Using Up the Balance on Gift Cards?

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When a gift card has a small remaining balance, it can be a challenge to figure how best to use it without spending more money. This is a page about using up the balance on gift cards.


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December 10, 2011

I have several gift cards (Visa) that have small balances remaining on them ($3, $2, etc). They still appear to be active, so I was wondering where I can use them? We tried at our local Wal Mart and the cashier couldn't get them to work at all. It will work at Tim Horton's but I'm not really looking to use all that money for eating out! Anyone have any suggestions?

By Kelly


December 11, 20110 found this helpful

I'd go to your bank and see if they can cash them for you or if not, I bet they have an answer as to where you can use them. My bankers are so helpful anytime I have a questions like this. I use Wells Fargo in Chanhassen, MN, which is a small town (next to suburban Minneapolis) and this bank feels like a small town bank, since everyone greets you by name when you walk in.


They are one of the few banks around who don't have a drive-up, so you can tell how small they are, If your bank can't help you, I'd call the credit card company and ask them.

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December 11, 20110 found this helpful

Can't you add money to them? I always keep a WalMart gift card on hand, for if I want to order something off their website. When I spend off it, I just keep adding to it. However, there was one time when I had something like $3-4.00 left on it and wanted to add something like $30.00-40.00 to it and the card wouldn't accept that amount, so I just bought a new gift card for that amount and the next time I ordered online, I used the amount on the old card and then used the new one for the balance of the order.


I wonder if sometimes they wear out.

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December 12, 20110 found this helpful

Call the card company or go online and get the exact amount for each card. Attach a sticky note to the card with the amount. When you go to your store - usually grocery, Wal-Mart, whatever, ask to run the card for that exact amount. It will clear out the card and show what you owe on the balance of your purchase. Continue with all cards until they're cleared out. And then pay any remaining difference. You will probably want to tell the cashier that you're clearing out all your cards. They are usually very understanding and helpful. Hope this helps.

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December 12, 20110 found this helpful

I am with Noella on this one. Not all stores are set up to be able to do this though and/or the cashier doesn't know how to but it's worth trying.


Worse comes to worse what you can do (after having your sticky notes with the right amount remaining for each card) is to give the cashier the exact amount of cash and change difference and then run the card.

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