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

By Jacqueline DeMarco · March 13, 2024 · 6 minute read

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

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. However, you can usually go ahead and swipe or tap to get one of these cards, which can be a convenient and useful present.

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. You can purchase one and load it with a certain amount of funds or many come preloaded in different denominations. These can be a convenient way to give a gift to anyone from your nephew to your dog walker.

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.

Types of Gift Cards

There are two main types of gift cards that consumers will come across:

•   Retail or store-specific gift cards

•   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 or cafe chain, 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, Visa, 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: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

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.

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 can add up quickly.

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. You may be charged a higher interest rate, which can contribute to credit card debt.

If the card issuer does count the purchase of gift cards as a cash advance, then it can be wise 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 when you’re in a bind, know this: Your credit card’s cash advance limit may be different than your average credit card limit.

The Takeaway

It is often possible to buy gift cards with a credit card, and you may even earn rewards for doing so. However, it’s a good idea to learn the details before you buy as you might be charged as if you are accessing a cash advance. That can mean a higher APR assessed, and you may have a different limit, too. These are important points to know to make sure you are using your credit card responsibly.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

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, many credit card issuers don’t consider gift card purchases eligible for earning rewards (they deem them cash equivalents and ineligible). Double check the cardholder agreement for a specific card for details.

How can you avoid gift card scams?

Only buy 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.


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.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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.

Photo credit: iStock/Tingting Ji
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