How to Find the PIN Number on a Gift Card

••• Hero Images/Hero Images/GettyImages

So you have a brand new gift card. Congratulations! You're ready to start spending, but for some reason the retailer is asking for a PIN. The PIN, or personal identification number, is typically located on the back of a physical card or in the same email that discloses the electronic gift card number. Although the PIN can't be used to retrieve money from a gift card at an ATM like a debit card, cardholders must present the PIN to check the card balance or get a replacement card.

Visa and Mastercard Gift Cards

Since 2013, Visa and Mastercard gift cards began utilizing PIN numbers. These numbers are not located on the card. Instead, customers must call the number on the back of the card to use the automated system to enter the card's 16-digit card number. Next, you'll need to input the card's expiration date and three-digit security code, which is located on the back of the card. The system will then allow you to select your own four-digit PIN code.

PIN by Another Name

American Express gift cards do not come with numbers identified as a PIN. Instead, they come with a four-digit number American Express calls a Card Security Code. The CID is on the card front directly above the 15 digit card number. Discover gift cards use a three digit number it calls the Customer Identification Number, which is located on the back of the card.

Tips

  • As of April 30, 2015, Discover no longer issues Discover gift cards, but gift cards issued prior can still be used at locations that accept Discover cards.

Store Cards

Gift cards issued by department stores typically have a PIN. It is usually found on the back of the card underneath an area that must be scratched off to view. For example, this is where you can find the PIN for Aeropostale, REI, Sephora and Ulta gift cards. This scratch-off area helps prevent the number from being stolen before the card is authorized. Some Walmart gift cards come with PINs, however, if you want to use a gift card without a pin, you'll only be able to use them in the store and not online, since Walmart.com requires a PIN as an additional security measure.

E-Gift Cards

If an electronic gift card comes with a PIN, it's listed in the email with the card number. If the retailer allows cardholders to choose their own PIN, the instructions to do it are in the email and on the retailer's website. Choosing a PIN can usually be done online or over the phone.