GCG’s Guide to International Gift Cards

Finding the perfect gift for someone international is a considerable challenge. One of the major difficulties is the cost of getting something from where you are to where they are. Shipping fees often make the cost rise astronomically regardless of what it is you are sending their way. In this instance, more than ever, you don’t want to get your friend something that they aren’t overly fond of because of the effort required to get it to them! Something that doesn’t fit with their current life, or isn’t to their taste, or any other reason. The stakes are high when it comes to international gift giving. 


There is, however, one gift that almost guarantees that they will enjoy it: a gift card. While gift cards are sometimes thought of as impersonal and less-than-perfect gifts they open up so many doors that your friend can pick on their own. This comes with its own problems, however, as sending gift cards internationally comes with its own challenges. 


Not sure where to start? No worries! In this article, we are covering ins and outs of international gift cards, including: 

  • Which cards can be spent internationally?

  • What to keep in mind when buying a gift card for international use

  • The power of Visa and MasterCard prepaid cards

Earn Cash Back On International Gift Cards with Gift Card Granny

As a quick reminder, we’ve pointed out all of the retailers on this list that you can find on Gift Card Granny as of this writing. Gift Card Granny makes it easy to buy and send customized gift cards online and earn cash back while you do. Gift Card Granny carries thousands of local and national brands including Visa gift cards, Mastercard gift cards, and gift cards for many of the awesome spots on this list.


Now that we’re on the same page, let’s jump right into our list!

Buying an International Gift Card

Finding a gift card that works internationally is always going to be a challenge, but with our help, it will be a piece of cake!


Buying an international gift card is challenging. Gift cards are turning into spectacular gifts, as they allow you to cover a broad spectrum of possibilities for those who you are worried about finding the right specific gift for. Gift cards bridge the gap between all ages and types of people, giving them the agency to purchase something on their own. That being said, a 2021 survey revealed that the average American adult has $116 of unspent gift cards in their possession. That is a lot of money! It adds up to billions of dollars of unspent gift cards in the States. That means that the stakes are high when purchasing a gift card, too! 


When purchasing an international gift card, it is imperative that you make sure it can be spent in the country where the recipient resides. If, for instance, you purchase an Amazon card in their US store it can only be spent in the United States. You can purchase international Amazon gift cards that are tied to another country's Amazon store, but you have to make sure that those countries have Amazon stores! 


Amazon Gift Cards

Amazon gift cards are available in around 100 countries. That’s a lot! When ordering an Amazon gift card, make sure to direct it to the right region. Amazon gift cards are region locked to a specific region, so if you were to purchase a gift card to the United Kingdom Amazon store you’d have to spend it at the United Kingdom Amazon store. 

What’s the Right Currency for Your Gift Card?

When buying an Amazon gift card internationally, you have to make sure it is in the right currency. Your friend would have no use for a gift card in Europe if it was in US Dollars! Well, most of the time, the exception of which we will discuss later in the article. When you buy a gift card in another country's Amazon store, it will default to the normal currency of that country, which is almost always the currency in which you will want to purchase the gift card.


The trouble comes when the country's currency is not the favored currency, which usually happens for one of two reasons. One is that the national currency is very unstable, leading to risky fluctuations. In that case, getting an accepted currency that is more stable is ideal. The other problem comes when a country’s national currency is less accepted than a specific international currency. In that case, the international currency is better. 


This is a rather complicated process, the details of which vary depending on the specific country that you have in mind. We recommend doing research on the policies of Amazon in that country and progressing according to those instructions. 


Can Your Gift Card be Spent Internationally?

Different companies have different policies on international gift cards. We recommend finding specific language for the company you are planning on using to send a gift card internationally. 


Unfortunately, that depends. A variety of factors go into international gift cards, but most of them are only usable within the country that they are purchased. That means when you buy, for instance, a Home Depot gift card at your local Home Depot, that card is only usable in Home Depots nationwide. When you are deciding what gift card to get, make sure to research what gift cards are available in the recipient’s country. A lot of international businesses are restrictive on the locations where their gift card is used. The mechanics behind the distribution and acceptance of gift cards internationally are rather complex. If you are interested, there are other ways to show your appreciation of your friend internationally, such as transferring money, but even that comes with its own set of fees and restrictions. This is a list of common stores and their policy on international gift card use: 

  • Amazon Gift Card. As we discussed, Amazon has country-specific stores. Your Amazon gift card is usable in the country in which it was purchased.

