How to Buy Visa Gift Cards

How to Buy Visa Gift Cards
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Visa gift cards may be good anywhere Visa is accepted, but you can't buy them anywhere. The cards, which start with a fixed amount and can't be reloaded, are available for purchase in person or online. Various financial institutions issue these cards, and they determine the terms and conditions. You'll get a slightly different product depending on where and how you buy them

Denominations and Activation Costs

The available denominations for Visa gift cards vary with the issuer but typically begin at $20 or $25. You can also "create your own" and have blank cards loaded in even dollar amounts up to $500 or more. Most also require an activation fee, which is approximately $4 for most cards. You can compare terms and fees on Visa and other gift cards online at

Buying In Person

Visa gift cards are sold at banks, grocery stores, big box stores and many other retailers nationwide. If you don't know of a location near you, the search tool on the Visa website can help. Select "Gift Cards" on the drop-down menu on the left. On the right side, enter your street address and zip code or city and state and click "Search." The cards are usually sold like any other retail item, which means you can pay by check, debit card, credit card or cash, depending on the store. When you buy Visa gift cards in a store, the cashier must activate them at the register.

Buying Online

Many financial institutions and major retailers such as Walmart and Target sell the cards online, although some banks only sell to their customers. You can also locate online vendors on the Visa gift card website. Choose a vendor and click the icon. First choose a card design and gift amount, and then select a delivery method, such as mail or email. Enter information on the recipient, including his address or email. The vendor will accept payment by check or credit card.

Other Gift Card Fees

Know what you're buying before you purchase gift cards. Read the terms and conditions online or on the back of the card. For example, some charge a monthly inactivity fee after one year of non-use. These fees may continue until the card's value expires. Card issuers also typically charge a replacement fee for lost cards. Some Visa gift cards are good only in America. Cards that are valid abroad typically charge a foreign currency transaction fee of 1 percent or more.

Activating Online Cards

Some online card purchases arrive already activated, while others require activation. You must call an 800 number to activate some cards, while you can register others online. To register online, you typically enter the gift card number and an activation code. With some online vendors, only bulk purchases require activation.