posted: Mar. 4, 2013 @ 3:05p
Here is a list of lessons I've learned using visa gift cards, dealing with loss, fraud, and other practical matters. Hopefully, others with find this useful.
Top uses of gift cards:
-Bills, cable, gas, water, insurance (overpay when possible)
-Taxes, IRS, property tax
-Online payment systems
-Giftcard Granny and CashBack portals to stack.
-I purchase in my neighborhood grocery story, most cashiers know me by site and let me purchase a few at a time. I've only run into hassle in less affluent locations of the chain.
-When stacking is available, I'll visit several times a day.
-With the friendly cashiers I'll tell them what I do, some of them have told me they've started paying their property taxes and are very pleased.
-Square for small values~$40 a quarter.
-Gas station for values less than $1, square/AZpmts won't take less than $1.
-Az gift cards for less than $1.
-I keep every card in three stacks. used, reviewed, archived
-Used are for cards with a small residual value.
-Reviewed are cards I've drained through AZ, square or gas station.
-Archived are cards I've let sit for several months to ensure all charges have been posted. Sometimes there is a latent residual value that will pop up even on drained cards. I cut and paste the activity of the archived cards into and excel spread sheet for tax purposes.
Fraud, loss, and other buffoonery.
-I purchase regularly from a major grocery chain. I've experienced fraud once and a misplacement of $5k worth or cards.
-Someone scratched out the number of my card, and somehow drained the value after I purchased. For the fraud I called the grocery store gift card hotline (not the visa hotline). Grocery store department opened a fraud case for me and I had a replacement card within 10 days. To avoid fraud, make sure the card you purchase is in a unmarred package that is exactly like every other card on the rack.
-The loss of $5k in cards was painless. I had the receipt, I called the hotline, verified my identity and the card used. The person on the hotline did some investigation and gave me the numbers and balance, which I used to pay taxes. If I needed the physical card I would have used their case file, and my receipt to have Visa re-issue me the card.
Bottom line: keep receipts, shop at a reputable store and don't panic. Don't call visa hotline, until you've solved the problem on the grocery store end. Also the actual store won't be as helpful as the corporate hotline. I was very impressed with the customer service I got in my cases.
-The regional branch of my national chain used to send a Cash Back check, then phased that out for gasoline rewards. I have traveled to other regions and purchased gift cards from another branch and did receive the rewards check at the end of the quarter.
Registering cards for online:
-usually I do not, but many merchants require it. If the card is initially rejected, I'll then go and register it and then re-try the purchase.
-No need to register for AZ, IRS or property tax.
Purchase protection, returns, travel:
-If I purchase something I want extended warranty on, I use my regular credit card, AMEX rocks in this.
-Returns are sometimes a pain, if I've 'retired the card' sometimes I can get them to return to a different card, but often I'll have to dig in the archives to find the exact card.
-One time I got lucky at a home improvement store and they refunded nearly $500 in cash.
-For hotel, rental car, I give them typical credit card at check in and close out bill with gift card.
Please post your lessons or PM me with questions.