Love them or hate them, gift cards are a popular choice for last-minute presents when you need a gift for someone you don’t know too well or for those on your list who just prefer receiving them. While gift cards are extremely convenient, they can become a hassle when their balances get low. If you have a few Visa gift cards taking up residence in your wallet, you may be frustrated to learn that you can't combine their values onto a single card. However, there are ways to cash out what’s left on them.
Difference Between Prepaid and Gift Cards
Both Visa prepaid cards and Visa gift cards look similar on the surface, and you will even receive a personal identification number, or PIN, with both types of cards. However, while some prepaid Visa cards are reloadable, Visa gift cards are meant to be one-time gifts, and are therefore not generally reloadable. You are free to use your Visa gift card at any merchant that accepts credit cards because it has the Visa logo. Once the balance is gone, however, the card is useless. Prepaid cards and gift cards both have a predetermined amount of money you can spend, but when your prepaid balance is low, you only simply need to reload it. When your Visa gift card balance gets low, you may have to get a little creative to get the last of those dollars and cents.
Combining Payment Methods
Although you cannot combine the balances on your various Visa gift cards onto one gift card, you can pay with more than one funding source. For instance, if you know your Visa gift card balance is below $10.00, you may have a hard time using that balance to complete a purchase entirely on that card. Even worse, you may be left with only a dollar or two left on the card, and tempted to just throw it away. Before going that route, try using your Visa gift card at a convenience store, grocery store or at most other brick-and-mortar businesses.
Opportunities With Merchants
Many merchants will allow you to split your payment between two sources. If you have an available balance of $3.00 on your card, and your total purchase amount is $8.45, you can ask the cashier if you’re able to split payments. Usually, this is no problem. You will likely be asked for the amount you’d like to put on the card. Tell the cashier the exact amount remaining on your card, and pay the remainder of the bill with cash or another method of payment, such as another gift card. You typically can check your remaining balance online or over the phone.
While this seems like an extra step, it might be one of your only options to get the last bit of money off your Visa gift card. You also can use your Visa gift card balance to purchase an Amazon e-gift card, which can then be redeemed on Amazon.com.
Tara Thomas is a Los Angeles-based writer and avid world traveler. Her articles appear in various online publications, including Sapling, PocketSense, Zacks, Livestrong, Modern Mom and SF Gate. Thomas has a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach and spent 10 years as a mortgage consultant.