Buying Visa Gift Cards from GiftCardMall – My Recent Experience & Why it is a Great Option for MS

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Visa Gift Cards from GiftCardMall
The six Visa gift cards came together in the Priority Mail envelope while the activation codes came in a separate envelope.

Buying Visa Gift Cards from GiftCardMall

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why GiftCardMall is a viable option for manufacturing spend now that portal cashback has returned. I hadn’t made a purchase of Visas on GiftCardMall for nearly a year, so last week I decided it was time to do it once again. I had a $3k minimum spend to hit on a credit card, so I decided to get it over with in one chunk.

The Purchase & Which Card Design

Visa Gift Cards from GiftCardMall
The words “Gift Card Recipient” are replaced with your personalized name when you place the order.

To purchase the Visa gift cards I reached GiftCardMall through the Top Cashback portal. As of the time of publishing, I believe Top Cashback’s rate of .5% is the best available.

Once on the GiftCardMall site, I purchased 6 x $500 rubber ducky gift cards. In addition to liking the rubber ducky design, it doesn’t have the word gift card on it. Since these cards come personalized, there is no reason for anyone to think this isn’t a normal debit card.

There are a number of different card designs like the rubber ducky that don’t say gift card on them. I would try to stick with those and I feel it is a good idea to avoid designs that invoke the image of a gift. Designs that have presents, candles or cake probably aren’t good. There are a number of generic designs with pictures of golf, nature, paintings, etc. that work well.

Quantity & Shipping

As I mentioned in my previous post, the sweet spot for purchasing these cards is six or more. That is because at that quantity, “Critical Mail” shipping is about the same price as normal shipping. The main reason to use Critical Mail is that it is trackable whereas the cheapest shipping option is not.

For my recent order of six Visa cards, I chose Critical Mail which was only $.20 total more than normal mail. All of the cards came in a Priority Mail trackable package two days after they were shipped or about six days after I placed the order. The separate envelope with the activation codes arrived at the same time.

The Math

Visa Gift Cards from GiftCardMall

My initial cost of the 6 x $500 rubber ducky personalized Visa gift cards was $3042.54. GiftCardMall pays the .5% cashback based on the face value of the cards, so my total cashback for the purchase was $15. Thankfully I received a confirmation from Top Cashback within about two hours!

Here is my cost:

  • Initial cost: $3042.54
  • Cashback: -$15
  • Total cost: $3027.54
  • Cost per $500 card: $4.59
  • Cost percentage: .009


As you can see, the fee for these cards works out to be less than 1%. The only places I know of that sell $500 Visa gift cards for less are malls. While I love my local Simon mall, each visit takes at least an hour and it can be quite the process which includes paperwork, a manager and angry customers behind me.

There are two other advantages to buying Visa gift cards from GiftCardMall. First, you don’t have to deal with surly cashiers or nosy ones who wonder why you are purchasing so many gift cards. Finally, these cards come personalized with your name on them which makes liquidating them much easier.

Visa Gift Cards from GiftCardMall
My cashback transaction posted within a couple of hours.


There are definitely a couple of disadvantages as well. It can take GiftCardMall a few days to process your order. They also have a fraud system in place that can stop your order if they suspect something is wrong. I have never had issues, but GiftCardMall did call me to verify my new address (I have moved since I placed my last order).

The other disadvantage is the mail. Some people don’t feel comfortable having thousands of dollars in gift cards sent through the mail. I have never heard of anyone having issues and I feel safe enough with the tracking information provided.


Visa gift cards purchased from GiftCardMall are issued by Metabank and can be loaded to Bluebird/Serve/REDbird by using the last four digits of the card number as the pin. They can also be liquidated in a variety of other ways. For more info, see How To Liquidate Prepaid Visa & Mastercard Gift Cards.


My return to GiftCardMall has been successful! I was able to instantly hit my minimum spend on a credit card without having to leave the house. With low fees and personalized cards, I still feel this method is very good and plan to add it to my arsenal going forward.

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Shawn Coomer
Since 2007 Shawn Coomer has been circling the globe with his family for pennies on the dollar. He uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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  1. It seems that Giftcardmall is no longer selling metabank cards and it’s not only up to $250 vs. the usual $500.
    Cards are now issued by Sunrise bank. Do you know if SUnrise cards can be loaded at walmart kiosks to BB?

  2. I’ve recently made a purchase where gcm returns me with a form to fill for ferderal regulation on the qunaities i’ve ordered at 10k purchase …. what is the maximum I could purchase w/o raising their flag with a form to fill up?

