Gift cards have become a popular gift-giving option in recent years. According to the National Retail Federation, total gift card spending reached an estimated $160 billion in the United States in 2020. With the prevalence of gift cards, a common question that arises is how to check a gift card balance.
Look on the gift card
Many gift cards have a toll-free number, website, or store location printed directly on the card. This provides an easy way to check the balance. Simply follow the instructions provided.
For example, a Starbucks gift card may say to call 1-800-782-7282 or visit www.starbucks.com/balance. An Amazon gift card may instruct you to visit www.amazon.com/yourgiftcardbalance. A retailer-specific gift card will often include that company’s customer service phone number or website.
If the gift card does not have a phone number or website printed on it, you can bring it to the issuing store. Ask an employee at the customer service desk to check the balance for you.
Many popular gift card companies provide websites and mobile apps that allow you to check your balance online. Typically, you will need the gift card number and security code.
Here are some options:
- Visa, Mastercard, American Express – These credit card companies allow you to register and manage gift cards online. You can create an account, add your gift card, and view balances.
- Starbucks – Check your Starbucks card balance at www.starbucks.com/balance or via the Starbucks app.
- Amazon – View your Amazon gift card balance at www.amazon.com/yourgiftcardbalance or on the Amazon mobile shopping app.
- iTunes – Check iTunes gift card balances at support.apple.com/itunes-gift-card-balance.
- Home Depot – Access Home Depot gift card balances at www.homedepot.com/c/Gift_Card_Balance.
Most major retailers and restaurants offer an online gift card balance portal. Do a quick internet search for the merchant name + “gift card balance” to find their website.
Call customer service
If a gift card balance cannot be checked online, you can call the merchant’s customer service phone number and ask an employee to assist you. Make sure to have the gift card number handy.
Here are some common customer service phone numbers for checking gift card balances:
- Target – 1 (800) 591-3869
- Walmart – 1 (888) 537-5503
- Best Buy – 1 (888) BEST BUY (1-888-237-8289)
- The Home Depot – 1 (800) 766-6342
- Lowe’s – 1 (800) 445-6937
- Macy’s – 1 (800) 289-6229
For any retailer-specific gift card, check their website or the back of the card for a customer service phone number to call. Explain that you have a gift card and want to check the balance.
Use a third-party website
If the merchant’s own balance check options are not available, you may be able to use a third-party website. Sites like GiftCardGranny.com, GiftCardSpread.com, and CardCash.com allow you to check gift card balances by entering the card number.
Keep in mind that providing your gift card information to these types of websites carries some risk, as they are accessing and storing your card data. Only use reputable sites that offer secure encryption.
Go to the store
As a last resort, you can present the physical gift card at the issuing merchant’s store and have an employee scan it to inform you of the remaining balance. This should only be done when the other balance check methods are not possible.
Bring the card to the customer service desk or checkout register. Let the cashier know you need to check the balance. They can swipe the card through their point-of-sale system to display the current funds.
Tips for checking gift card balances
Here are some useful tips when checking gift card balances:
- Start with the options provided on the gift card itself, such as a website, phone number, or store location.
- Create online accounts when possible – They make it easy to monitor balances.
- Do not throw away cards until the funds are fully used – You’ll need the card number to check the balance.
- If buying cards online, record the card numbers right away in case the physical card gets lost.
- When calling for a balance inquiry, listen carefully and write down the dollar amount remaining.
- Ask the merchant if there are any fees associated with balance checks or account inactivity.
What to do if your gift card has no funds
It can be frustrating and disappointing to check a gift card balance only to find that the full value has already been redeemed. If this occurs, here are some steps to take:
- Confirm the card has a $0 balance – There could have been an error checking it.
- Review recent purchases to see if you redeemed the card yourself and forgot.
- For physical gift cards, check if the protective sticker was removed to reveal a code.
- Contact the gift card issuer to see if they can investigate transactions made with the card.
- If the card was used fraudulently, report it to the company right away.
- If applicable, contact the gift card purchaser to discuss the situation.
Unfortunately, if you cannot prove fraud or theft, you may be out of luck. Purchased gift cards are generally the same as cash. But it is worth inquiring with the merchant if they can offer any assistance or compensation.
Using technology to check balances
Technology has made it easier than ever to check gift card balances. Here are some of the technical methods available:
Major retailers like Starbucks, Amazon, Walmart, and Target all offer mobile apps for iPhone and Android. You can install the app, enter your gift card number, and easily monitor the balance from your smartphone.
SMS text messages
Some gift cards allow you to text a code to a phone number to receive the balance via text message. For example, to check a Home Depot eGift card, text the message “BAL” to 24303.
When you register a gift card online, you may be able to set up low balance email alerts. For example, you could get notified any time your card drops below $20.
Add your gift card to a digital wallet like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. You can then track the balance directly in the wallet app.
New gift cards may have QR codes that link to the balance check site. Simply scan the code with your phone camera to pull up the balance portal.
Common questions about checking gift card balances
Can you check the balance of any gift card?
Most major retailer and restaurant gift cards can be checked through one of the methods described above. For more obscure merchants, you may have to ask an employee to check it in-store.
Where can you check a Visa or Mastercard gift card balance?
Open-loop Visa and Mastercard gift cards can be checked online at the card issuer’s website, by calling the number on the back of the card, or by using a third-party balance check website.
Do you need the receipt to check the balance?
No, the receipt is not needed. You just need the gift card number and security code, if applicable, to check the balance.
Is there a fee to check the balance?
Most merchants do not charge a fee for balance inquiries. But a small number do, such as $0.50 or $1 per check. This policy should be disclosed when purchasing the card.
Can gift cards expire?
Yes, gift cards can expire and must be used by the expiration date printed on the card. In most states, cards cannot expire less than 5 years from the purchase date.
Takeaways on checking gift card balances
Here are some key takeaways on how to check gift card balances:
- Start by looking at the gift card for a phone number, website, or store location to check.
- Create an online account with the merchant when available to easily monitor the balance.
- Use the retailer’s website, mobile app, or call customer service to inquire about the balance.
- Only use trusted third-party balance check sites, as they access your card information.
- As a last resort, you can have the merchant scan the card in-store to check.
- Check balances periodically to avoid letting funds expire.
Keeping track of gift card balances helps ensure you use the full value before they expire. Technology like mobile apps and text messaging provides more convenient ways than ever to monitor card funds.