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Using Visa or American Express Gift Cards on Paypal

This post explains how to use Visa or Amex gift cards on paypal and the challenges that come with that. Also check below for our most popular Visa Prepaid Gift Cards that allow you to shop online, pay bills, and get money at ATMs.

One of the most popular gift card questions online is whether one can link prepaid gift cards like the Visa gift card to a PayPal account. The short answer is Yes and No.

Now, the long answer: Yes, it is possible to link a prepaid gift card like the Visa or American Express gift card to a PayPal account but for this to happen, you need to pray and hope that PayPal does not require you to go through their Expanded Use verification process. To better understand why, you first need to be familiar with the process for linking a credit card to a PayPal account. When you link your credit card to a PayPal account, PayPal will attempt to confirm your address with your credit card company. If the credit card company is not able to confirm your address, then you may be asked by PayPal to complete their Expanded Use enrollment process in order to activate your credit card.

Expanded Use verification means PayPal will charge your credit card a small about. Next to the charge will be a unique, randomly generated 4-digit Expanded Use code. If you have online access to your credit card activity, the charge and code will appear on your card activity in approximately 2-4 business days. If you do not have online access, you must wait until you receive your statement in the mail to get the 4-digit code. If you are adding a debit card to your PayPal account, your 4-digit Expanded Use code will be printed on your bank statement next to the charge.

Once you get the 4-digit code, you have to return to your PayPal account to enter the code per instructions from PayPal. Once completed, and PayPal confirms that you entered the correct code, you will now be able to use the card for PayPal transactions. The Expanded Use verification process is designed to protect you against fraud by verifying that the person attempting to use the credit card actually owns the card. PayPal will later credit the amount charged to your card to your PayPal account.

Now, here lies the problem with using prepaid or bank issued gift cards. If PayPal is unable to verify your address with the gift card issuer, then you may be asked to go through the Expanded Use process. Since most prepaid gift cards do not issue monthly statements or provide online access to gift card transactions, it will be impossible to complete the Expanded Use process. Also, it is not a good idea to call the credit card or gift card issuer to get the 4-digit Expanded Use code. If PayPal receives a complaint from your card issuer that you called them to get the 4-digit code, PayPal will close your account permanently.

So, the first step to attempting to use a prepaid gift card on PayPal is to make sure the name and address (billing address) on your PayPal account matches the name and address on file with the gift card issuer. If you just purchased your prepaid gift card, call the card issuer and add your name and address to the card. If your information (name and address) has changed since you registered your card, call the card issuer or go online and update your information before you use the card on PayPal.

Once this is done, you just have to hope that PayPal is able to successfully verify your address with the gift card issuer. If they are able to verify your address, then you are all set. If they cannot verify your address with the card issuer, then you probably will not be able to use that gift card on PayPal.

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  1. This is a well written post, however, I think that it doesn’t need to be so complex ;-). Gift cards don’t have addresses assigned to them; at least not that the end user would know. Users should not expect to attach a gift card to any mechanism that requires an address. Customers, however, can attach prepaid debit cards to these type of accounts with no problems.


  2. In general, yes, you can get the expuse using a prepaid card. As long as your card can view transactions, it is possible.

    I’m not sure if I can say the same for Amex users (but that’s because I never bought one from them) but I can say for sure that it will work with a Vanilla Mastercard or Vanilla Visa.

  3. Being that I’m not much of an expert, I am sharing my experience and my response to your post. You said that there is no way to get an expuse using a prepaid card, I say there is a way.

    Of course, you’re talking about the bank-issued gift cards, and I am talking about store-issued gift cards. Two different things…

    It’s not necessarily that you’re feeding the wrong information, but more of “not being accurate”. Than again, I didn’t even read the post (besides a couple of sentences) and only read the generalization you made that you can’t verify Paypal using prepaid cards.

    I apologize if I sounded like I was being unfair. If you read my other post, I’m a silly person and this is nothing personal at all. I never visited your blog before, and that was my first time. 🙂 I should be more careful of what I write in the future. Would you like for me to remove this post?

