Merchandise Credit Woes

My great experience at the Gap inspired me to continue in the online quest for apparel, and I was totally frustrated after another hour and a half of carefully selecting shopping bags.

When you purchase gift cards, make sure you intend to use those marked "merchandise credit" in a bricks and mortar store only.

Today was the day to pick out some apparel goodies online. As excited and click happy as I was, that jubilant eBubble burst after two bad experiences. I spent close to 30 minutes selecting colors, sizes and styles at Ann Taylor Loft with my killer 20% off gift card (remember, the one that was my favorite) only to find out it was a merchandise credit, not a gift card. Then the same with

What's the difference?

A lot more than you'd think. I was unable to complete my online purchase with a merchandise credit. It may only be used in a bricks and mortar store, which is an enormous bummer as Ann Taylor Loft only sells maternity clothing online. Plus prices are much higher online with this particular merchant. Biggest gift card bummer so far. Although an overly perky, saccharine sweet customer rep at ATL said I could swap out my merchandise credit for a gift card to then use online. Thank goodness we're heading to Dallas this weekend.

Next I head to to find some cute clothes for the kiddos. Spring is blooming all over big, vibrant prints with summer-inspired themes. I'm beyond giddy! I've selected the exact merchandise I want, taking the flat rate $5 shipping into account, only to find out [insert scary music]...they don't take merchandise credit either! Bummer number two. So then I burn some fuel and go to the mall to get the job done only to find a double whammy. Prices are higher and Gymbucks rewards program -- which is now giving $25 off a purchase of $50 or more during April if you spend at least $50 now -- are not compatible with merchandise credits! So I end up not getting the discount.

Thankfully, the checker allowed me to use my merchandise credit at all. After calling Gymboree's customer service line I discovered that merchandise credits must match the buyers photo ID and they may not be used to buy gift cards, something I obviously don't have since I wasn't the initial recipient. Ann Taylor Loft, on the other hand, will allow me to purchase a gift card with a merchandise credit.

Here's what you need to ask before buying a merchandise credit:

  • Can the merchandise credit be used for online purchases?
  • Is the rewards program valid when paying with a merchandise credit?
  • What is the expiration date of the merchandise credit?
  • Are the merchandise credits transferable or will I need to present identification in order to redeem it?
  • Can I buy a gift card with a merchandise credit?

Always clear these questions before buying merchandise credit and call your reselling gift card issuer to make sure you're aware of the type of card you're buying.