3 min read

Can you buy a gift card with a credit card?

Written By

Clay Shiffman

Yes, you can typically buy a gift card with a credit card. The convenience allows consumers to utilize their preferred method of payment to buy gift cards for various occasions, like as a gift for friends and family.

However, it's imperative to exercise caution and diligence when navigating this transaction. While most establishments readily accept credit card payments for gift card purchases, it's wise to verify the specific policies of the intended merchant beforehand.

Moreover, individuals should be mindful of potential repercussions, as certain credit card issuers may categorize gift card acquisitions as cash advances. Purchasing gift cards with your credit card could potentially trigger supplementary fees or heightened interest rates.

Understanding your credit card's terms and conditions is essential to ensure you don't face consequences with this transaction. We help you explore how and where you can use your credit card to buy gift cards, the types of gift cards available, the pros and cons of doing so, and some considerations before swiping your credit card to buy one.

How to buy gift cards with a credit card

Buying gift cards with a credit card is a straightforward process:

  1. Choose a retailer: Decide on the type of gift card you want to purchase and select a retailer that offers it. Most retail shops sell gift cards, such as a specific store, restaurant, or general-purpose gift card.

  2. Visit the store or website: Visit the physical store location or go to the retailer's website to purchase gift cards online.

  3. Select the gift card: Choose the gift card you want to buy. You may have options for different amounts or designs depending on the retailer.

  4. Proceed to checkout: Add the gift card to your cart and proceed to checkout. If you're in-store, take the gift card to the checkout counter.

  5. Payment: At the checkout stage, select credit card as your payment method. Provide your credit card details, including the card number, expiration date, and security code.

  6. Complete the transaction: Follow the instructions to complete the transaction. It may involve confirming your billing and shipping details when purchasing online.

  7. Check for fees and terms: Be aware of any fees associated with purchasing the gift card with a credit card. Some retailers may charge a small fee, and it's essential to understand the terms and conditions of the gift card, including any expiration dates or usage restrictions.

  8. Receive confirmation: You'll receive a confirmation email or receipt. Keep this for your records, especially if you need to reference it in case of any issues with the gift card.

By following these steps, you can easily purchase gift cards using your credit card, whether you're buying them for yourself or as gifts for others.

Where can you buy a gift card with a credit card?

Many retail, grocery, and convenience stores sell several gift cards to different brands. You can buy gift cards with a credit card at various online and in-person locations, including:

  1. Retail stores: Many retail stores, such as grocery stores, department stores, and specialty shops, sell gift cards and accept credit card payments.

  2. Restaurants: Numerous restaurants offer gift cards for purchase, either at their physical locations or through their websites, and most accept credit cards as payment.

  3. Online retailers: Major online retailers offer a wide range of gift cards, and you can use a credit card to buy them online.

  4. Gift card malls: Some malls or shopping centers have kiosks or stores dedicated to selling various gift cards for different retailers, and they typically accept credit card payments.

  5. Gas stations and convenience stores: Many gas stations and convenience stores sell gift cards for various retailers and accept credit cards for payment.

  6. Banks and financial institutions: Some banks and credit unions offer gift cards for purchase, either in-person at branch locations or through their online banking platforms, where you can use a credit card to buy them.

  7. Online gift card exchanges: Websites that specialize in buying and selling gift cards often accept credit card payments for purchasing gift cards from their platforms.

Before purchasing a gift card with a credit card, it's a good idea to check the specific policies and fees associated with the retailer or platform you plan to use. Additionally, be aware of any potential cash advance fees or higher interest rates that may apply. You can check the terms and conditions in the fine print of your credit card agreement.

Types of gift cards

There are various types of gift cards available, catering to different preferences and needs. Here are some common types:

  1. Retail gift cards: These gift cards are specific to particular retail stores, allowing recipients to make purchases at those stores. Examples include gift cards for clothing stores, electronics retailers, or home improvement stores.

  2. Restaurant gift cards: Restaurant gift cards allow recipients to dine out or order food from specific restaurants. They may be for a specific restaurant chain or a group of restaurants owned by the same company.

  3. General-purpose gift cards: These gift cards, often branded with major credit card logos like Visa, Mastercard, or American Express, can be used at multiple retailers and locations where credit cards are accepted. They provide recipients with flexibility in choosing where to shop or dine.

  4. Entertainment gift cards: Entertainment gift cards may offer access to various forms of entertainment, such as movie theaters, streaming services, or online gaming platforms.

  5. Travel gift cards: These gift cards can be used for travel-related expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars, or vacation packages. Airlines, hotel chains, or travel booking platforms often offer travel gift cards.

  6. Experience gift cards: Experience gift cards provide recipients with opportunities to enjoy specific activities or experiences, such as spa treatments, cooking classes, adventure tours, or concert tickets.

