Why You Should Give Reloadable Gift Cards a Try

Updated 4/25/2019

Whether plastic, virtual or mobile, the number one item on wish lists for a number of years now has been gift cards. Most people use a gift card on a purchase or order and once all of the funds have been used, they throw it away or delete the email. But did you know certain gift cards can be reloaded?

Going back almost ten years ago, the average gift card amount increased 1.9%, according to GiftCardAdvocate.org. Gift card reloads -- the practice of adding value to an existing card -- increased by 25% in the first half of 2010.

Fast forward to today. Life hasn’t slowed down at all. But luckily, you have options to make paying for what you want a little easier. The only way to find out whether something is good or not, is to try it! Don’t waste time buying gift cards over and over again. Give reloadable gift cards a try.

Types of Reloadable Gift Cards

Retail Gift Cards

If you love a certain store or restaurant, you’re bound to get a gift card or two there for Christmas or your birthday. So, why throw the card away if you’re just going to shop or dine there in the future. Not only do these three brands make the Business Insider Biggest Retailers in America list, they also offer reloadable gift cards with no fees.


Also known as a McDonald’s Arch card, these gift cards make it easy to pay at the register or in the drive thru. They are accepted at any McDonald’s location and never expire.

How to Reload:

Reload your physical McDonald’s gift card when it runs low at any McDonald’s restaurant or online. For all you hamburglars out there, you can even set-up automatic reload with your credit card, so you never miss a happy meal.


You can redeem physical or eGift cards on Amazon.com while shopping for anything and everything under the sun!

How to Reload:

From the Gift Card balance page in your account, you are able to use your gift card or reload it for a designated amount. You can even setup auto-reload. You set the denomination and schedule the deposit date, and money will be added to your gift card from your debit card or credit card. When you enroll in auto-reload, you can earn 2% in rewards.

It’s a great way to keep your spending habits in check so you don’t go over budget. And let’s face it, we all could benefit from an Amazon budget.


Whether you’re using a Target gift card to pick up groceries or a bathing suit, you can redeem it online or in-store. While they can be delivered in a variety of forms (physical, eGift, and mobile), they can only be reloaded in-store at Target.

How to Reload:

To add money to an existing gift card, bring it to guest services or ask the cashier during checkout. Reload denominations start at $5.

Now that we’ve addressed some popular reloadable retailer gift cards, let’s dive into prepaid gift cards and what makes them different.

Prepaid Gift Cards

Prepaid gift cards are a popular alternative to retailer gift cards and credit cards. In fact, Consumer Reports noted that prepaid cards accounted for 9% of all payment-card purchases made at merchants in 2016. While prepaid gift cards are reloadable, they differ from retailer gift cards in a few of ways.

  • You’re not restricted to one specific brand.

For example, if someone gives you a $25 Vanilla gift card, you essentially have $25 to spend anywhere. Redeem at any ecommerce site or in a brick and mortar store. Use a prepaid card when filling up your gas tank or to pay a utility bill.

  • There are typically fees associated with them.

When you go to buy a $100 prepaid gift card you will probably end up paying more like $102 or $105 for it due to the purchase charge.

  • They offer flexibility and peace of mind.

They're a great option if you don’t have a bank account or feel uncomfortable using your bank card for a transaction. They also ensure you don’t go into debt as it’s a set denomination that you pay for up front. You hit your spending limit when the balance reaches zero.

Three popular prepaid card issuers include Visa, American Express, and Mastercard. With so many options out there, it’s hard to know which one is right for you. Make sure you do your homework and compare options.