Declined Visa Gift Cards: Multiple Reasons Why it Happened

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For most people, Visa gift cards are a go-to replacement for cash and debit/credit cards. But what if your Visa gift card is declined while making a transaction? The most common reasons are insufficient funds, an inactive card, the cashier using the card the wrong way, or simply you using your Visa gift card at an invalid place. 

In this blog, we will explore Visa Gift Cards, locations where they are applicable, and why your Visa gift card is being declined. So, let’s get started!

What is a Visa Gift Card?

Visa gift cards are similar to Visa prepaid debit cards that can be used worldwide wherever Visa cards are accepted. You can load it once with the desired balance to either gift it to someone or use it yourself. Visa Gift Cards are used to make in-store and online purchases. 

The spending limit of Visa gift cards is the amount you loaded into them while purchasing them. You can’t reload or use it once the balance is used ultimately. 

Locations Where Visa Gift Cards Are Accepted 

Most Visa gift cards can be used anywhere that Visa is accepted, which means millions of locations worldwide. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, some Visa gift cards cannot be used at ATM machines or to make recurring bill payments. 

Additionally, many Visa gift cards have restrictions on how they can be used. For example, some cards can only be used in the United States while others can only be used online. 


Here are some of the most popular places to use your Visa gift card:

Online Stores

Visa gift cards can be used at nearly any online store that accepts Visa payments. This includes major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and many others. Simply enter your card number and expiration date at checkout for online or phone purchases.


Visa gift cards can also be used for in-person purchases at any store that accepts Visa payments. This includes supermarkets, department stores, gas stations, and more. To pay with a Visa gift card, simply hand it to the cashier and they will process the payment.


You can also use your Visa gift card to withdraw cash from an ATM. However, you will need to have a PIN for this transaction. If you don’t have a PIN, you can usually request one from the issuing company. There may also be a fee associated with this service.

If you’re not sure whether or not your Visa gift card will work at a particular location, it’s always best to call ahead or check the merchant’s website before making a purchase.  

Why Is My Visa Gift Card Being Declined?

Not sure why your Visa Gift card get declined? Well, here we will tell you about all the possible reasons your Visa gift card might be declined. Keep reading to learn how you can solve these problems and use your Visa Gift card smoothly.  

Using In an Invalid Place

Undoubtedly, Visa gift cards are designed to be used wherever Visa cards are accepted. However, in some places, such as restaurants, spas, salons, gas stations, etc., merchants have more control over the transaction system than banks. 

Such places have older payment terminals that charge 20% more than your total bill as an authorization transaction to ensure the gift card has sufficient funds to cover the gratuity. If this amount exceeds the funds available on the card, your Visa gift card will get declined.


Ask the cashier or merchant to reduce the bill by 20% or to only charge the actual bill amount and retry the transaction process. You should also be prepared to pay through other payment methods.

Technical Issues

The technical issue is another reason your visa gift card is declined. There could be various technical issues such as:

  • The merchant’s server is down: If the merchant you’re trying to make a purchase from is experiencing technical difficulties, your card may be declined.
  • The card reader is not working properly: If the card reader is not functioning properly, your card may not be read correctly and could be declined.
  • The card has expired: All Visa gift cards have an expiration date. If your card has expired, it will no longer be valid and will be declined.
  • The card has been reported lost or stolen: If your Visa gift card has been reported lost or stolen, it will be declined.


Ask the cashier to retry the transaction process from the start or, if possible, use another card reader.

Incorrectly Using The Card

The most common reason for your Visa gift card being declined is the incorrect way of using it. If you’re using your Visa gift card at a sale terminal, then you need to enter it as a debit card payment method. If you enter it as a gift card, it will be declined.

You’ll be asked for a PIN code if you use it as a debit card. But if you use it as a credit card, you’ll not be required to provide a PIN code. This will be challenging as payment methods with gift cards vary for different Point of Sales Terminals.


Ask staff or cashiers nearby to get thorough guidelines on using Visa gift cards correctly at the Point on Sales terminals.

Inactive Gift Card

Another reason for declined Visa gift cards is inactive cards. All bank-issued cards require activation before use. Similarly, you must activate your Visa gift card before transacting with it. Although, some Visa gift cards don’t require activation. So, while purchasing and loading your card, remember to ask the cashier if it requires activation or not. 


To activate your card, you’ll need to call the prepaid card provider customer service number on the back of the card and follow the instructions. Or visit the website to activate your Visa Gift Card. 

Insufficient Balance 

You may not have enough money on the card to cover the purchase. Your Visa Gift card will be declined if the bill payment exceeds your current gift card balance. You can check the balance of your card by visiting the website or calling the customer service number. If you don’t have enough money on the card, you’ll need to add more before you can use it.


In such a case, you can tell the cashier that you’ll pay in partial payments if the gift card balance doesn’t cover the total bill. This way, you can pay some of the total bills from your current card funds and the remaining payment via cash or debit card.

Ineligible purchase

Another reason for the decline is that you’re trying to use the card for an ineligible purchase. For example, many cards can’t be used to buy alcohol or cigarettes. Some cards also have restrictions on how they can be used (for example, you might not be able to use the card to book a hotel room).


You can try calling the customer service number on the back of the card to check if they have restrictions on any purchases you are making.

Suspicious Activity 

Your card could be declined is if there’s been suspicious activity on it. This could include things like multiple failed attempts to use the card or unusually large purchases. Or it may be due to using the gift card at an unusual location or consecutively.


If your card has been flagged for suspicious activity, you’ll need to contact customer service to resolve the issue.



Do I Have to Activate My Visa Debit Card?

Yes, you need to activate your Visa Debit Card before using it. This can be done via a banking app, by calling on bank helpline, or by visiting the bank website or physical branch. You’ll be required to provide the last four digits of your card number and expiration date through the online method, and any Visa debit cards will be activated.

How Do You Use a Visa Gift Card for Online Purchases?

You can enter your Visa gift card as a debit payment method for online purchases. Through this method, you can later make partial payments as well. Another way is to simply enter your Visa gift card in the “gift card” field, and your payment will be automatically deducted from it.

How To Check Your Visa Gift Card Balance?

You can check your Visa gift card balance in two ways. You can call the toll-free number on the back of your Visa gift card. Tell them you wish to know your Visa gift card balance, and you’ll get it. 

Another way is to visit the card issuer’s website. Enter your Visa gift card’s 16-digit code and security code, and you’ll be able to know your Visa gift card balance.

Where Is the Card Number on a Visa Gift Card?

Look at the front side of your Visa Gift Card. It is usually a 16-digit printed code. But now, some gift cards have card numbers on the back for security measures. A quick trick is to count the group of numbers. If the number is 16 digits long, it is your Visa gift card number.

How Long Does It Take To Activate A Visa Gift Card?

Some Visa Gift Cards require separate activation by calling the toll-free number on the back of the card. It will take only 1 hour to activate your Visa gift card. However, some Visa gift cards are activated when loading payment in it.

Final Thoughts

Undoubtedly, it is confusing when your Visa Gift Card is declined despite having funds. There are various reasons behind it, such as technical faults, using the card at an invalid place, using it incorrectly, or your card still requires activation. 

Whatever the reason, you can always solve it by calling the toll-free number given on the back of your Visa gift card.