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I have some small balance prepaid balance cards, mainly from rebates.  One easy way to get rid of the balances was to make purchases at WalMart (greater than the card value), and the terminal would automatically only debit the available balance on each card.  I recently tried to do this and it didn't work, because WalMart only attempted to authorize the entire purchase at once, which failed. 

Visa calls this service "Visa Partial Authorization with Balance Return."  WalMart used to use it, but apparently not any more (or perhaps only at some stores). Note that it only works if processed over the Visa network, not over the online debit networks (e.g. Pulse, Nyce, Star).

I used the old method of just buying gift cards to drain the balance before the expiration date, but I found the Partial Authorization to be very useful, as you could get rid of a stack of cards quickly, without worrying about how much change was on each card.  The terminal just authorized only the remaining balance on the cards until the total purchase amount was satisfied.

Has anyone else has Partial Authorization work recently, at WalMart or elsewhere?  Mastercard also has an equivalent.  

UPDATE: WalMart steers debit cards to PINless debit, bypassing the Visa network and its Partial Authorization capability).

 

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Interesting. In the past, it Partial Authorization worked WalMart too.  Perhaps Giant Eagle uses a different online debi... (more)

NEDeals (Sep. 08, 2016 @ 1:21p) |

Thanks for the tip.  Giant Eagle worked to drain VGC's using the debit PIN.  I did find out they have a hard limit of 5 ... (more)

s3riously (Sep. 08, 2016 @ 8:30p) |

I realize the thread is primarily about debit, but do Amex GCs still auto drain ? I never had to bother with it when I h... (more)

Izarus (Sep. 12, 2016 @ 1:55p) |

UPDATE: WalMart steers debit cards to PINless debit, bypassing the Visa network and its Partial Authorization capability)


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IF you know the remaining balance, many places will ring that amount as your payment ... then tell you that you still owe $xx.xx
That requires a human .. not anything automated.
I was not aware of any special Visa/MC feature you mention.

I was able to do something similar with BJ's -- the $25 gift card they gave me worked like that.

That's the same as my experience at WalMart and most other stores. Target used to drain the balance automatically, but not anymore.

Go through the website/automated telephone maze on the back of the card to derive the balance, put it on a small sticky note on the card, and burn through like 5 or 6 at a time (some stores have limits). Or if they're above $1.00, send an Amazon gift card to yourself.

Mcdonalds still does this. Of course you have to eat mcDonalds. But FWIW they'll even authorize very small amounts (like the 30 cents you have left on a card).

I just used a Staples Visa rebate card at Home Depot and it automatically took the rest of the rebate card off the total.

Just purchase a grocery store gift card for the amount left. Or next time, purchase the gc as soon as you get the rebate.

Make sure that the card is being processed as a CC, not debit -- debit will not auto drain.

kmsandrbs said:   I just used a Staples Visa rebate card at Home Depot and it automatically took the rest of the rebate card off the total.
yes, HD does it. and also kroger and meijer grocery stores. costco also does it.

Square Register and Chase Mobile Checkout do.

Target and WalMart were always good for this. I guess the switchover to chip-based readers cost us the ability to do this.

Safeway and some other grocery stores do this. I typically use self-checkout to drain a bunch of cards with small values.

NEDeals said:   

Has anyone else has Partial Authorization work recently, at WalMart or elsewhere?  Mastercard also has an equivalent.  

 

  It all depends on the combination of retailer and prepaid card issuer - not Visa or Mastercard, but the actual bank issuing the card.  There is no standard - what works with one card at one retailer, may not work with another card at the same retailer or with the same card at a different retailer.

Rebate cards became a whole lot easier for me once I started cashing them in immediately with my internet provider. Both of the ones I've used allowed charging very small amounts to use them up, but since then I just drain the whole thing immediately on those accounts. Try your cable, dsl, cell, or any other monthly bill that takes credit cards. If they allow ongoing payments of arbitrary amounts, it's very quick and easy to use up prepaid credits.

