How long are Visa gift cards valid for?

Quick Summary

The expiration date and validity of Visa gift cards can vary depending on the type of card, where it was purchased, and the issuing bank’s policies. In general:

  • Visa retail gift cards are valid for at least 12 months from the purchase date.
  • Visa promotional gift cards may expire sooner, in as little as 6 months.
  • Once expired, unused funds may be reloaded onto a new gift card for an additional fee.
  • Fees may apply for checking balances, replacing lost or stolen cards, etc.


Visa gift cards have become a popular gift item and method of payment in recent years. They provide a convenient way to give monetary gifts without the need for cash or checks. Visa gift cards can be used anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted, providing flexibility and purchasing power for the recipient.

Visa gift cards must be activated before use, and come with specific terms and conditions, including an expiration date. Understanding how long Visa gift cards remain valid, and what happens when they expire, allows consumers to get the most value and convenience from these prepaid cards.

Standard Validity Period for Visa Gift Cards

The majority of Visa gift cards purchased from retailers and banks are valid for at least 12 months from the date of purchase. This standard validity period applies to general purpose Visa gift cards that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.

When you buy a standard Visa gift card, the expiration date should be clearly printed on the front or back of the physical card, or listed during online activation. The card is valid until 11:59pm on the printed expiration date.

For example, if you purchased a $100 Visa gift card on March 1, 2023, the expiration date would likely be somewhere around February 29, 2024. As long as the gift card is used for purchases before March 1, 2024, the full value can be redeemed.

Typical Validity Period of 12 Months or More

  • Standard retail Visa gift cards – 12 to 24 months
  • Visa gift cards from banks – 12 to 18 months
  • Reloadable Visa prepaid cards – Up to 5 years

The majority of standard Visa gift cards can be used for at least 12 months after activation. Many remain valid for up to 24 months from the date of purchase.

Shorter Expiration Dates on Promotional Visa Gift Cards

While most regular Visa gift cards are valid for a year or more, some promotional Visa gift cards have shorter expiration dates. These types of cards are often issued for specific marketing campaigns and promotions.

For example, a retailer may offer a promotional $10 Visa gift card with the purchase of a particular product. Or a restaurant might give away a $25 Visa gift card with the purchase of a gift certificate.

Since these promotional cards are typically free or deeply discounted, the expiration dates tend to be shorter than standard gift cards. Some promotional Visa cards are only valid for 6 to 9 months after issuance.

Typical Validity Period of Promotional Cards

  • Store promotional gift cards – 6 to 12 months
  • Restaurant or service promotional cards – 6 to 9 months
  • Giveaway and sweepstakes cards – 9 to 12 months

Be sure to note the expiration date for any promotional Visa cards received, and use the funds sooner rather than later. The shortened validity periods help limit the financial exposure of issuers offering discounted or free cards.

What Happens When a Visa Gift Card Expires?

Once a Visa gift card reaches its printed expiration date, it is no longer valid for purchases. Any unused balance remaining on the card is forfeited to the card issuer.

Unlike other prepaid cards and store gift cards, Visa does not allow expired gift card funds to live on past the expiration date and remain redeemable. So it’s important to make sure to use all funds on a Visa gift card before it expires.

However, while the original gift card cannot be used past the expiration date, the remaining balance may be transferable to a new gift card for an additional fee. See the next section for more details on balance transfers to new cards after expiration.

What You Can’t Do with an Expired Visa Gift Card

  • Make purchases online or in stores
  • Get cash back with purchases
  • Withdraw money at ATMs
  • Transfer funds to a bank account
  • Split payment between multiple cards

Expired Visa gift cards are considered null and void. The card numbers and security codes are automatically disabled by Visa on the expiration date.

Transferring an Expired Card’s Balance to a New Gift Card

While you can’t use an expired Visa gift card for transactions, it may be possible to transfer any remaining balance to a new, unexpired card for a fee.

Most major issuers of Visa gift cards allow customers to request a balance transfer after expiration. Fees generally range from $5 to $20 to move the leftover funds to a new active card.

