How to Use the Last Few Dollars With a Prepaid Gift Card

Last Christmas I got a $ 50 Visa gift card and spent exactly $ 48 on four pairs of new socks (because now I’m the adult who wants socks for Christmas).

Then I had to decide what to do with the remaining 2 dollars on the card. Should I carry this gift card in my wallet for the next six months, hoping for the day when I need to buy a bottle of water or a pack of chewing gum? Should I just discard the card and consider myself lucky that I used 96% of its total value?

The peculiarity of these prepaid gift cards is that they are not very useful for online shopping. If I added a fifth pair of toe socks to my shopping cart, the total would exceed $ 50 and I would not be able to use my Visa gift card to make a purchase.

Why? Because online retailers do not treat such gift cards as “gift cards,” they prevent you from paying part of your amount with a Visa prepaid gift card and part with a credit or debit card. If you want to use a prepaid Visa card (or a prepaid MasterCard or any other type of prepaid card), you must be prepared to complete a full card purchase.

And I have 2 dollars left. What was I to do about it?

Here’s what I did: I bought a $ 2 online gift card from Amazon.

I got this idea from Rachel Miller’s blog Just Good Shit , in which she describes her “little trick for using every last cent on a Visa / Amex prepaid gift card”:

After receiving an expensive prepaid Visa gift card last year and I got tired of constantly checking balances, I came up with a really simple and easy workaround that allows you to actually use every penny on the specified card: once the gift card runs out of a stupidly small amount that you can’t want to get contacted, you can just go to Amazon and buy yourself an e-gift card for the exact amount shown on your Visa gift card. So if there is $ 7.83 on your Visa card, you can just buy yourself an Amazon gift card for $ 7.83.

I tried it myself and Miller was right: you can buy an Amazon e-gift card for just about any amount, be it $ 7.83 or, in my case, $ 2. Then all you have to do is use your prepaid card to pay – and this is the hardest part of the whole process, because your Amazon muscle memory will prompt you to click or click Buy Now (which will charge your gift card to your default payment method ) instead of “add to cart” (which will allow you to enter a new payment method, ie your prepaid card).

This trick is so useful that Lifehacker’s David Murphy suggests turning your prepaid gift cards into Amazon gift cards even before you start spending.

However, I’m glad I didn’t bother converting my $ 50 Visa card into an Amazon gift card, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to spend $ 48 at Injinji. But putting the remaining $ 2 on my next Amazon purchase is fine with me – and I would suggest that you do the same the next time you have a few dollars left on one of these prepaid cards.


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