I also use my rebate cards to pay my Verizon bill.... except that I found that the act of entering the rebate card number into Verizon puts a $1 authorization hold on the card, meaning that if I try to use a $25 card to make a $25 payment on Verizon's website, it will fail. So now I go through the following dance routine:
1. Authorize a payment to Verizon for $1 less than the face value of the card.
2. Wait 1 week for the $1 authorization to drop off
3. Buy a $1 Amazon gift card (Amazon does not do the pre-authorization thing.)

You may ask: Why not simply buy a giftcard at Amazon for the full amount up front? Reason is with the current (and next quarter's) 5% back on Amazon using Discover, I'd rather not lose the 5% cashback. (I'm ok with losing the $0.05 on the $1 gift card I purchased.)

Upon further investigation, the reason it did not work at WalMart is because WalMart now steers debit transactions to the PIN networks (PINless Debit), even if you press the so-called "Credit" button.  Partial Authorization only works on the mainline Visa/Mastercard brand networks.

The issuers and network support Partial Authorization on Visa/Mastercard, and merchants may be required to in the merchant agreements.

I know there are other ways to drain cards, but was curious about Partial Authorization

Two of the three supermarkets I regularly shop at handle this automatically (Ralphs and Stater Bros.). It didn't work at SuperKing, and the cashier seemed clueless about how to just charge the value left on the card. It was a Staples rebate card if that makes a difference.

JW10 said:   IF you know the remaining balance, many places will ring that amount as your payment ... then tell you that you still owe $xx.xx
That requires a human .. not anything automated.
I was not aware of any special Visa/MC feature you mention.

  
The beauty of Partial Authorization is you can make one purchase at a store and drain a bunch of odd value debit cards up to the purchase amount, without needing to know or enter the value of each card, and without fooling around buying gift cards to use in yet another transaction. 

In the southeast  Publix Supermarkets do this.    I makes it easy to drain cards with just a few dollars or cents left.
 

Kroger affiliates do this.

BJs Gas pumps do that as well. I'll sometimes drain a bunch of smaller value cards that way (I'd avoid doing it if there is a line for gas). I've found Wegmans and other grocery stores will do it as well, particularly nice if they have the self checkout.

Most grocery stores can take CC gift cards with partial balance. I typically buy Amazon, eBay and gas gift cards. For stores with gas/rewards programs, there can be an extra bonus.

Whenever I get a prepaid CC I just use it to buy an Amazon gift card (on Amazon itself). Super simple.

puck71 said:   Whenever I get a prepaid CC I just use it to buy an Amazon gift card (on Amazon itself). Super simple.
  
That's great, but a completely different scenario than partial authorization.  Partial Authorization means that the merchant terminal can determine how much value a prepaid card has and only debit the purchase for that amount, even if the total purchase is higher. 

novocane said:   Most grocery stores can take CC gift cards with partial balance. I typically buy AmazoneBay and gas gift cards. For stores with gas/rewards programs, there can be an extra bonus.
  
I only drain prepaid cards at stores where I'd only get the minimum 2% cash back if I used a credit card. This eliminates grocery stores, Amazon, gas, and others depending on what the Chase/Discover categories are.

The reason you won't find some retailers allowing this is because if the consumer assumed they had enough to cover the entire cost of the sale and it doesn't , it can be a pain for the retailer and consumer to either cancel the sale or find another form of payment.

Wallgreens and CVS do partial authorization as well. Staples does it as well.

valvo23 said:   The reason you won't find some retailers allowing this is because if the consumer assumed they had enough to cover the entire cost of the sale and it doesn't , it can be a pain for the retailer and consumer to either cancel the sale or find another form of payment.
  
I think you missed the point of partial authorization or what it entails. 

valvo23 said:   The reason you won't find some retailers allowing this is because if the consumer assumed they had enough to cover the entire cost of the sale and it doesn't , it can be a pain for the retailer and consumer to either cancel the sale or find another form of payment.
  I disagree.  Retailers will prefer to let the customer put back 20% of the items than put back 100% of the items.