The steps to complete a post-expiration balance transfer may include:

  1. Contacting the gift card issuer by phone or online
  2. Providing the expired card details and unused balance
  3. Paying the applicable balance transfer fee
  4. Receiving a new gift card with the remaining balance

Be sure to have the card number, expiration date, security code, and balance amount handy when requesting a transfer. Different issuers may have specific policies, so check with your gift card provider for details.

Typical Fees to Transfer Balance from an Expired Card

Issuer Transfer Fee
Visa $5.95
Mastercard $6.95
American Express $10.00
Discover $20.00

While balance transfer fees vary, they typically range from $5 to $20. Be sure to use the full gift card value prior to expiration if possible, to avoid fees.

Using Visa Gift Cards with Limited Validity Periods

Since most Visa gift cards eventually expire, it’s smart to use the funds sooner rather than later after receiving or activating one. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Check the expiration date – Be aware of the validity period from day one.
  • Use for everyday purchases – Opt for the gift card when shopping for gas, groceries, dining out, etc.
  • Split larger purchases – Use the card for a portion of bigger ticket items.
  • Set reminders to use – Avoid forgetting about the card near expiration.
  • Re-gift unused cards – Pass along any excess funds prior to expiration.

Keeping track of the expiration date and using the card often is key. Setting calendar reminders, a month or two before expiration, can also help prompt card usage.

Other Common Visa Gift Card Fees

In addition to shortened validity periods and balance transfer fees, some Visa gift cards may charge other service fees. Common ones include:

  • Purchase fee – Up to $6.95 one-time activation/purchase fee.
  • Replacement card fee – $5 to $20 for replacing lost or stolen cards.
  • Account statement fee – $2+ per monthly paper statement.
  • Account inactivity fee – $2 to $5 per month if unused.
  • Balance inquiry fee – $0.50+ for checking balance by phone or online.

Be sure to understand any fees associated with a particular Visa gift card. They are disclosed in the terms and conditions provided when purchasing or activating a card.

To avoid fees, use the full balance promptly, protect the physical card, and check balances sparingly. Also opt out of monthly statements to skip statement fees if possible.

Extending Validity with Visa Gift Card Reloads

Once a Visa gift card expires, the card itself along with the card number can no longer be used. However, any unused balance may be extended past the original expiration date by reloading funds onto a new gift card.

Many Visa gift card providers offer online and mobile apps to conveniently check balances and reload cards. Fees generally apply for reloads, similar to balance transfers from an expired card.

To extend the validity of a gift card balance past the expiration date:

  1. Register the card with the issuer to manage online or via app.
  2. As the expiration approaches, reload any leftover balance to a new card.
  3. A fee is charged for the reload (e.g. $5).
  4. The balance is transferred to a newly issued card with updated expiration.

This reload process can essentially keep unused gift card funds valid indefinitely. However, small diminishing balances may eventually get used up by fees. Check issuer policies for details.

Typical Reload Fees to Extend Expiration on Gift Cards

Issuer Reload Fee
Visa $3.95
Mastercard $4.95
American Express $6.95
Discover $5.00

Expect to pay between $3 and $7 for reloading gift card balances. Compare fees among brands to get the lowest-cost extensions.

Getting the Most from Visa Gift Cards

Follow these tips and best practices when using your Visa gift cards to maximize convenience, savings, and value:

  • Register your card – This allows you to manage online and via mobile app.
  • Note the expiration date – And set reminders to use your card ahead of time.
  • Use for everyday purchases – Groceries, gas, online shopping, etc. can all be paid for.
  • Avoid fees when possible – Skip balance checks, statements, replacements to limit fees.
  • Reload before expiration – Transfer any leftover balances to extend validity.
  • Combine cards if allowed – Some issuers let you consolidate balances.

Taking advantage of online account features, setting alerts, and maximizing usage opportunities will provide the best experience with Visa gift cards.

The Bottom Line

Most standard Visa gift cards purchased from retailers or banks stay valid for around 12 months. Promotional cards often expire faster, some as soon as 6 months after issuance. Once a card has expired, the funds are forfeited unless transferred to a new card for a fee.

Visa gift cards provide convenience and flexibility, as long as you keep track of the balances and expiration dates. Monitoring your account online and via mobile can make it easier. With sound management, Visa gift cards deliver enjoyable gifting and purchasing experiences.

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