Prepaid Visa gift cards can be used at most stores or to even pay your bills. But they're different from store gift cards in that a cashier can't check the balance before you make a purchase.
It's important to know the balance before making a purchase or you may be stuck paying out-of-pocket to cover the remaining balance on a transaction. Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits all answer, as the method of checking your balance depends on who issued the gift card. Fortunately, you can check your balance in several ways.
Where to Start: First look at the back of the prepaid gift card for information on how to check the balance for that particular card. Visa gift cards are issued by many different banks and entities, so you'll have to follow instructions specific to that card. Many have Web sites or toll-free phone numbers you can call for detailed information. You'll need both the PIN that came with the gift-card packet and the number of your account. If you've lost your PIN, check with the vendor from whom the card was purchased. A representative can look up your account number and tell you the balance.
Use the gift card balance check page on this web site that provides details on the most common Visa gift cards, as well as almost every other gift card out there.
Most Common Visa Gift Cards:
Three of the most popular prepaid Visa gift cards are the Vanilla Visa Card, Simon Visa Card and the GiftCards.com Visa Gift Card. Balances for all three cards are available online:
Check Your Balance at the Point of Sale: Not all merchants have the ability to check your balance at the point of sale, but the following can provide this service:
If you make a purchase for an amount greater than the gift card balance, You'll need a second form of payment to cover the balance -- either cash or a credit or debit card -- if you want to make a purchase for an amount greater than the balance on your card. Before you make your purchase, tell the cashier the amount you would like applied to your Visa gift card.
Some merchants can apply your remaining prepaid Visa gift card funds to a transaction, even when you're unsure of the balance. They should also be able to prompt you to complete your purchase with a second payment method, if necessary. These merchants are: