Visa or Mastercard Gift Cards—Which Are Better?
Visa or Mastercard Gift Cards—The Main Differences Explained
Prepaid gift cards are perfect for indecisive shoppers who want to save up, but how do you know which one will work best for you? When it comes to Visa or Mastercard gift cards, is there a clear difference?
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Visa vs. Mastercard Gift Cards
You can even use the gift cards to pay for gas, depending on the merchant. Note that both Visa and Mastercard advise users to pay inside the gas station instead of swiping at the pump to avoid causing a delay.
Visa and Mastercard gift cards provide flexibility to budget-conscious shoppers, but there are certain limitations. Most notably, both cards:
- Have an expiration date—While your funds can’t expire, these cards are only valid for five years on average
- Come with additional fees—Besides the purchase fee, you’re required to pay:
- Activation fee
- Inactivity fee
- Can’t be reloaded—Unlike regular prepaid cards, you can only load a gift card once with a fixed or variable denomination, ranging from $10 to $500
- Must be registered—Merchants may not accept unregistered prepaid gift cards for safety reasons
- Can’t be used for cash withdrawal or recurring billing—You can’t use your card at an ATM or to pay for a subscription
What Are the Fees for Prepaid Visa and Mastercard Gift Cards?
Neither Visa nor Mastercard gift cards come with usage fees, but there are a few expenses you can anticipate. Besides the initial purchase, you’ll also have to cover the card activation cost.
The price can vary depending on the card’s value, but Visa and Mastercard charge the same fees:
Type of Fee
Keep in mind there’s also an inactivity fee in the amount of $2.95 per month for users who neglect their cards. The rule only applies to Mastercard or Visa gift cards that haven’t been used in 12 consecutive months.
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Why Do Visa and Mastercard Gift Cards Have To Be Registered?
You need to verify your personal data, i.e., name, billing address, and email, to be able to make an online purchase and place a phone or mail order. Apart from the fact that unregistered Visa or Mastercard gift cards will be declined by most merchants, registration can also help you if your gift card is ever lost or stolen.
In case you notice your gift card is gone, report the incident to the respective card company immediately. Follow these steps to complete the process:
How To File a Report
Mastercard gift card
Contact Mastercard at 1-833-623-4266 to notify them of the missing card. The company representative will ask you for the 16-digit card ID number and Security Code
Visa gift card
In case you lose your Visa gift card, you have three options:
Where Are Visa and Mastercard Gift Cards Accepted?
Visa and Mastercard gift cards are pretty much universally accepted. You’ll be able to redeem your card in any establishment, venue, or merchant location that takes credit or debit cards from the respective companies.
Prepaid Visa and Mastercard gift cards are valid in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. You can’t redeem your card on international websites or outside the country. If you need a cash alternative for your upcoming trip, get a prepaid Mastercard Travel Card or a Visa Travel Money Card instead.
Where To Buy Visa and Mastercard Gift Cards
Prepaid Visa and Mastercard gift cards can be issued:
- Online—You can purchase a prepaid gift card via the official Mastercard or Visa website. There are other authorized online sellers, such as Amazon
- In-store—Most major retail chains, drugstores, and gas stations sell prepaid gift cards, so you can get Visa or Mastercard gift cards at:
- Sam’s Club
- Rite Aid Pharmacy
- CVS Pharmacy
- Dollar General
- Office Depot
- By banks—Some banks, such as TD Bank, U.S. Bank, and Bank of America, issue prepaid gift cards
Typically, plastic cards are sold on the location, but you can order them on the official Visa and Mastercard websites. The difference is that plastic cards take longer to arrive since they’re delivered via mail.
To buy a Mastercard gift card online, follow these steps:
- Visit the Mastercard Gift Card page
- Choose a design you like
- Select the occasion for the gift card (e.g., birthday, wedding, etc.)
- Set a delivery type (mail or email)
- Put in the desired value (from $10 to $500)
- Write a personal message if the card is meant as a gift
- Add the gift card to your cart
When it comes to Visa gift cards, the process is quite similar. You can check out the selection on the official Visa Gift Card website and choose between plastic or digital cards. The amount you can load ranges from $10 to $250. Visa gift cards are also customizable, with over 200 designs available.
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Prepaid gift cards give you an opportunity to cut down on your spending, particularly when it comes to day-to-day expenses. If you sidestep the initial fees and use your card wisely, you can save quite a bit of cash.
There are several methods you can try to get a free prepaid Mastercard or Visa gift card, such as:
- Giveaways and promotions—Large retail chains, like Walmart, organize sweepstakes and in-store promotions that allow you to win free gift cards. All contestants must be legal residents within the 50 U.S. states and above the age of majority
- Gift card apps—With gift card apps, you collect redeemable points by completing online surveys, watching ads, and doing similar activities. In return, you can claim a cash prize, such as retail gift cards (for in-store and online purchases) and prepaid gift cards
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Camera and screen
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Featured image source: Giovanni Gagliardi