually only buy “normal” merchandise with them — like clothes, electronics, and furniture.
Having worked one time in a bill collections setting, I know that gift cards usually can’t be used to make recurring payments — such as for utilities, subscriptions, and the like. However, gift cards are often acceptable for one-time payments on those transactions.
I also read that gift card companies do not normally allow their cards to be used for naughty transactions (you get the idea), or those involving illegal drugs and substances.
How To Avoid Gift Card Fees
It’s easier than ever to get snagged with gift card fees and other hidden surcharges these days.
Some gift cards charge activation fees and transaction fees, while others assess maintenance fees only 6 or 12 months after a gift card is activated.
If you order gift cards online, they sometimes charge shipping fees that can range from $2 to $5.
Use your gift card to make an online purchase (who among us hasn’t done that?), and you might get charged a transaction fee of $3.95 or more.
The best thing you can do to avoid gift card fees is to read the terms with your specific gift card (all that small print on the back of your card or that little foldout sheet that came with your gift card).
Here are some handy money-saving tips:
- Check your gift card balance on a regular basis — to see if any fees have been withdrawn from your account.
- Hang onto a gift card like it’s cash — because once it’s gone, it’s gone. And companies that do replace lost gift cards (bank cards, mainly) may charge as much as $15 for a new card.
- Spend the money on your gift card as soon as possible — wait too long and you might get charged maintenance fees.
- Make sure there are no surcharges for online orders — if so, either eat the fee or go buy what you want at a brick-and-mortar store instead.
More About Gift Cards
- Gift Card Trading 101
- Unused Gift Cards: What If The Company Goes Out Of Business?
- Buyer’s Guide To Gift Cards: 5 Questions To Ask Before Buying
- DIY Gift Card Holders You Can Make Yourself
- What Types Of Fees Can Be Imposed On Gift Cards?
- Increased Consumer Protections For Gift Cards
I’m a roller coaster junkie, a weather enthusiast, a frequent traveler, and a numismatist. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG). I’ve also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, food, and living green… on a budget. I work from home full-time as a journalist, reporter, and author.