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Month: March 2009

American Express Gift Card Explained

american-express-gift-cardThe American Express gift card is one of the most popular bank issued gift cards, second only to the Visa Gift Card. The gift card can be purchased at participating banks and at drug and grocery stores in denominations of $25, 50, 100 and 250. They can also be purchased online here in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $200, $500, $700, $1000, $2000 and $3000 (subject to a shipping charge, in addition to the purchase fee).

Below are the most frequently asked questions about the American Express Gift Card:

1. Can I add more funds to the American Express Gift Card?
No, you cannot add more money to the American Express Gift Card. Once the original value on the card is used up, the card becomes worthless. For a reloadable bank issued gift card, you can buy a Reloadable Visa Gift Card.

2. What fees come with the American Express Gift Card?

Like most bank issued gift cards, the American Express Gift Card comes with fees, including a purchase fee of about $4.95 payable at the time of purchase. There is also a monthly service fee of $2 that is charged after 12 months of purchase. This is better when compared to the Visa Gift Card service fees, which are typically charged after 7 months of purchase and can be as much as $4.95. In addition, if your card is lost or stolen, American Express will replace any available funds still remaining on the card but will charge you a replacement fee of $5.95.

3. Can I use the American Express Gift Card to make purchases online?
Yes, but before you do that, you need to register the card with American Express (add your name and billing address to the card). This is necessary because the online merchant will then be able to match the name and billing address you provide for your order with the name and billing address on file for your visa gift card (just like they do for credit cards).

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Reloadable Visa Gift Card Explained

For a complete review of the most popular Prepaid Gift Cards, Click here.

smart-cash-visa-cardThe Reloadable Visa Gift Card, as the name suggests, allows you to reload the card with cash several times over until the card expires. The Reloadable Visa Gift Card is an ideal choice for those without a credit card who want the benefits of a credit card, like shopping or paying bills online. They are also a way to build credit since some Reloadable Visa Gift Cards do report to the credit bureaus. It is also a good way to help teach kids and teenagers about money management since they can only spend the money loaded on the card.

There is however a difference between the Reloadable Visa Gift Card and Visa Gift Card. While both cards are accepted anywhere visa debit cards are accepted, the Reloadable Visa Gift Card has the following features that the Visa Gift Card does not have:

1. To purchase a Visa Reloadable Gift Card, you must be at least 18 years old and must provide a government issued ID.

2. Also, unlike the Visa Gift Card, you can use the Reloadable Visa Gift Card to get cash at an ATM, an important feature for many people that use the card for budgeting and cash management.

3. The Reloadable Visa Gift Card allows you to add money through direct deposit of your wages, tax refunds, or other disbursements, such as social security, child support, welfare or other payments.

4. Another important distinguishing factor is that the Reloadable Visa Gift Card allows you to pay bills online, including recurring bills and subscriptions. Some Visa Gift Cards claim to allow this but many consumers that have tried have been unsuccessful.

You can buy the Reloadable Visa Gift Card at the following stores – Walmart, ACE Cash Express, CVS, Kroger, Walgreens, some Supervalu stores, Safeway, and Rite Aid. For other locations, click here.

I highly recommend the Wal-Mart Reloadable Visa Gift Card for the fact that they just reduced the purchase fee to $3 from $8.94 in February 2009, which is the lowest I have seen so far. You’ve probably seen their commercials on TV about the $3 fee.

You can also get the Reloadable Visa Cards online at the following places:

All Access Reloadable Visa Card

READY Debit Reloadable Visa Card

PAYjr Visa Buxx Reloadable Debit Cards

The Green Dot Prepaid Card

Visa Gift Card Explained

For reviews and a complete list of the most popular Visa Gift Cards, click here.

visa-gift-cardsVisa gift cards are a great way to teach teenagers about money management. They also make great gifts, whether for a wedding, birthday, high school or college graduation. Visa gift cards are convenient and work just like debit cards. You can use them anywhere visa debit are accepted, including online. They can also be replaced if lost or stolen, which makes them better than giving cash. Visa gift cards are issued by participating banks for any amount between $5 – $500. You can also buy them at denominations of $25, $50, $100 and $200 at most drug and grocery stores.

However, like other bank issued gift cards, Visa gift cards come with fees, including purchase fees, which are typically $4.95, monthly maintenance fees (which are charged after 6 or 12 months of purchase), and replacement fees, among others. They also carry expiration dates.

Nonetheless, Visa gift cards are very popular, which shows that consumers are happy with the convenience they offer and see the fees as a trade off.

For a list of where to buy visa gift cards in person, click here

For a list of where to buy visa gift cards online click here

If you are unsure of which Visa Gift Card to buy, you can check out the Vanilla Visa Gift Card or the All Access Gift Card, two of the most popular Visa gift cards.

All Access Visa Gift Card Explained

all-access-visa-gift-cardThe All-Access Visa gift card is one of the most popular Visa prepaid cards. The card can be used anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. You can purchase one at most check cashing places and convenience stores, including at some gas stations. They are also available at most drug and grocery stores and come in denominations of $25, $50, $100, and up to $250. Like other Visa gift cards, the All-Access Visa card comes with fees, including a purchase fee of $4.95. The card is not reloadable or returnable once purchased.