  3. I tried buying VGC on Giftcardmall using the topcashback portal. The first thing TCB asked me was for details of my bank account saying that the merchant (GCM) requires that I have bank account info with TCB. Is this normal?

  4. Thanks for replying Shawn, no worries. Kindly explain the sticker trick/option, in more details. What sticker/where to get it from? And should it cover “Gift card” or just ‘Gift”. Can you specify with pics/details like you have fantastically explain everything else here? Thanks a lot, in advance.

  5. Mr Shawn Please reply ASAP. Repeating the question again for you. Thanks in advance.

    So if the Duck or any VGC comes with ‘Gift Card’ mentioned on the card itself, would it be a problem to load the Redcard at Target store with this VGC as a Debit card (despite it showing Gift card written on it)??

    • Sorry for the delay in responding. The answer is it depends on the store. Some stores do not allow gift cards as a policy while others have no problem with it. In some stores it even depends on the cashier. One good solution that others have mentioned is to simply put a small sticker over the word gift.

  6. Shawn, So if the Duck or any VGC comes with ‘Gift Card’ mentioned on the card itself, would it be a problem to load the Redcard at Target store with this VGC as a Debit card (despite it showing Gift card written on it)??

    Any comments/suggestions/ideas?????????????

  7. I bought 4X$500 giftcard yesterday and received cancellation email as well. I just called CS, and operator told me that the bank did not let it go thru. Then I called barclay( I used us airways cc) and rep told me that that transaction was approved but merchant reversed today. what is wrong with GCM? I am a return customer. I bought $300 giftcard in May. I think I would just buy gift card at Target.

  8. I also got my duckie Visas with the word ‘Gift’ in black on the left top corner which kind of defeats the purpose of having your name instead of ‘Giftcard recipient’. I would them and find out why the design on their website does not mention anything about it

  9. I followed all same instructions to buy 6 VGC of $500 each, but GCM cancelled my order next day. Did not call me or anything, just sent me an email that they could not verify something……… courtesy to call.

    what is this crap? So buying 6 at time is not an option?

    Any idea/suggestions?

    • Same thing here. I just reordered 4x$500 gift card this morning with different email/name and got cancellation letter even faster, 1 hour after placing order.

  10. I just followed your method to purchase 6 giftcards of $500 each (duck photo ones).

    Placed my order yesterday, had it approved by the american express credit card i was using to purchase it, and to my utter shock, got an email from giftcardmall that order was cancelled as they could not verify some information.

    stupid company did not have courtesy to call me or tell me what the f#$*ng reason was to cancel my order.

    Do you knoW what could have gone wrong as all information was correct and the transaction for the 6 $500 giftcards was approved by my american express credit card, with all information matching on the example you have displayed above.

    Maybe it was bigorder for me to place for my very 1st purchase at giftcardmall? Or something else?

    Any idea/clue, about what could have happened, and what to do now?

    Thanks in advance, and please reply ASAP

    • They have strict fraud protections. I am not sure what would cause this. Some people have had success placing an order for one card first to establish the relationship and then ordering more cards later.

  11. Does anybody know of any good cards without “GIFT” written anywhere on it? It seems like Duck and Boat designs are out.

  12. Do you know whether Citi premier card would post the GC purchase from this giftcardmall as a purchase not as cash advance?

      • How come my posts are not posting here?

        Also i ordered 6 GC’s of $500 each just like you have outlines but my order got cancelled. No call or email by them? any idea/suggestions of why/what to do?

        Also i heard duck gc’s have giftcard written on it……… what now?

  13. FYI: Just received my six duck cards, and “Gift” is written in the top left-hand corner in black letters, even though it’s not there on the design.

    • This happened to me, too. I didn’t say gift in the picture, but its in huge letters on the card. I got them, set the PIN and then went to buy a money order and the card kept auto processing as credit 🙁

  14. Just a heads up, I ordered a card from GCM, the one with the boat pictured on it. I chose this one because the preview of the card didn’t have the word Gift Card on it or anything similar. However when I received the card. The word “Gift” is in big letters in the top right corner in bold white font.

    Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Bait & Switch?

    Shawn, have you had anything similar happen with the rubber duck cards?


    • Have you ever received cashback from Ebates on Visa gift cards? They are excluded in the terms: “Cash Back is not available on gift cards for Hess Gasoline, Gulf, Safeway, BP, or Best Buy; or on Visa gift card, Visa purchase Fee, Customization Fee, Shipping Cost, or Tax. “

      • This was my first time. I’ll report back as to when and if it shows up. In the meantime, maybe you should post an update to the readers on that new $2 per card charge? might change the attractiveness of this method.

