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Using Visa or American Express Gift Cards to Shop Online

This Post is about how you can use the Visa or American Express Gift Cards to Shop Online. For a List of Popular Visa Gift Cards that you can use to shop online, pay bills, and get cash at ATMs, etc, see below.

One of the most asked gift card questions, particularly on Yahoo Answers is whether you can use a Visa or any other bank issued gift card (American Express, Discover, or MasterCard) to shop online. The answer is yes.

However, there are additional steps you have to take to prevent your card from being rejected by the merchant. The problem with using Visa (or any other bank issued) gift card online is that there is no verifiable name and address associated with the card. When buying things online, most merchants want your name and billing address to match the name and address you have on file with your card (credit, debit, or bank gift card) issuer.

Therefore, before you use your Visa or other bank issued gift card, call the merchant/financial institution that issued the card or go to their website and add your name and address to the card. This will ensure that when you use the card online, the name and address you provide to the merchant for billing will match the name and address on file for the card. Once you have registered your card, you can use it online just like you would use a regular credit card.

If your information (name and address) has changed since you registered your Visa gift card, call the card issuer or go online and update your information before you use the card online.

Check the balance on Visa gift cardΒ or American Express gift card balance. Gift Card Balance Now also allows you to check gift card balance to over 500 merchants.


How to split payment between a gift card and another form of payment.


Gift Card Fees – The gift that keeps on taking


  1. Amber

    Thank you for this information!!!! VERY helpful.

  2. p

    where on the american express website does one register so that the gift card may be used for online purchases?

  3. zelalem

    I bought a visa debit card for some online payments through my brother living in the US since there is no a credit card marketing here in my country,Ethiopia.But Icouldn,t make use of it.I tried it two times and was rejected.

  4. Most online merchants won’t require you to register your card, but some will. American Express cards are the worst, go with Visa if you ever get one for someone.

  5. shawn

    if a gift card you buy at target is only worth 100 do you add money, if the thing you want to buy is more than 100 dollars.or can you use 2 gift cards online

  6. Eddie

    I just called up American Express and registered my card.

    It wasn’t an easy process, but the first step after calling the automated system is entering your card number.

    From the main menu, select the number “0” every time the spoken menu begins again. They will then transfer you to a CS Rep. They should have your number on file.

    I get the feeling that this is an overseas call center. I have a few suggestions to make things run more smoothly:

    1. Be nice. They probably screen an inordinate number of unhappy callers every day, and you’ll finish faster if you have a pleasant, polite demeanor.

    2. Have your card and registration address ready.

    3. Use the international aviation alphabet. It will make sure that no typos appear, and you will be able to properly use your card. It’s international for a reason. Here’s a link.

    This saved me from a few typos in my registration.

    Hope this helps!

  7. jodie

    i live in the uk and was given a american express gift card. where can i use it or can i use it on a american online site?

  8. James

    I work at a store and when a person uses an amex gift card the name that comes up on the receipt is A GIFT FOR YOU. So when i tried to use it i just typed that in and it worked. Just put A GIFT FOR YOU as the name

  9. and what does that mean?????

  10. I don’t understand!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Would you please tell me what the error is??????

  12. Dustin

    I finally got intouch with AMEX and if you call the number on the back of the card they will make sure that the card is active (takes upto 70mins) and they will register the card in your name. You must call them to do this, there is not a website to register. Now I can finally pay my bills online.

  13. Philine

    With Visa and Mastercard prepaid debit cards, you will have to go to their website get it activated by filling out a form wait a few seconds and you’re ready to shop online (yes you can actually shop online with a prepaid debit card; but make sure you have the full amount otherwise your purchase will be rejected). At retail stores you won’t need to active the card since the card is normally swiped with the little black strip that is located at the back of the card. I thought about using a CVS or Walmart gift card prepaid loaded with 50 dollars to get a Visa or MasterCard prepaid so I can purchase something over the internet. It may work, or at least I hope it will.

  14. Alex

    I was not able to change my account information online at American because you need an account and I do not have an account, just a gift card.

