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Can You Buy Gift Cards With a Credit Card? Everything You Need to Know

By Jacqueline DeMarco · May 24, 2022 · 5 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Can You Buy Gift Cards With a Credit Card? Everything You Need to Know

Whether you’re picking one up for that hard-to-shop-for family member or as a thank you gift for a friend, you may have wondered, ‘Can you buy gift cards with a credit card?’ In general, it is possible to buy a gift card with a credit card. There are some instances where you might not be able to though, namely at some specific stores that may limit or ban the purchase of gift cards with a credit card due to fraud concerns.

Read on to learn more about when you can buy a gift card with a credit card and how it works.

What Are Gift Cards?

A gift card looks and functions similarly to a credit card, but instead it is a prepaid debit card that someone can purchase and load with a certain amount of funds.

Some gift cards can be used at just a specific retailer, like an Amazon or Target gift card. Others can be used at a variety of retailers, such as a Visa gift card that’s designed to be spent almost anywhere.

You can buy gift cards in store or online. Gift cards are activated at purchase so they can be used right away without any further steps necessary. Just like there are credit card expiration dates, gift cards can expire if they’re not used within a certain timeframe.

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Types of Gift Cards

There are two main types of gift cards that consumers will come across: Retail or store-specific gift cards and more generic gift cards. This is how these two types of gift cards work.

Retail or Store Specific Gift Cards

Retail or store-specific gift cards can only be used at select (if not just one) retailer. So, for instance, if you buy a gift card for a particular restaurant, the funds are only spendable at that restaurant, not anywhere else. This type of gift card is also known as a closed-loop gift card.

Generic Gift Cards

Generic, or open-loop, gift cards can be used at a variety of retailers as long as they accept credit card payments from that specific payment card network. This type of gift card is offered by most major credit card networks, such as American Express and MasterCard.

These cards are often reloadable, though there may be a fee to do so. Open-loop gift cards also often charge an activation fee when the card is purchased.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Can You Buy Gift Cards With a Credit Card?

Generally, it’s possible to buy a gift card with a credit card. Of course, whether you can do so will depend on whether the retailer allows credit card purchases and accepts payment from the consumer’s specific credit card network.

Some retailers may not allow you to buy a gift card with a credit card, or they may place limits on purchases. This is because of fraud concerns, as the purchase of gift cards with stolen or counterfeit credit cards is common. These limitations generally apply to store-specific gift cards.

Recommended: What Is a Credit Card Chargeback

Things to Watch Out for When Buying Gift Cards With a Credit Card

Plenty of people buy gift cards with a credit card, especially when buying gift cards online. Even though it’s possible to buy a gift card with a credit card, there are some things worth looking out for when making this kind of purchase.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Can You Get Rewards for Purchasing Gift Cards With a Credit Card?

While some credit card issuers make it possible to earn rewards like cash back and miles when purchasing a gift card, other issuers don’t reward these purchases at all. For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express does not consider gift cards an eligible purchase for rewards. This may be something to keep in mind when applying for a credit card if you plan to purchase gift cards often.

To find out if you’ll earn rewards for buying a gift card with a credit card, check your credit card issuer’s terms for more details on how your credit card works.

Does Making a Gift Card Purchase Count as a Cash Advance?

Buying a gift card with a credit card can potentially cost consumers more than they realize. This is because some credit card issuers may view buying a gift card as taking a cash advance, particularly for open-loop cards.

Why is that a bad thing? Credit card issuers charge interest and fees on cash advances, which is when a credit card allows the cardholder to borrow a set amount of cash as an advance. Plus, interest starts accruing immediately on cash advances, with no grace period offered. Usually, interest only begins accruing if you make only the credit card minimum payment rather than paying off your balance in full.

Also note that the APR of a cash advance also can be higher than the purchase APR on a credit card (and it might not necessarily be a good APR for a credit card).

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

How to Avoid Cash Advances When Buying Gift Cards With Your Credit Card

Most people don’t realize that a gift card purchase with a credit card can count as a cash advance. Before buying a gift card with a credit card, it’s a good idea to double check what a credit card issuer’s policies are surrounding gift card purchases.

If the card issuer does count the purchase of gift cards as cash advances, then opt to buy a gift card with cash or another card whenever possible. And if you do end up needing to buy a gift card with that credit card in a bind, know that your credit card’s cash advance limit may be different than your average credit card limit.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Consider the SoFi Credit Card

As for whether you can buy gift cards with a credit card, the answer is generally yes. There may be some specific stores that limit or ban the purchase of gift cards with a credit card due to fraud concerns. Additionally, note that some card issuers may count it as a cash advance if you buy a gift card with a credit card.

That’s why when it comes to choosing a credit card, it’s important to know what you want and what you plan to use your card for. If your priority is earning rewards, for instance, the SoFi credit card might be worth a look. SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1

Looking for a new credit card? Check out what the SoFi Credit Card has to offer.

FAQ

Do credit card providers issue rewards for gift card purchases?

It’s possible with some credit cards to earn rewards points when purchasing a gift card. However, some credit card issuers don’t consider gift card purchases eligible for earning rewards. Double check the cardholder agreement for a specific card to see if it’s possible to earn rewards when buying a gift card with that credit card.

How can you avoid gift card scams?

The Federal Trade Commission recommends only buying gift cards from trusted retailers to help protect against gift cards scams. Avoid purchasing gift cards from online auction sites that offer discounts, as the gift cards they sell may be stolen or fake. It’s also a good idea to check for protective stickers on a gift card before buying it and to confirm that the gift card’s pin number isn’t showing. If you do spot an issue, get a different gift card.

Can you put money on a gift card with a credit card?

Yes, it is possible to add money to a gift card by using a credit card. It’s up to consumers to choose how much they want to add to a gift card. Retailers can offer gift cards that come in pre-set amounts like $50 or $100, or they may allow customers to add a custom amount to their gift card.


1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1

Photo credit: iStock/Tingting Ji
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