  • Best Buy Gift Card. These gift cards are only valid in US stores.

  • Home Depot Gift Card. Home Depot stores accept gift cards in the US, Canada, and Mexico, regardless of where it was purchased. 

  • iTunes Gift Card. iTunes gift cards are only valid in the United States.

  • Walmart Gift Card. A gift card bought in the states can only be spent in the states. As of now, Walmart does not offer international gift cards. 

  • Whole Foods Gift Card. Gift cards for Whole Foods are only usable in the states. 

  • American Express Gift Card. Gift cards are only usable in the US.

  • Mastercard and Visa Gift Card. These are not quite the same as others on this list and are available internationally. It is, alas, not quite that simple, which we will elaborate on later in this article. 


Cautions when Buying an International Gift Card

It would be terrible to go through the process of sending a gift card internationally only for it not to work when your friend receives it, so we advise an overabundance of research and certainty for the company that you plan on using as your gift card and that it is absolutely acceptable in the country in which your friend lives. In the next section, we will talk about what might just be your best option for sending a gift card internationally — Visa and Mastercard prepaid cards. 

Visa and Mastercard Prepaid Cards

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The Mastercard Travel card is your best bet for sending a gift card to your friend. It is meant to be a purchase made before going on a trip to evade having to go to local banks and convert money before you go. It is prepaid, meaning you can load however much you want on it, and it is usable in many countries around the globe. Getting your international friend a gift card can be a great gift, as it takes off some of the financial weight of their day-to-day life. It can go to groceries, rent, or utilities, giving them more savings or more money to spend on something exciting.


Sending a gift to another country requires a certain amount of dedication. To ensure that your efforts are not in vain, we recommend double and triple-checking all the relevant details so that your gift card can be spent by your friend internationally, no matter where they are. If it is possible, try to get some insight from someone living there (it could even be your friend, if you aren’t planning a surprise!) on what gift cards are available locally. Depending on the country, there may be an easier way to get the money to them. 


If you’ve settled on getting a Mastercard prepaid travel card, only one obstacle remains — actually getting the card to them! If you’ve gotten a physical card, you have to check that your carrier is cool with shipping a credit card overseas (most of them are) and that the country won’t detain it upon its arrival. International shipping takes some time, but once you have it set and ready to go, it is out of your hands. Then, after shipping time, it will arrive to your friend, and there will be smiles all around. 

Although you may not be able to hand the gift card off in person, a gift card is a great gift to those nationally and internationally. Image courtesy of Swag Bucks.


Those are our thoughts on international gift cards. It is very difficult to send money internationally, and, before you do, it is good practice to look up the specific company you plan on getting a gift card from beforehand to check their policy. They might offer international gift cards! That little bit of insight can lead you down the path to a gift that your friend will cherish, no matter where they are on the globe. There is also the chance that they, or a mutual friend, is doing some traveling in the area. If you know someone in the recipient’s country that will soon be close by, you could reach out and see if they will handle it on their end. Gift cards can be wondrous gifts, especially when they are purchased by someone who has the lay of the land and knows the best bar, the best cafe, and the best luxury spots in town. 


A third party, while further complicating matters, can deliver a personalized gift card to one of your friend’s favorite establishments, and at that point, we guarantee their jaw will drop to the floor with how amazing you are. A prepaid Visa or Mastercard is a great gesture, and a card delivered by a third party is the perfect gesture. Regardless of which one you choose, your friend will be very happy when they receive their gift and we wish you the best of luck when it comes to finding the right gift for your international friend, gift card or not. 


Gift cards are a fantastic way to show your appreciation and a great gift. They allow the recipient to go out and try something new, whether it’s shopping at a clothing store, going out and getting new handles for all their cabinets, or browsing through Amazon to find that item they’ve been searching for. Gift cards allow them to take the initiative, and sometimes you get to come along for the ride. Gift cards are always valuable gifts, and we hope that you have found the perfect card for the occasion with the new knowledge you possess. 


Remember: many of the retailers on this list are available at Gift Card Granny, where you can earn cashback and rewards on all of your gift card purchases. 


From all of us here at Gift Card Granny, happy shopping!