Visa Gift Card declined or not working? (7 Reasons)

Updated: March 19, 2024
Visa Gift Card Declined

Recently purchased a Visa gift card? Well, then you must be excited to use it online—but what if it’s declined? It can tick you off and be really embarrassing when this happens.

The worst part about such gift cards is that you can’t contact your bank and resolve your query because a gift card doesn’t link to any bank, unlike a debit, prepaid, or credit card.

But why does it happen? In this article, we will walk you through the most common causes of why your Visa gift card is being declined or not working and how you can fix it. Let’s jump straight to the article.

What Is A Visa Gift Card?

Visa Gift Cards are non-reloadable prepaid cards that can be used to make purchases online, over the phone, or in person at participating retailers.

The cards are issued by Visa and can be purchased from banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. They are similar to debit cards but do not require a checking account or credit check.

A user sets the initial value at the time of purchase and can only spend the amount of money loaded onto the card. They are convenient, safe, and easy to use.

Visa Gift Cards have a 16-digit card number, expiration date, and security code like traditional credit cards.

They are accepted wherever Visa, Mastercard, and Discover debit cards are accepted. However, some financial institutions don’t allow any transactions outside of Visa.

They are a great option for those who don’t have a credit card or debit card or who want to limit their spending.

Visa Gift Cards vs. Regular Debit Cards

Visa gift cards and debit cards both offer convenient ways to access funds for purchases. However, there are some key differences between the two.

A Visa gift card is a prepaid card that is pre-loaded with a certain amount of money. Unlike a debit card, it is not connected to a checking or savings account.

Instead, the cardholder uses the card until the balance is depleted or exhausted, and it cannot be refilled once the funds are used up.
On the other hand, a debit card is linked to your checking account.

When you make purchases with a debit card, the funds are drawn directly from your account. While you can use a debit card to make purchases online or in stores, it also offers access to ATMs and cash-back options, while gift cards don’t.

Overall, while both cards can be used to pay for goods, they serve different purposes. To sum up, a Visa gift card is better suited for one-time purchases, while a debit card offers ongoing access to your checking account funds.

Why Is My Visa Gift Card Not working? Reasons and Fixes

There could be various reasons why you’re not able to use your Visa gift card online or anywhere. The most common reason is that your card is not supported by a merchant. Similarly, you may find other factors below that are causing your transaction to decline.

Inactive card

If your payment doesn’t go through or fails, the first thing to check is if your card has been activated. All Visa gift cards must be activated before they can be used.

If you recently purchased a Visa gift card, it may not have been activated yet. To activate your Visa gift card, you need to call the toll-free number provided with the card or log into the website indicated on the back of the card. Once you provide the necessary information, your card will be ready to use.

How to activate your Visa gift card

Activating a Visa gift card is a simple process that requires a few steps. The first step is to check the back of the gift card for activation instructions, which will tell you whether the card needs to be activated in-store or online.

  • If the card must be activated in-store, take it to the register at any store that accepts Visa gift cards. Give the cashier the gift card and ask them to activate it. Make sure to have your ID ready to prove that you are the owner of the card.
  • If the card can be activated online, Head to the Visa website and access your account. Enter the gift card information, including the 16-digit number, expiration date, and security code on the back of the card.
  • Once you have entered all of the information, you will be asked to create a PIN for your card. This will be the PIN you use to make purchases with your card.
  • Once you have created your PIN and submitted all of your information, your card should be activated and ready for use.

Some Visa Gift Cards, such as Vanilla, come activated, so you don’t have to manually activate them.

Wrong PINS

Are you sure that you’re entering the correct PIN while making a payment? Your Visa gift card has a 4-digit PIN that you need to enter when you use the card to purchase something.

If your PIN is invalid, the transaction won’t go through. Anyway, in this case, you’ll need to call the customer service number on the back of your card to find out what your PIN is.

A customer representative may ask you for the three digit CVV code printed on the back of your card.

