How to Use a MasterCard Gift Card

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A prepaid MasterCard gift card is a convenient gift option for the difficult-to-shop-for friend. Although the gift card funds can be spent like cash, the purchase of a gift card has the presentation of a physical gift instead of transfer of cash from one wallet to another. A MasterCard gift card can be used at many locations, unlike a store-specific gift card that is good at only one location. Using a MasterCard gift card is similar to using a credit or debit card.

Activating and Using Your Card

Locate the toll-free phone number on the back of the gift card. Call to activate the card. This generally requires entering the gift card number using the buttons on your phone. The card is ready to use following activation.

Use your gift card as payment anywhere that MasterCard is accepted. Tell the cashier that gift card is the form of payment before he swipes the card. If self-swiping the card, press the gift card button. "Gift card" should also be chosen as the payment method for online purchases.

Continue purchasing until you exhaust the prepaid gift card balance. When the balance is not sufficient to complete a purchase, the amount remaining on the gift card will go toward the purchase and leave an outstanding balance to be paid with another method.

Buying a MasterCard Gift Card

You can purchase a MasterCard gift card online from a website like GiftCards.com. In many cases, you can customize your card by uploading a photo or choosing a specific gift card design. You can add a dollar amount ranging from $10 to $500. Finally, you'll enter the recipient's name, along with an optional personal message that will be shown on the front of the card. MasterCard gift cards can be used everywhere MasterCard is accepted.

Other locations where you can buy a MasterCard gift card include gas stations and convenience stores, grocery stores, drug stores and shopping malls. However, you're less likely to be able to buy a customized card from one of these locations.

Tips

  • Check your gift card balance by calling the phone number listed on the back of the card.

    If you are asked for a PIN number when making a purchase, the cashier likely entered the transaction as "debit" instead of "gift card." Cancel the transaction and ask him to swipe the card again as a gift card.

Warnings

  • In most cases, MasterCard gift cards do not expire. However, you may accrue a fee of $4.95 after 12 months of inactivity.