  15. bobo

    Alex, u must call the number on the back of ur american express gift card, and have a amex rep do it for you over the phone. The only thing u can do if u have a gift card that is american express is that the american express web site will check the gift cards balance, u must call them live to give them ur name and address, hope this helped u. I had to do that very thing to cover my tracks because I ordered online with my almost expired amex card, so i called them to make sure that my mailing and name would show up on the merchants end when they checked the card number.

  16. Deo

    Well i have a visa gift card and i tried to register it on but when i press register it doesnt do anything.

  17. vanilla visa says in its cardholder agreement that you can register your name and address at so that you can use their cards to make online purchases, but there is NO WAY to register this information at their site. The only thing you can enter is ZIPCODE.


    These are terrible cards!

  18. Karen

    Don’t go American Express!! So many places can not accept it! Take notice of all the gas stations and grocery stores that DO NOT

  19. Karen

    Do not go with American Express.!!! So many places do not accept. Take notice of how many gas stations and grocery stores that do not have those on their list. I work in a grocery store and our machine will not accept American Express or Discover Cards.

  20. Richard

    I bought a 100 dollar vanilla visa gift card from walgreens to buy stuff from amazon but since purchase date its been pending for 4 days. I also bought an amazon gift card and combined it with the vanilla card. My order has been pending for 4 days and on the fith 1/3 of my order has been shipped. I still have 2 more orders pending. Also all they require for REGISTERING is the DAMN ZIP CODE, WTF. VanillaVisa IS a load of BS.

    Anyone have any cards that work online? Im thinking AmericanExpress.

  21. Vicky

    For American Express prepaid cards – you must call in order to register a name with your gift card. (A name is usually required to make online transactions) After you enter your card number & security number, then keep on pressing ZERO so they transfer you to a representative. They will take care of the rest! πŸ™‚

  22. Haley

    the guy I talked to was indian.

  23. Fernando

    For the American Express Gift Cards you have to call, if the number on the back doesnt work, try putting a 1 in front of it. Do not do what the other person said and press 0 the whole time, a automated message will say that the number selected is not a valid option. So listen to the whole thing, and you will end up being asked if you would like to speak to a representative, NOW push 0. Be polite, and speak slowely, ask them to repeat what you said, and to spell it out to you. At the end say thank you, and say have a nice day, remember these people have to deal with hundreds of people a day!

    Hope i helped =]

  24. Jesse

    Just for some added flavor- I got an amex “celebrate” gift card as a gift and I had to jump through some hops to register it. First, I called the number on the back of the card for a balance check. After entering the card info at the prompt, I listened to all of the options (none of them allow you to hit ‘0’ for the operator) then, after not selecting an option on the first prompt, I waited and then hit ‘0’. I was then told it was an invalid option, and that I would be transferred to a representative. From there the person was able to register my card. It took me a few tries to get transfered for some reason, but that ended up working. Hope that helps:/

  25. Sam

    Just go with Mastercard’s gift cards. They don’t have to be registered before using them on-line… at least I haven’t had to register one yet. I’m not sure if Amazon accepts them because I tried there once and it didn’t go through, so I just found somewhere else chearper. lol

  26. i cant buy anything online and i went to the website above and cant find the section where i have to enter my birth date, adress and other stuff. pls help me…im lost

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  28. Alyssa

    just used my vanilla visa to purchase something online.
    for the card holder name i just put: A GIFT FOR YOU
    and it worked! πŸ™‚

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  31. Kristen

    American express is definetly a NO! i have one and one person said to use A GIFT FOR YOU as the name, but it doesnt work. im trying to buy clothes online from target and i dont feel like sitting up on the phone with the company!

  32. You don't need to know

    I’m thinking the same thing. Mine won’t even register with I don’t know if it is the first day i got it, and it needs 24 hours before it can activate, or there’s something wrong with my card. But this card really is bull.

  33. Just tried to use A GIFT FOR YOU in the name spot on’s site for a purchase using AMEX gift card – looks like it worked!

  34. Fiona

    With American express just write your name as A GIFT FOR YOU and it worked.i didn’t register my card and I just booked a hotel with agoda. The cvc code is the 4 digit number on top of all the numbers on the front of your card too not the back. Complicated but it worked.

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