    Thanks for the comment.

    …Oh Jesus. Look at me talking like I’m grown… LOL!

  4. Edit: “Would you like for me to remove THAT post?”

    Trust me when I say that you’re more of an expert than I am. I’m a very impulsive person, and to tell you the truth, I don’t even know if it applies to all card. That’s why I wrote “Vanilla Mastercard” and “Vanilla Visa”.

    Again, it was nothing personal.

  5. GiftCardBlogger™

    Jenny, I did not take it personal. I just wanted to clarify my post. Actually, it is nice to see that someone has figured a way to link a prepaid card to paypal. I am going to write a post about it and link to your post.

  6. Unfortunately, my host sucks, and they “accidentally restored” my website to how it was in January. The post is gone. 🙁

  7. GiftCardBlogger™

    Jenny, sorry to hear that 🙁

  8. eric

    so to check my statement…is that the same as checking my gift card balance because that’s the only way i can really check anything online. I’m using amex

  9. Horace

    ok so when i buy a prepaid American Express Gift Card… I need to find the gift card issuer…

    where can i find the gift card issuer?
    where would the information be. (im looking for their phone number or etc.)

    for example… if i buy it at CVS…. can the cashier put in my name and address?

  10. Beena

    Yeah i screwed up….i don’t know how to use paypal its super complicating!! And i got a american express gift card, because i don’t want to put my actual bank account info on there. So i shoulda read into it more i guess….i thought using a gift card would be the same like a credit card guess not…. so yeah paypal charged a dollar off my gift card and i can’t even activate the fricken thing to use it for what I wanted so whatever screw it….i got so frustrated trying to set up a paypal the other day i literally had to get up and walk away from the computer….its doesn’t make any sense…and this fine print…gift cards not working bs makes it even more of a headache

  11. Greg Patrick

    Just for information. The Vanilla Visa gift card do have problems being used online. However, Simon Mall giftcard can be used online, you purchase it at a Simon mall with cash and you register it online. If you cant register it online, call customer service up. They will put the correct address on. Also, some banks sell mastercard/visa gift cards and they enter your address for you.

  12. Rorroh

    I had the mistake of purchasing AmEx gift cards. Before you try to get it onto a PayPal, be sure to call them (1-877-297-4438) and talk to customer service. I ended up checking my balance first (under the “more options” submenu) before getting to the customer service option, and doing so makes it a little easier later on, as you dial your number rather than speaking it. The customer service representative was a very nice lady, and she helped me through the process of registering my THREE cards with absolutely no problems whatsoever, probably saving my opinion of American Express.

  13. daily boogie

    y’all gotta chill and get american express bank issued gift cards they are the best, and u dont even have to goto a bank to get them, but it must be the card with a brown gift box with a matching bow appearing on it, american express logo at the bottom right side of the card, these vanillas and green dots are not bank issued they are just using the card companies name like an outsourcer, use the real deal and not some fake junk.

  14. Yes, you are very much right, you cannot open a PayPal account for Charity, if your charity is registered in India, same thing happened with me also, I applied a Charity account for my client and after completing all the formalities they just denied for the account.
    I have a suggestion for you, apply for a normal account with some other website and then use it for your Charity website, I have list of websites who are doing the same thing.
    You can also try some other Payment Gateways like CCavenue, but in case you are using Vbulletin script, I don’t think so that it may help you. The first suggestion may work for you.

  15. Ian

    Ok, when I try to link my Vanilla Visa to PayPal, it says this: “Your credit or debit card has not been added since your card issuer does not allow checking the card’s billing address. Please enter a different card number. If you have further questions, please contact the business that issued your card.” Any help please, because it worked last time

  16. paul

    It will let you add the gift cards but not authorize any transactions using them. I added 3 amex ($500) gift cards to my paypal account and then verified them with the transaction codes but every time I tried to send money or make a purchase it was a flagged as a “risky” transaction and was asked to add a back account or use a moneypak.

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