How to Find the PIN Number on a Gift Card

by Mary Jane Freeman ; Updated November 17, 2018
How to Find the PIN Number on a Gift Card

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 3-digit security code, which is located on the back of the card. The system will then allow you to select your own 4-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.

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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.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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