        • Terri that fee has always been there. The current cost to purchase 6 cards is $3042.54 which is the same as in the post. The fee was there all along, but instead of complicating things, I simply quoted the overall shipping charge which includes the $2 fee per card.

      • I’ve been all over the ebates site and do not locate the language you’ve cited. Can you link it? I just went through the ebates terms section twice…

        GCM cancelled my purchase due to suspected fraud, then called to talk to me about it and ok’ed me to enter the order again, so I will….ugh.

  15. CVS and Walgreens in my area won’t allow VGC to be purchased with AGC. Is there any tried and true method still available for making that kind of purchase? The goal is to double dip by using cashback CC and TCB portal to get a combined 3% on AGC to help offset the fees and shipping but now I’m having trouble with finding a way to liquidate AGC into VGC.

  16. you are obviously a churner to the credit card companies when you buy from a place with the words “gift card”.

    Isn’t it safer to buy from a grocery store or the like or can they see exactly what is on the receipt no matter where you buy?

    • It depends on the store, but for some merchants they can see what is on the receipt. Everything works in moderation and gift card mall sells hundreds of merchant gift cards as well. The gift card business is huge money for all involved and the credit card companies are involved with that as well.

      • “It depends on the store, but for some merchants they can see what is on the receipt.”

        A post on this topic would be very interesting. Love the blog. Bookmarked. Thanks Shawn.

  17. I seem to remember reading somewhere that GiftCardMall was coded as an office supply store for Chase Ink cards meaning 5x points. Does that sound right, or can anyone confirm?

  18. I am new at M$ and have never done it before. After I get my 6 VGC’s from GCM, how many can I load at one visit to Walmart to Serve?

    • The limits are $1k per transaction, $2.5k per day and $5k per month. The simplest thing to do would be to load $500 per transaction. Since there is a limit of $2,500 per day you couldn’t do all of them in one day. Perhaps you could do $1,500 one day and then $1,500 the next in 3 $500 loads per day.

      • Thanks for the info and writeup Shawn! I just ordered a $500 card to test the process with. The fees are too high to buy one at a time, but I thought it would be best to test this before jumping in the deep end. This seems like a good option for loading the Redcard, or meeting min spending.

  19. Thanks for sharing. Just purchased $3000 just as you said. Such a disappointment with RedCard this week. This will help to MS!!!

    Fellow Southern Nevadan

  20. GCM is relatively cost effective with the portal cash back now back at TCB. It can be useful for meeting minimum spend requirements but for people that MS in a large volume GCM asks a lot of questions. GCM requires ID verification for large purchases. Which makes sense as an AML policy. From experience if GCM thinks that an individual has a few large transactions they will look at any other purchases that you have made and look at how you used your VISA cards. If you happen to use the gift cards all at once they may restrict your ability to use their website. All at once meaning one purchase for $500.

  21. Thanks for the post! Redbird drew me into the world of MS and now I got hooked on easily meeting min spend requirements for my wife and I every 31 days. I may try this out for the Ink Plus with its increased bonus and high min spend.

  22. This is a good idea. I have a new AMEX platinum business card that I need to meet a large minimum spend. Many of the grocery stores nearby are no longing allowing the visa gcs to be purchased with a credit card. I haven’t found a drug store that allows it anymore.

  23. One can buy $500 VGC from walgreens with credit card and $4.95 fee. So, total would come out roughly the same.
    Plus you can get 5x back with certain cards as walgreens is a drugstore. So, isn’t buying GC from walgreens a better deal?

    • If you have a card that earns 5x at drugstores then of course Walgreens is a better deal. If you don’t, then I don’t think it is a better deal. The gift cards are Walgreens are Vanilla branded and don’t work at Walmart for loads over $50. They also end up costing more and aren’t personalized.

      I never said this is the best way to MS and it certainly isn’t the only way that I MS, but it is a super easy way to hit a minimum spend on a card and it is cheaper than most other options including Walgreens.

      There is no perfect solution or perfect answer. Everyone has different goals, cards and desires. I hope this clarifies my position a little bit more. In my case, being able to hit my minimum spending requirement in one shot while sitting at home made this deal worth it! (Also no drug store in my area allows you to purchase Visa/MC gift cards with a credit card anymore unfortunately.)

      Thanks Hemang.

  24. Thanks for this! I don’t mind keeping my RedBird cards but I don’t like having to drive around looking for which office supply store had the cards I needed. Now I can get them delivered right to my door!

  25. Hi Shawn,

    Is there a difference between VISA and MC gift cards when loading prepaid REDcard, particularly when it comes to Vanilla GCs? I notice that most people mention/prefer Vanilla VISAs over MCs. I was looking to purchase Vanilla GCs soon and found only MCs available in the amount I wanted ($200s). Thank you!