SlimTim said:   Rebate cards became a whole lot easier for me once I started cashing them in immediately with my internet provider. Both of the ones I've used allowed charging very small amounts to use them up, but since then I just drain the whole thing immediately on those accounts. Try your cable, dsl, cell, or any other monthly bill that takes credit cards. If they allow ongoing payments of arbitrary amounts, it's very quick and easy to use up prepaid credits.
This is definitely the easiest way. My electric bill currently has a negative balance because of this.

One of the things I still want to figure out how to do is how to run a negative balance on prepaid gift cards. I've done it a couple times accidentally by using prepaid visa cards at bars, then when I check the balance the next day I've gotten up to -$35. Never register the cards so I doubt that they can ever come after me, I'm just curious what I'm doing to get $35 of stuff that the gift card company is paying for...

Buy lots of booze and snacks on United Airlines.

The problem with this plan is... you have to fly United Airlines.

mwa423 said:   One of the things I still want to figure out how to do is how to run a negative balance on prepaid gift cards. I've done it a couple times accidentally by using prepaid visa cards at bars, then when I check the balance the next day I've gotten up to -$35. Never register the cards so I doubt that they can ever come after me, I'm just curious what I'm doing to get $35 of stuff that the gift card company is paying for...
  It's the tip.  With a $100 balance, you charge $95 and then add a $20 tip to the receipt.  The bar then "adjusts" the ticket to $115.  However, a couple weeks later the bar gets a chargeback for the extra $15, the gift card company is not paying for it.  Yes, this is first hand experience from a controlled experiment done for exactly this purpose.

Most restaurants will authorize an amount higher than the bill to allow for a tip. If the final amount is within the authorized amount, the merchant is guaranteed payment. If it is higher, than all bets are off.

NEDeals said:   Upon further investigation, the reason it did not work at WalMart is because WalMart now steers debit transactions to the PIN networks (PINless Debit), even if you press the so-called "Credit" button.  Partial Authorization only works on the mainline Visa/Mastercard brand networks.


That's not right. My grocery store (Giant Eagle) drains VGCs for remaining value when I use pin debit to buy money orders. Maybe it's called something else but the functionality is there.

bppcomplete said:   
NEDeals said:   Upon further investigation, the reason it did not work at WalMart is because WalMart now steers debit transactions to the PIN networks (PINless Debit), even if you press the so-called "Credit" button.  Partial Authorization only works on the mainline Visa/Mastercard brand networks.

 


That's not right. My grocery store (Giant Eagle) drains VGCs for remaining value when I use pin debit to buy money orders. Maybe it's called something else but the functionality is there.

  
Interesting. In the past, it Partial Authorization worked WalMart too.  Perhaps Giant Eagle uses a different online debit network than my WalMart did.  The major online debit networks are consolidated to NYCE, STAR, Pulse, and Visa's Interlink.

bppcomplete said:   
NEDeals said:   Upon further investigation, the reason it did not work at WalMart is because WalMart now steers debit transactions to the PIN networks (PINless Debit), even if you press the so-called "Credit" button.  Partial Authorization only works on the mainline Visa/Mastercard brand networks.

 


That's not right. My grocery store (Giant Eagle) drains VGCs for remaining value when I use pin debit to buy money orders. Maybe it's called something else but the functionality is there.

  Thanks for the tip.  Giant Eagle worked to drain VGC's using the debit PIN.  I did find out they have a hard limit of 5 partial payments before the system locks up and alerts the staff to come help.

I realize the thread is primarily about debit, but do Amex GCs still auto drain ? I never had to bother with it when I had my BB, and the customer service voice menu says you have to swipe the remainder card first and the Amex GC last. I thought you could just swipe the Amex GC, it would auto drain, then pay the remainder with another card.



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