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Can you buy gift cards with a credit card?

It’s usually allowed, but depends on the store.

Updated

Fact checked

Because gift cards can be used like cash, you might wonder if you can buy them with credit cards. You may be in luck: Retailers usually allow it. Just watch out for the possibility of declined transactions, and avoid cash advances when possible.

Can I buy gift cards with a credit card?

Yes, you can use a credit card to buy gift cards at most retailers. Occasionally, this won’t be allowed for a variety of possible reasons — for example, store-specific policies or a flagged transaction from your card issuer.

Buying gift cards with your credit card is usually coded as a purchase rather than a cash advance, though there may be exceptions.

What to be prepared for when you buy gift cards with a credit card

While you’ll usually have no trouble using your credit card to buy gift cards, once in a while you may run into a few hiccups. Here are a few common instances to watch out for:

You may be asked for your photo ID.

Some stores will ask that you show a matching ID when using a credit card to buy gift cards. By matching a name and face to the credit card, stores make it more difficult for people to use stolen cards for these transactions.

The transaction may be declined due to store-specific policies.

You could run into any number of responses at the checkout counter:

  • A credit card ban may be implemented throughout all stores in a chain.
  • Credit cards may not be allowed at the specific store you’re in if it’s a prime target for fraudsters.
  • You may even get unlucky and be matched with a clerk who mistakenly tells you the wrong store policy.

The easiest way around these roadblocks? Try a different store. If you’re feeling lucky, you could try the transaction again with another clerk at the same store.

Your card issuer may flag the transaction.

In this case, the transaction will be halted, and you’ll need to verify on your mobile device that you initiated the purchase. If the notification comes quickly enough, you may be able to proceed with the transaction at the counter. Otherwise, you’ll need to cancel the purchase and try again after you’ve verified it with your issuer.

One way to get around this limitation is by carrying a backup card. This card might not offer the rewards you were hoping for, but it may save you from having to try the transaction again.

Pro tip: Alternatives to using your credit card to buy gift cards

A store might not accept credit cards for gift-card purchases. However, you’ll likely have no issue if you pay for gift cards with cash, check or debit card.

When I buy a gift card with a credit card, is this a cash advance?

The answer is usually not. Buying a gift card with a credit card is usually considered a purchase. However, this transaction could be coded as a cash advance in certain instances, such as when:

  • You buy a prepaid card.
    Products such as Visa Gift Cards and American Express Gift Cards are sometimes considered cash equivalents, especially as they can be used virtually anywhere credit cards are accepted.You’ll rarely have this problem with closed-loop gift cards, because they can be used only at the stores they’re issued under.
  • You buy a gift card at a financial institution.
    If your card issuer generally codes a merchant’s services as cash advances, your gift-card purchase may fall under this category as well.

How to avoid cash advances when buying gift cards with your credit card

If you’re worried about cash advances, call your card issuer and try these strategies:

  • Ask if your gift-card purchase will code as a purchase or cash advance.
    Your issuer may be able to tell you outright if you’ll need to worry about cash advances.
  • Turn off cash advances for your credit card.
    If your issuer allows this, any cash advances will simply be declined when you use your credit card for them.

Compare credit cards to buy gift cards

Buying gift cards with grocery store credit cards can be a great choice. This is because grocery stores can offer a wide selection of gift cards, and certain cards offer strong rewards at these locations.

Rotating-cashback cards can be useful as well, occasionally offering bonus rewards in categories such as grocery stores and Amazon.com.

Lastly, store-specific credit cards can be lucrative for gift cards on top of giving you rewards for everyday purchases. Be sure to learn their bonus-reward rules for gift card purchases, though. With the Target REDcard™ Credit Card, for example, you won’t get the 5% discount on Target gift cards or prepaid cards, or on lottery, Stockpile or Gift of College gift cards.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Freedom Flex℠
$200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in the first year
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
$0
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
$150 after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$0
Get 3% cash back on groceries on up to $6,000 annually (then 1%) with no annual fee. This is a simple and effective rewards card. Rates & fees
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
$250 after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$95
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $250. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a huge signup bonus worth $$1,000 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Citi® Double Cash Card
N/A
Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)
$0
Earn up to 2% on every purchase with no annual fee. This is the highest flat-rate cashback card on the market.
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Can you earn rewards when buying gift cards with a credit card?

Yes, you can earn rewards on gift card purchases with your credit card. One of the best strategies is to use a grocery credit card at an eligible grocery store. Certain store cards may also offer excellent rewards. And if you love the variety of new bonus categories, rotating-cashback cards may give you a few optimal months each year to buy gift cards.

None of these card types work for you? Consider a trusty flat-rate cashback card that offers solid rewards on all purchases, including gift cards. The Citi® Double Cash Card is a market-leading choice.

Pro tip: Double check if you earn bonus rewards on gift cards

Before applying for a credit card or using one for a gift-card purchase, read the fine print. Check if the credit card offers bonus rewards on gift cards as some providers specifically block bonus rewards on these purchases.

Will my issuer close my credit card for buying gift cards?

Issuers typically consider gift cards to be legitimate purchases, but tread lightly if you’re dipping your toes into manufactured spending. This means buying things with your credit card that can be quickly converted to cash — such as gift cards.

Those engaging in manufactured spending may buy gift cards regularly in significant quantities. It’s this volume that typically raises flags with card issuers and leads to account shutdowns.

Ultimately, if you’re buying gift cards for manufactured spending, your issuer may eventually catch on and close your account. But if you buy gift cards here and there — particularly if you plan on giving them as presents or using them yourself — you’re probably just fine.

Bottom line

Though policies may vary by store and card issuer, you can usually use a credit card to buy gift cards. Avoid having your gift-card purchases classified as cash advances, and be careful with manufactured spending.

If you want rewards for gift-card purchases, consider one of the best grocery credit cards on the market.

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