    • I have not ever purchased a Vanilla Mastercard. I do know that listings for them on sites like Sam’s Club and Walmart specifically state they do not have a pin. This may or may not be correct. I have done U.S. Bank Mastercards which should work fine for REDcard. Hopefully someone can chime in with their Vanilla Mastercard experiences.

      • Thanks, Shawn! You’re right — the Vanilla MCs I was looking at do not have PINs therefore purchases will need to be done using “credit”.

  26. Great piece. A quick question: Is there a way to use AGC to buy Visa Gift Cards in $500 denomination? If so, which stores and which VGC should one get? There are a dozen or so VGCs at any given stores that I have seen.

    • The policy for that varies from store to store. Sometimes even stores in the same chain will have different policies. The only real way to find out is to try at your local store to see if they allow it.

  27. Can you load these cards to Serve online since they have your name on it or will it trigger the fraud alert from Serve where you need to send pictures, etc.? Thanks!

  28. Thanks for the great info. You blog is definitely my favorite in the travel/MS niche. Quick questions:
    1. Have you had any problems with getting your UR points from purchases from GCM?
    2. Could transactions from GCM be flagged on your account for MS for potential shutdowns by the issuing bank? Thanks!

    • I have never had any issues related to buying VGCs on GiftCardMall. Anything is possible with banks, but again I have never had any issues or heard of anyone running into issues. That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen.

  29. Hi Shawn,

    Is this the alternative way to load redcard after May 6th? Have you tried to load at Target ? Thanks for your sharing.

      • That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing, Shawn.
        Other than Buying Visa Gift Cards from GiftCardMall, Do you know if the gift cards in drug store work? All the Master/Visa Gift card in my area that I can purchase by credit card has big ‘Gift Card’ logo on it. They are issued by US bank and Meta bank. Do it matter when I load at Target? what if The Cashier find this is a gift card when he/she checks the last four digits of the card like before? Thanks.

        • Some cashiers want to check ID and they certainly can deny you if you use a card without your name. Since it is a debit transaction with a pin they generally won’t check your name. If that happens it is best to just move on to another store/cashier. Both Metabank and U.S. Bank issued cards should work to load REDcard.

          • Just followed your advice and bought $200 gift card from giftcardmall with my name on it. I wrote to you before that my gift card info was stolen. $500 became $19(still under investigation now). I am still worried if I change the PIN, Can someone else steal my card info to make purchase as credit card? If this card can only be used as debit card, That would be awesome I will buy more. Thanks

  30. I noticed that some sites have a separate cash back amount for VGC vs. other gift cards. Have you ever done something like purchase safeway gift cards and then try to flip those for VGCs in the store? Seems like you could up your cash back to 2%, fees would be the same for VGCs and shipping would only be like $7 for the $3K.

    • I haven’t but that adds a lot more complexity and I have never had success using merchant gift cards to purchase Visa gift cards in any of my local stores. If you do that, I would suggest starting small to make sure it works with your local stores.

  31. So this is probably stupid, but these can be purchased with AGC, yes? Portal to AGC then Portal to GiftCardMall, to Target? I guess the question is will GCM allow split payment for a given set of gift cards? In your example I would have to drain a $2k and a $1k AGC with $42.54 going on a credit card. Go or no go or don’t know?

    • I used to do this pretty successfully, but unfortunately GCM caught on about a year ago. They will no longer allow you to use AGCs on their site. The site just blocks them.

  32. Very helpful post. Thanks! Do any credit cards treat this as a cash advance rather than a purchase? I’m wondering specifically about Citi cards.

    • I have never heard of anyone having issues with cash advance fees, but that is always a possibility in the future. It is always a good practice to lower your cash advance limit to $0. I have made purchases in the past with every major bank’s card and never had an issue. In this case I used a Chase card and it posted as a normal purchase.

  33. I have had issues getting orders to go through at GCM.

    I enter my biling info and submit, and it returns me to the same page with my information remoed.

    Any ideas what is going on?

    • Perhaps try giving them a call. It may have something to do with their fraud procedures. I would also try using incognito/private mode and/or a different browser. It could be an issue with a rogue cookie or something else like that.

  34. But you’re still just around about a point per dollar — are they any CCs that give you 2x points on these purchases (maybe the new Citi ATT card?)

    • My hope is that the new Citi AT&T card earns 3x on these purchases, but we will have to wait and see. You can always use a card like the Arrival Plus to earn 2.2% back which is a nice profit. The main good use for this is to meet minimum spending requirements with minimal effort.


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