You’ll then be able to reenter the correct PIN and complete your transaction. It’s worth nothing that your Visa gift card is not linked to any bank account, so if you forget your PIN, you won’t be able to reset it online. Also, you cannot use it at ATMs.

Note: Your four last digits of the card are often set as the default PIN.

Insufficient funds

Have you checked your gift card balance before initiating a payment? If not, you must. Due to a lack of funds, it’s obvious that your card will be declined.

As we know, you can only load your gift card at the time of purchase, not later. Before initiating a transaction, it’s always a good idea to check the balance of the card to ensure there is enough money to cover the cost of the item or service you’re looking to purchase.

To check your Visa gift card balance, you can head over to the Visa website or call the phone number on the back of your card.

However, you may need to provide your card number and security code in order to access your account information and view available funds.

In case your card doesn’t have enough money to cover an expense, you can’t do anything about it since gift cards can’t be reloaded. So it’s always wise to confirm your card balance before making a payment.

Expired Card

If your card is being declined all of a sudden with a balance on it, it could mean that it has expired.

Unlike debit and credit cards, you cannot renew your Visa gift card once it’s expired. You can check the back of the card to see the expiration date. It will typically be two years from the date the card was purchased.

So, make sure you don’t use an expired card to make a payment online, at any store, or over the phone—it won’t work. Unfortunately, there is no way to revoke your Visa Gift card if its available balance is exhausted.

Exceeding limit

It’s likely that you’re trying to pay for an item that costs way more than you’ve money in your Visa Gift card. Make sure you spend your cash within your card limit or your transaction will be declined or throw any payment error.

It’s already known that the Visa Gift Card has a pre-set limit and can only be fueled once, at the time of purchase.

So make sure that it can only be used to purchase items up to a certain amount.

Wrong Merchant

May be your card is not supported by the merchant you’re trying to pay. Generally, some online and retail stores don’t take Visa due to some legal or policy issues.

So, always confirm with a merchant if Visa is supported or not, so you don’t encounter any payment errors.

Many merchants have policies on which payment types they accept, and some may only accept debit or credit cards or other third-party payments.

We suggest you contact the merchant directly if your Visa gift card isn’t accepted and find out their policy on accepting payments. This way, you can assure that your transaction will go through.

Lost or stolen card

Unfortunately, if your Visa gift card has been reported as lost or stolen, it will be declined. This is carried out as a safety precaution to safeguard the cardholder and their money.

Once the card has been reported, the issuing bank can then deactivate it to prevent any unauthorized use. It is worth mentioning that this action cannot be undone.

Therefore, you will no longer be able to use it. For the most part, you will not be able to receive a refund or be issued a replacement card.

Wrap Up

No matter what the reason may be, it can be frustrating when your Visa gift card is declined. This article will help you navigate your issue and learn how to prevent it from happening again.

We advise you to double check the card’s balance before making a purchase and to make sure the card is still valid. If your Visa gift card does get declined, contact the card issuer to find out why.

Most issuers are willing to help you troubleshoot the issue and get the card back in working order.

Using a Visa gift card can be a great way to keep tabs on your spending and avoid overspending. Just remember to treat it like cash and use it responsibly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is my Visa gift card not working?

It may be expired or have inadeqete funds to make a payment. Make sure you read all the points in this article to know why your gift card is not working.

Why can’t I reload my Visa gift card balance?

You cannot. You can only decide a certain amount in a Visa gift card during purchase. Once your card’s balance is over, simply don’t use it anymore.

Can I use my card at an ATM?

No, you cannot use your Visa gift card at an ATM. You can only use it on your phone or at merchants that accept Visa, Discover, and Mastercard.

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By ankit raghuwanshi
He is an editor-in-chief, an admin, and the guy who kickstarted TheAppFlow. He often wraps his head around personal finance or fintech apps and never shies away from learning new things that he can share with people to streamline their wealth.