  7. Digital gift cards: Digital or e-gift cards are sent electronically via email or mobile app, allowing for quick and convenient delivery. They can be for various retailers, restaurants, or online services.

  8. Prepaid gift cards: Prepaid gift cards have a specific monetary value loaded onto them in advance, and recipients can use them until the balance is depleted. They are similar to general-purpose gift cards but may be restricted to certain retailers or locations.

Each type offers unique benefits and flexibility, allowing gift-givers to choose the most suitable option for their recipients.

Advantages of using a credit card to purchase gift cards

Gift cards purchased with a credit card can offer several advantages.

Convenience

Credit cards provide a payment method for purchasing gift cards, whether you're shopping in-store or online. You can quickly complete transactions without the need for cash and checks.

Rewards points

Just like how you can earn interest in a savings account, many credit card companies offer rewards programs that allow you to save money by earning points, miles, or cash back on purchases. By using your credit card to buy gift cards, you can earn rewards that can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, statement credits, and other benefits.

Protection

Credit cards often have built-in protection, such as fraud liability and purchase protection. If your credit card information is stolen or there's an issue with the gift card purchase, you may have recourse to dispute the charges and seek a refund. It gives you extra peace of mind.

Budgeting flexibility

Using a credit card for gift card purchases can provide flexibility in managing your budget. You can spread out your gift-giving expenses over time and take advantage of any promotional financing offers or grace periods offered by your credit card issuer.

Build credit

By using your credit card responsibly, including regular purchases and timely payments, you can build a positive credit history and improve your credit score over time. Buying gift cards with a credit card can help you build credit, as long as you pay off the balance promptly. A good credit score unlocks many financial opportunities in the future.

Bonus categories

Some rewards credit cards provide more points or higher cash back rates on certain categories. You can take advantage of these discounts by buying gift cards at retailers that fit the category description. These eligible purchases maximize your savings when using your credit card.

Track spending

Credit card statements provide detailed records of your transactions, making it easy to track your spending on gift cards. It can be helpful for budgeting and keeping tabs on your gift-giving expenses throughout the year.

Promotions

Many credit card companies offer shopping portals or promotional discounts when you use the card at specified retailers within a certain period. You may see a promotion for a merchant you typically shop with. You can buy a gift card with that merchant using your credit card to take advantage of that promotion and use the gift card for future purchases at the store.

Drawbacks of using a credit card to buy gift cards

While using a credit card to purchase gift cards offers convenience and potential rewards, there are also drawbacks to consider:

  1. Interest charges: If you don't pay off the balance on your credit card in full by the due date, you incur interest charges on the amount you borrowed. It can add to the cost of purchasing gift cards, especially if you carry a balance from month to month. Understand how your credit card provider calculates credit card interest and ensure you avoid accumulating a balance on your card.

  2. Cash advance fees: Some credit card issuers may classify gift card purchases as cash advances rather than regular purchases. Cash advances often come with higher fees and interest rates, making them more expensive than typical credit card transactions.

  3. No introductory offers: Credit card companies often offer introductory bonuses, such as 0% APR or bonus rewards, for new cardholders. However, these offers may not apply to gift card purchases, limiting your ability to take advantage of such promotions.

  4. Limited acceptance: While most retailers and businesses accept credit cards for gift card purchases, there may be exceptions. Some small businesses or independent retailers may only accept cash or debit cards, restricting your options for purchasing gift cards with a credit card.

  5. Risk of overspending: Using a credit card can make it easier to overspend, especially when purchasing gift cards for multiple people. It's essential to stick to your budget and avoid accumulating debt that you may struggle to repay later. If you reach your credit limit on gift cards, your credit card can be declined for future purchases in the current billing cycle.

  6. Potential for fraud: Credit card transactions, including gift card purchases, are susceptible to fraud and unauthorized charges. If your credit card information is compromised, you may face the hassle of disputing fraudulent transactions and potentially having your card canceled or reissued.

  7. Gift card restrictions: Some retailers may impose restrictions or limitations on using gift cards purchased with a credit card. For example, they may not allow you to buy certain types of gift cards or may limit the amount you can purchase in a single transaction.

Weigh the pros and cons of using a credit card to buy gift cards before proceeding with the transaction. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement and understand any fees or restrictions that may apply to gift card purchases. Additionally, use credit responsibly and avoid spending more than you can afford to pay off in full each month.

Does purchasing a gift card count as a cash advance?

Whether purchasing a gift card with a credit card counts as a cash advance depends on the policies of the credit card issuer and the specific circumstances of the transaction. In most cases, purchasing a gift card with a credit card is treated as a regular purchase, not a cash advance.

However, there are exceptions. Some credit card issuers may classify certain transactions, including gift card purchases, as cash advances if they deem them to be cash equivalents. This classification can depend on factors such as where the gift card is purchased, the merchant category code (MCC) associated with the transaction, and the issuer's policies.

