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Kaite just got a $100 Visa gift card for a graduation present. While she’s appreciative of the gift, she’d much rather have cash than a prepaid plastic card.
This is a common issue that Visa gift card holders often face. Fortunately, when it comes to converting your reloadable Visa gift card to cash, there are plenty of options.
Keep reading to learn how to liquidate a Visa gift card and change it to cold, hard cash.
How to Convert a Visa Gift Card to Cash
Here’s how to convert a Visa gift card to cash.
- Vist an ATM
- Use your prepaid card like cash
- Sell your card
- Buy money orders
- Buy and flip products
- Add money to your PayPal or Venmo account
- Sell your card to someone you know
- Invest the money
- Re-gift the card
1. Visit an ATM
The fastest way to liquidate a Visa gift card is to visit an ATM. Simply visit an accredited ATM and deposit the card into the machine to make a cash transaction.
Yes, you may have to pay fees this way. But you’ll walk away with cash that you can use anywhere that cash is accepted. You won’t have to wait several business days for the money to clear.
2. Use your prepaid card like cash
You don’t need to liquidate a Visa gift card to use it for everyday transactions. For example, you can use this card to pay bills like utilities, food, and housing costs. Simply enter the information when making a payment and the items will be deducted from your Visa gift card balance.
You can also use it at stores like Walmart, Home Depot, and your local supermarket.
3. Sell your card
Want to get rid of your card altogether? Visit sites like Prepaid2Cash and CardCash to liquidate prepaid cards. These sites can transform prepaid cards from Visa, MasterCard gift cards, and cards from other leading merchants like Best Buy, Nike, and Target, to name just a few examples.
You might also want to look into doing the same on Craigslist. If you choose to go in this direction, be on the lookout for scams.
Selling your card online is a great option if someone gifts you a card from a retailer that you don’t like or never would typically go to. For example, someone may give you a gift card to a sporting goods store even though you haven’t played basketball in ten years.
In that instance, you might be best off liquidating the card, taking the money, and putting it towards something you actually want.
4. Buy money orders
Another way to convert Visa gift cards to cash is to buy a money order. Simply visit the post office or banking kiosk, purchase a money order, and then deposit that into your checking account or use it to pay for a certain item.
Of course, to do this you’ll need a bank account from a financial institution. Just be careful not to do too many of these transactions or the bank may get suspicious and shut down your account.
5. Buy and flip products
Some consumers like to get creative when using Visa gift cards, flipping products to generate cash.
For example, you could buy low-cost items online with a gift card and sell them on sites like eBay and Amazon to make a few bucks.
This approach is time-consuming and somewhat risky as you may not make your money back in full. However, if you play your cards right, you could earn back more than your original amount.
6. Add money to your PayPal or Venmo account
Some people also convert Visa cards to PayPal wallets or Venmo wallets for flexible online usage.
Transferring money to a digital wallet can provide greater flexibility when making online transactions. Just watch out for transaction fees when moving money out of your PayPal account and into your bank account.
7. Sell your card to someone you know
Suppose you’re out with a friend and really need cash. You could offer to sell the card to a friend straight up or for a slight discount.
If you have already used the card, make sure to check the latest gift card balance so that you trade the card for an accurate amount. The last thing you want to do is offer a $50 card only to have $30 or less remaining. That’s an easy way to lose a friend.
8. Invest the money
Perhaps the smartest thing you can do is to link the card to a brokerage account and invest the money. For example, $100 could buy you a few stocks, bonds, or funds. If you invest the money wisely, you could grow the original sum into a much greater amount over time.
This is an excellent option for someone who doesn’t need the money right away and would rather put it toward long-term use.
One savvy method is to take an old gift card you’re never going to use, liquidate it, and then transfer the money directly into an investment account.
9. Re-gift the card
There’s nothing worse than rushing around last-minute to get to a party or wedding and not having a gift to bring.
Keep your Visa gift card in a back drawer and use it for the next gift-giving occasion — like a wedding, birthday, or holiday. You’ll be glad you saved it when the opportunity presents itself. You’ll avoid a trip to the ATM, making the gift card even better than having cash.
How to Use a Visa Gift Card
Here’s how to use a Visa gift card.
Decide if you want the card
The first thing to do is decide if you want to keep the card or liquidate it for cash. Visa cards can come in handy in certain circumstances, but some prefer to ditch them for cash assets.