Here are the most common FAQs regarding the All-Access Visa card:

1. What are the fees associated with the All-Access Visa card

In addition to the purchase fee of $4.95 that is payable at the cashiers, the All-Access Visa card comes with a monthly service fee of $2.95 that is charged after the 7th month of purchase. However, some have reported online that the service fee is actually $4.95 per month. There is no way to clarify this since strangely enough, All-Access Visa does not have information on their website (including FAQs) about fees associated with their cards.

The monthly service fee is charged until the balance is depleted so take note. Many customers who purchased the All-Access Visa card and held on to them got a rude awakening when they found out their funds have been wiped out by the monthly service fees. Also, while online balance inquiry is free, there may be a charge for balance inquiry request made via phone.

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Vanilla Visa Gift Card Explained

A full review of the Vanilla Visa Gift Card is below. Also check our list of the most popular Visa Prepaid Gift Cards that allow you to shop online, pay bills, and get money at ATMs among other features.

The Vanilla Visa gift card is one of the most popular Visa gift cards. You can purchase one at many drug or convenience stores and they come in denominations of $25, $50 and $100. They are accepted anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted but they cannot be used at merchants outside of the United States.

One of the nice features about the Vanilla Visa gift card is that they are replaceable when lost. Just contact Vanilla Visa online at and a new card will be issued. There is however a $5.95 Re-Issuance Fee for replacing a card. The cards are not reloadable or returnable once purchased.

The Vanilla Visa gift card is activated by the cashier at the time of purchase. All you need to do is sign the back of the card and you can use it immediately. There is no need to call a special number to activate the card.

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Safeway Gift Card Mall has Visa Gift Card and More

safeway-gift-card-mallSafeway grocery or supermarket has Visa gift cards among others. The company sells gift cards through its gift card malls, which are prominently displayed at all the stores.

Safeway by far has the best variety in gift cards, ranging from Dining Out, Electronics, Games & Toys, Fashion, Home & Grocery, Sports, Recreation & Travel, Tickets & Entertainment.

Safeway owns Blackhawk Network, the largest provider of third-party prepaid cards. Blackhawk supplies third party gift cards to many leading grocery, convenience, and drug stores around the country including  Ahold, Chevron, Food Lion, Giant Eagle, Safeway, Stater Bros., Ukrop’s and Wawa.

For a list of Safeway gift cards, click here.

CertifiChecks files for bankruptcy – will not honor gift certificates

certifichecksCertifiChecks Inc, is going out of business and will not honor gift certificates. The Ohio-based online gift certificate company has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. The company blamed its predicament on the challenging economic environment. The company sold a lot of gift certificates to various local Chambers of Commerce around the country.

Holders of gift cards issued by CertifiChecks now have two options: Option one is to mail your gift certificate to the company for possible reimbursement at:

CertifiChecks, Inc.
Attn: Redemption Dept.
PO Box 13603
Dayton, Ohio 45413

Option two is to keep your gift certificate and later file a claim with the bankruptcy court against the company’s assets. Gift Certificates that are mailed to the company will also go through the bankruptcy claim process. My recommendation is that if you decide to mail them your gift certificate, make a copy of it and send it via certified mail with return receipt. That way, you know it got there and who signed for it.

Is it worth submitting a claim to the bankruptcy court? It may be your only option. Besides, gift card holders of the Bombay Company received 25 cents on the dollar when the company went bankruptcy so it is worth the try. One possible way to get more money back immediately is to see whether other companies are accepting CertifiChecks gift certificates. Just do a search on Google news about “CertifiChecks gift certificates” and you will get all the latest information about CertifiChecks. Also, contact whoever issued your CertifiChecks gift certificates to see if they will issue a reimbursement.

If you have been impacted by this and have been able to get all or some of your money back, please tell us about your experience in the comments section so that other readers will benefit.

Supervalu offering free gift card of $20 or $30 with purchase

supervalu-logoSupervalu, the grocery chain that also runs Acme, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco among other stores is offering an additional $20 or $30 in gift cards when you purchase a Supervalu gift card of $250 or $300 respectively.

The program is similar to the one run last year when a number of retailers and grocery stores were offering customers an additional 10% if they purchased gift cards with their stimulus checks. This Suparvalu program is valid at all Supervalu sister stores, including Acme, Albertsons, bigg’s, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco and Shaw’s/Star Market. The offer will run during the tax season and ends on April 15th.

Stolen iTunes gift card codes sold online?

If you are into buying iTunes gift cards online, you may have come across incredibly cheap iTunes gift card offers, especially on eBay. In most cases, the seller emails you an iTunes gift card code which is usually active for a few hours, meaning you have to use it soon or lose it. These codes are sold at substantially deep discounts, as compared to other discounted gift cards sold online, like on and other secondary gift card sites.

Two questions come to mind regarding these deeply discounted iTunes gift cards. First, there is no public information out there showing that Apple is deeply discounting iTunes gift cards through third party sites. Also, if these iTunes gift card codes are legitimately obtained, why the need to have the buyer use it quickly? One possible reason may be because the gift cards were obtained using stolen credit cards and the seller is afraid that if the card is not used quickly, the authorities may be able to trace the card purchase and have the iTunes card deactivated.

Another possible explanation is that hackers may have been able to crack the algorithm Apple uses to generate iTunes gift cards and are therefore able to generate them at will and offer them at such deep discounts. A recent article from The Tech Herald confirms this suspicion. According to the article, hackers in China have been able to crack the Apple iTunes code generation system and are selling $200 USD iTunes cards for about $17.9 RMB or $2.60 USD. If this is the true, then Apple is doing a very poor job of securing the iTune codes.

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