I got a $US50 ($74) Visa gift card this past Christmas, and I spent exactly $US48 ($71) of it on four pairs of new socks (because I am now the kind of adult who wants socks for Christmas).
Then I had to figure out what to do with the $US2 ($3) left on the card. Was I supposed to carry this gift card in my wallet for the next six months, hoping for a day when I needed to buy a bottle of water or a pack of gum? Should I just throw the card away and consider myself lucky to have been able to have used 96 per cent of its total value?
The thing about these prepaid gift cards is that they aren’t very useful for shopping online. If I had added a fifth pair of socks-with-toes to my cart, the total would have gone above $US50 ($74) and I wouldn’t have been able to use my Visa gift card to make the purchase.
Why? Because online retailers don’t read these kinds of gift cards as “gift cards”—that is, they don’t give you the option to pay part of your total from your prepaid Visa gift card and part from a credit or debit card. If you want to use a prepaid Visa card (or a prepaid MasterCard, or any other kind of prepaid card) you have to be prepared to make the entire purchase on the card.
And that left me with $US2 ($3). What was I supposed to do with it?
Here’s what I did: I bought a $US2 ($3) online gift card from Amazon.
I got the idea from Rachel Miller’s blog Just Good Shit, in which she describes her “little hack for using every last cent on a Visa/Amex prepaid gift card:”
After receiving a high-value prepaid Visa gift card last year and getting sick of checking the balance all the time, I figured out a really simple and easy workaround that allows you to actually use every penny on said card: Once the gift card is down to a stupidly small amount that you don’t feel like fucking with, you can just go to Amazon and buy yourself an e-gift card for the exact amount on the Visa gift card. So if there’s $US7.83 ($12) on the Visa card, you can simply buy yourself a $US7.83 ($12) Amazon gift card.
I tried it myself, and Miller was right: you can purchase an Amazon e-gift card in nearly any amount you want, whether that’s $US7.83 ($12) or, in my case, $US2 ($3). Then, all you have to do is use the prepaid card to pay for it—and that’s the trickiest part of the whole process, because your Amazon muscle memory will prompt you to click or tap “buy now” (which will charge the gift card to your default method of payment) instead of “add to cart” (which will allow you to enter a new payment method, i.e. your prepaid card).
This hack is so useful that Lifehacker’s David Murphy suggests turning your prepaid gift cards into Amazon gift cards before you even start spending the money.
That said, I’m glad I held off on turning my $US50 ($74) Visa card into an Amazon gift card, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to spend $US48 ($71) at Injinji. But putting the remaining $US2 ($3) towards my next Amazon purchase suits me just fine—and I’d suggest you do the same the next time you have a few bucks left on one of these prepaid cards.