Cash advances typically incur additional fees and may be subject to higher interest rates than regular purchases. It's essential to review your credit card agreement and contact your credit card issuer if you have any questions about how gift card purchases are categorized or if you're concerned about potential cash advance fees.

In general, most gift card purchases made with a credit card are treated as regular purchases, but it's always a good idea to confirm with your credit card issuer to understand how they handle these transactions.

Are there fees when buying a gift card with a credit card?

Whether there are fees associated with buying a gift card with a credit card depends on several factors, including the policies of the retailer or issuer, as well as the terms of your credit card agreement. Here are some common scenarios where fees may apply:

  1. Purchase fees: Some retailers or issuers may charge a flat fee for purchasing a gift card with a credit card. This fee could range from a few dollars to a percentage of the gift card's value. Not all retailers impose purchase fees, but it's essential to check before making a purchase.

  2. Activation fees: Certain gift cards may come with activation fees, which are charged at the time the gift card is loaded with value. These fees are typically disclosed at the point of sale and may vary depending on the retailer or type of gift card.

  3. Shipping fees: If you're purchasing a physical gift card online and having it shipped to your address or directly to the recipient, there may be shipping fees associated with the transaction. These fees can vary depending on the shipping method selected and the retailer's policies.

  4. Cash advance fees: While not common, some credit card issuers may classify gift card purchases as cash advances, especially if they are made at certain locations or are deemed cash equivalents. Cash advance transactions typically incur additional fees and higher interest rates than regular purchases.

  5. International transaction fees: If you're purchasing a gift card from an international retailer or website, your credit card issuer may charge an international transaction fee, which is typically a percentage of the purchase amount. This fee applies to transactions processed outside your home country.

Gift cards vs. prepaid cards

Gift cards and prepaid cards serve different purposes and have distinct features. A gift card is typically purchased as a gift to others and can be used at a specific retailer, restaurant, or a group of affiliated businesses. Prepaid cards are used as alternatives to traditional bank accounts or credit cards. You can use prepaid cards for online purchases or go to a store and swipe it anywhere the card network is accepted.

You buy a certain amount deposited into the gift card, and the hard is useless once the balance reaches zero. On the other hand, you can reload funds into a prepaid card many times for continued use. Gift cards may have purchase or activation fees, but typically there are no ongoing maintenance fees. Prepaid cards may have activation, monthly maintenance, ATM withdrawal, and reload fees.

Before buying a gift card with a credit card

Before buying a gift card with a credit card, there are several factors to consider to ensure a smooth transaction and avoid potential pitfalls:

  • Check for fees: Verify if the retailer charges a purchase or activation fee for the gift card. Check if your credit card issuer treats gift card purchases as cash advances, which can incur higher fees and interest rates.

  • Understand the terms and conditions: Confirm if the gift card has an expiration date and how it affects the card's usability. Review any restrictions on where and how the gift card can be used.

  • Know your balance and utilization: Ensure you have a way to check the remaining balance on the gift card. Understand how to use the gift card for partial payments if the purchase exceeds the card’s value.

  • Review credit card rewards and protections: Confirm if the purchase will earn rewards like points, miles, or cash back. Familiarize yourself with any purchase protection or fraud liability your credit card offers.

  • Verify the purchase process: Check if the merchant allows gift card purchases with a credit card and if any limitations apply, such as purchase limits. Determine whether you can buy the gift card online, in-store, or both.

  • Consider alternative options: Purchase gift cards from reputable retailers or official websites. If buying in-store, ensure the gift card packaging is intact and hasn’t been tampered with.

Buy your friends and family a gift card with a KOHO credit card

Purchasing gift cards with a credit card can be a convenient and rewarding way to treat your friends and family, especially when you take advantage of your credit card's rewards program and consumer protections. However, it's essential to be mindful of potential fees, usage restrictions, and the specific terms and conditions associated with both the gift card and your credit card.

With KOHO's expert advice, we help you do your due diligence and understand the nuances of the transaction. Our virtual credit card makes it easy for you to purchase gift cards without reaching for your wallet. Regularly pay off your balance on time to build your credit with KOHO and improve your credit score.

Monitor your credit profile with a free credit score to keep track of your gift card purchases and ensure you stay on track to maintain a healthy record. Apply for overdraft protection coverage to protect your credit score and debt management in case you go over your credit limit in unexpected situations.

Whether for birthdays, holidays, or special occasions, gift cards offer a versatile gift-giving solution that, when paired with the strategic use of a credit card, can maximize your financial benefits while delighting your loved ones.

Note: KOHO product information and/or features may have been updated since this blog post was published. Please refer to our KOHO Plans page for our most up to date account information!