What to Do When a Gift Card Does Not Work

when a gift card doesn't work

Have you ever been excited about using a gift card, only to find out it’s not working as expected? It happens to the best of us! This guide is here to help you navigate through common issues like balance errors and redemption glitches that might pop up with gift cards. 

We’ll break down the reasons behind these problems and provide simple tips to troubleshoot and resolve them. So, If using a gift card ever confused you, don’t worry! We’re here to help you understand and make your gift card time easy and fun

Common Reasons for Gift Card Failure

There could be several reasons why your gift card is not working. Here are some common issues and potential solutions:

Insufficient Funds

Make sure to verify the remaining balance on your gift card. Sometimes, fees or charges may reduce the available balance. Additionally, some merchants may decline a transaction if the purchase amount exceeds the available balance.

Expiration Date

Gift cards typically have an expiration date, which is often printed on the card itself or included in the accompanying documentation. If your card has expired, you may need to contact the issuer for possible extensions or other solutions.


If your gift card requires activation, ensure that it has been activated by the person or entity who provided it. Activation processes vary, and some may involve making an initial purchase or registering the card online.

Merchant Restrictions

Check the terms and conditions of the gift card to see if there are any restrictions on where it can be used. Some gift cards are specific to particular stores or online platforms, and attempting to use them elsewhere may result in issues.

Card Type

Different types of gift cards exist, including physical cards and e-gift cards. Make sure you are using the correct type for the intended transaction. Additionally, verify that you are entering the correct details, such as the card number, PIN, and any other required information.

System Issues

Technical glitches or temporary outages in the payment processing system can occur. If you encounter problems, consider trying the transaction again after some time. If the issue persists, reaching out to the customer support of the merchant or gift card issuer is advisable.

Fraudulent Activity

If you suspect unauthorized activity on your gift card, such as if it has been lost or stolen, contact the issuer or customer support immediately. They may be able to investigate the issue, deactivate the card, and issue a replacement if necessary.

If none of these steps resolves the problem, providing specific details about the gift card, such as the issuer, type of card, and where it was purchased, can help customer support provide more targeted assistance.

Troubleshooting Common Gift Card Malfunctions

Gift cards are a convenient and popular way to give and receive gifts, but they can sometimes malfunction. Here are some common problems you might encounter, along with tips on how to fix them:

Card Not Scanning

  • Clean the card: Make sure the card is clean and free of debris. A simple wipe with a soft, dry cloth can sometimes do the trick.
  • Try swiping in different directions: Some card readers are more sensitive than others. Try swiping the card in different directions or at different speeds.
  • Contact the issuer: If the card still won’t scan, contact the issuer (the store or company that issued the card) for further assistance.

Incorrect Balance Displayed

  • Check the issuer’s website or app: The issuer’s website or app often has the most up-to-date information on your card’s balance.
  • Keep your receipts: Always keep your receipts for gift card purchases and transactions. This will help you track your balance and troubleshoot any discrepancies.
  • Contact the issuer: If the discrepancy between the displayed balance and your records persists, contact the issuer for further investigation.

Card Expired

  • Check the expiration date: Gift cards typically have an expiration date printed on the card. If the card expires, it can no longer be used.
  • Contact the issuer: Some issuers may be willing to reissue an expired card, especially if it was never used. However, this is not guaranteed, so it’s best to be proactive and check the expiration date before using the card.

Transaction Declined

  • Insufficient funds: Verify that you have enough funds remaining on the card to cover the purchase.
  • Merchant restrictions: Not all merchants accept all gift cards. Make sure the card you’re using is accepted by the merchant where you’re trying to use it.
  • Contact the issuer: If the transaction is still being declined, contact the issuer to see if there are any restrictions on the card or if there’s a problem with the merchant’s system.

Lost or Stolen Card

  • Report the card immediately: If you lose your gift card or suspect it has been stolen, report it to the issuer immediately. They can cancel the card and issue a replacement to prevent unauthorized use.
  • Keep a record of the card information: Keep a record of the card number, expiration date, and any other relevant information in a safe place. This will make it easier to report the card lost or stolen and to get a replacement.

By following these tips, you can troubleshoot most common gift card malfunctions and get back to enjoying your shopping spree.

Additional Tips to Follow

  • Register your gift card: Some issuers allow you to register your gift card online. This can help you track your balance, protect your card from unauthorized use, and receive updates and notifications.
  • Keep your gift cards in a safe place: Store your gift cards in a safe place where they won’t get lost or stolen. You can also consider keeping a digital copy of the card information in a password-protected file.
  • Use your gift cards promptly: Don’t let your gift cards sit around unused for too long. The sooner you use them, the less chance there is of them expiring or being lost or stolen.

How To Fix A Broken Gift Card

Fixing a broken gift card can be challenging, and in some cases, it may not be possible. However, you can try the following steps:

Contact Customer Support

Reach out to the customer support of the gift card issuer or the retailer where the card was purchased. Explain the situation and provide details about the damage to see if they can offer a solution or provide a replacement.

Provide Proof of Purchase

If you have a receipt or any proof of purchase, it can be helpful in demonstrating ownership of the gift card. Some issuers may be more willing to assist if you can provide this information.

Examine the Damage

Assess the extent of the damage. If the card’s barcode or magnetic stripe is still intact, there may be a better chance of recovery. If the damage is extensive, it might be more challenging to salvage.

Transfer Balance to a New Card

Some gift card issuers may allow you to transfer the remaining balance from the damaged card to a new one. Check with customer support to see if this is an option.

Use Online Platforms

If the gift card is associated with an online account, log in to the respective platform. Some online gift card systems allow you to access and use the card digitally, even if the physical card is damaged.

Check for Insurance or Protection

Some gift cards come with insurance or protection against loss or damage. Review the terms and conditions of the gift card to see if any coverage applies.

Visit the Issuing Store

If the gift card is associated with a specific store, visit the store in person. The staff may be able to assist you, especially if you have proof of purchase.

Be Patient and Persistent

Resolving issues with damaged gift cards may take time. Be patient and persistent in your communication with customer support, and escalate the issue if necessary.

Remember that the success of fixing a broken gift card largely depends on the policies of the issuer or retailer. Always check the terms and conditions associated with the gift card, and don’t hesitate to seek assistance from customer support for personalized guidance.


Now you’re all set! Use these easy tips, and you’ll be a gift card expert in no time. Just stay patient, learn a bit, and don’t hesitate to talk to the people who gave you the card. With this know-how, you can fix balance issues and shopping problems with ease, so you can enjoy your gift card shopping without any worries. So, go ahead, be the gift card guru, and have a blast spending!

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