Here's what you need to know about buying and using electronic Visa gift cards. (Spoiler alert: They must be used online.
Giftcards.com has been selling electronic Visa gift cards for over a decade, so I know a thing or two about how they work. The blog post below explains how to buy, redeem, and use electronic Visa gift cards and my favorite hack for using them online.
Main Difference Between Plastic and Electronic Visa Gift Cards
There are two main differences between plastic (a.k.a. "physical") and electronic (a.k.a. "digital," "gift," or "e-gift") Visa gift cards as follows:
- DELIVERY PLASTIC Visa gift cards look like debit or credit cards. They can be purchased in stores or bought online and shipped to recipients. Electronic Visa gift cards are virtual, purchased online, and delivered via email, text, or another digital mode.
- REDEMPTION Physical Visa gift cards can be redeemed in stores, online, and over the phone. Electronic gift cards MUST be redeemed online or wherever "card not present" transactions are allowed.
Physical and electronic Visa gift cards contain a card number, expiration date, and code verification value (CVV). Both cards may also be linked to personal information (e.g., name, address, or zip code) if given at activation. If you plan to use an electronic Visa gift card online, keep that in mind.
Where to Buy Electronic Visa Gift Cards
Electronic Visa gift cards must be purchased online from a Visa-authorized gift card issuer. To my knowledge, Giftcards.com was the first to sell virtual Visa gift cards, but now there are a few other options. Here's what to look for in choosing where to buy electronic Visa gift cards:
- AUTHORIZED BY VISA Reputable gift card sellers generally list issuing banks and license agreements on their websites. For example, Giftcards.com Visa® eGift Cards are issued by MetaBank® and licensed from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Here's a list of authorized Visa gift card sellers.
- SECURE DELIVERY Since anyone with access to the numbers on an electronic Visa gift card can use the funds, only buy gift cards from issuers that guarantee fast delivery. At Giftcards.com, for example, recipients must provide an email address to claim an E-gift card and provide address information to activate an e-gift card.
- FREE DELIVERY Electronic Visa gift card delivery should be fast and free. Many websites provide scheduled delivery options as well. This feature means you can buy gift cards at a convenient time for you and still have the e-gift card arrive on the day of the celebration.
- CUSTOMER SERVICE Only buy gift cards from reputable sellers that offer money-back guarantees and customer service. For example, suppose your electronic Visa gift card doesn't get delivered. In that case, you will want a person to talk to and a company willing to fix the problem.
Remember to protect your e-gift card number. Anybody with access to the electronic Visa gift card can use it online without your permission.
How to Buy Electronic Visa Gift Cards
To buy an Electronic Visa gift card, you will need to provide the following:
- Name and email address of the recipient
- Dollar amount
- Delivery date
- Custom message (optional)
- Photo or video (optional)
Complete the purchase after customizing the e-gift card. The e-gift card will be delivered on the scheduled delivery date when payment has been processed.
You will have to pay an activation fee when purchasing a plastic Visa gift card. Below is a list of the Giftcards.com fees.
How to Redeem Electronic Visa Gift Cards
Electronic Visa gift cards are generally usable wherever Visa debit cards are accepted. To redeem an electronic Visa gift card during online checkout, enter the card number, expiration date, and CVV in the debit/credit card fields. Do NOT use the gift card fields. (Gift card fields are reserved for the website's gift cards.)
If you are having trouble redeeming an electronic Visa gift card, review the following restrictions:
- Must be used online
- Must be used on a United States-based website
- May not be used on gambling sites or adult websites
- May not be used on money transfer services like Venmo/PayPal
- May not be used for recurring bill payments
WHAT IS YOUR BILLING ADDRESS? The name and address linked to the electronic Visa gift card at the time of purchase or the address entered when you claimed and activated the card should be used. This blog post explains how to use a zip code when using a Visa gift card online if that does not work.
Buy a plastic Visa gift card instead if you want to use a Visa gift card in stores.