Activate the card
Should you decide to keep the card, activate it by following the instructions on the back of your card. Either call the number listed or go online and activate it that way. Pro tip: The card won’t work until you activate it.
You shouldn’t get charged for the activation fee as a cardholder unless you buy the card for yourself. This is usually charged to the gift card buyer (assuming there is a fee).
Write down the starting balance
It’s a good idea to write down the starting balance of the card so you have an idea of how much you’re working with before using it.
This is important because you don’t want to get into a situation where the card gets declined by charging too much to it.
For example, you may be in a rush to buy a train ticket or out to eat at a restaurant. Always know the approximate balance of the card so that you can budget accordingly — and avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.
Use the gift card like cash
You should treat the Visa gift card like cash. Keep the card in your wallet and use it to buy anything — from food to accessories. You can use it for a one-time purchase or as an ongoing debit card until the funds are depleted. It’s a flexible and convenient way to purchase items while you’re out and about.
Squeeze out every last drop
Chances are, you’ll have a small balance of less than $5 when the card reaches the end of its lifecycle. When the card gets down to the last few remaining dollars, simply ask the merchant to deduct that balance from your bill and put the remainder on another card. You could also bring the card to a gift card exchange kiosk and redeem the remaining amount for cash.
Pro tip: An easy way to make sure you use your entire gift card is by ringing up a transaction that exceeds the total value of your card. For example, if you have a $100 gift card, go to the grocery store, and rack up a $125 bill, you can use your entire gift card balance while charging the other $25 to a different card.
The Pros and Cons of Visa Gift Cards
Here are the pros and cons of Visa gift cards.
One of the nice parts about having a Visa gift card is that it can be used like cash in most places. Whether you’re going out to a restaurant or shopping at an online retailer, you can use a gift card to make everyday purchases.
Great for budgeting
Visa gift cards are useful for money management purposes, helping save money. For example, you may put $500 on a Visa gift card and use that for your monthly groceries so that you don’t go over budget.
This is an excellent option for people who tend to spend too much and need to cut back on expenses.
Flexible time limit
Most Visa gift cards have generous expiration dates, enabling cardholders to keep them for years. As such, there is no immediate rush to use them.
Visa gift cards come with transaction fees that vary depending on how much value the card contains. The card also comes with an activation fee, based on the dollar amount of the card. This reduces the card’s overall value, which can be inconvenient.
Not all merchants take cards
Merchants don’t always accept Visa gift cards. For example, many street food vendors or merchants are cash-only, which can be inconvenient. It’s always a good idea to keep cash on hand so that you can pay for cash-only services when they’re required.
Can get lost or stolen
Keep in mind that gift cards don’t typically come with insurance or protection. Using a Visa card is a bit like carrying cash. If it gets lost or stolen, you won’t get the money back.
It’s not like having a debit card – which comes with robust customer support and account management options.
Perhaps the biggest drawback is that gift cards don’t accrue interest. So if you have $100 sitting on a card for a long time, it won’t increase in value. In fact, you may lose money due to inflation.
When it boils down to it, it’s much more profitable to take the cash out and put the money into an interest-bearing account – unless you use all the funds quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about converting a Visa gift card to cash.
Can I use a Visa gift card to pay credit card debt?
Using a Visa gift card can be a great and savvy way to pay down credit card debt. Let someone give you the gift of lower interest payments and debt-free living. Simply link your prepaid card to your credit card and pay whatever you wish from the remaining balance.
This may not be the most fun way to use your gift card, but you’ll thank yourself later.
Can you buy an item and then return it for cash?
This idea is borderline unethical at best and possibly illegal in some places. However, it is technically possible.
The better approach if you want to go this route is to buy an item and then flip it for cash on a site like Amazon or eBay. That way, you’re not harming the retailer or creating any conflict that could come back to bite you.
What is a Vanilla Visa gift card?
The Vanilla Visa gift card is a prepaid Visa card that enables users to load money and use it for in-store or online purchases at retailers and grocery stores.
The Bottom Line
Whether you received a gift card from a family member or from a cashback site such as Swagbucks, you don’t have to spend it. Instead, you can sell gift cards, exchange them, or use them to buy items and sell them to make money.
At the end of the day, you have options. With a bit of creativity, you can trade them in for face value and collect cash.
Remember: The road to financial independence is long and hard. It’s important to have some fun once in a while to remind yourself of what you’re working toward. On the flip side, if you act too rigidly towards money, you might just wind up unhappy in the long run.
Here’s to making the most out of the next Visa gift card.