Visa® Gift Card

Frequently Asked Questions


Your Visa Gift card Balance

Making a Purchase with your Visa Gift card

Using Your Visa Gift card

What is a Visa Gift card?
The Visa Gift card is a prepaid card welcome everywhere Visa cards are accepted. Visa Gift cards are loaded with a set amount of funds and can be used for multiple purchases for as long as value remains on the card. Giving a Visa Gift card puts the power of choice in the hands of your friends and family.


How does my Visa Gift card work?

  • The Visa Gift card is a "non-reloadable prepaid" card, meaning the initial value is set by the person who purchased the card. Additional funds cannot be added later.
  • The Visa Gift card carries the Visa logo like any other Visa card, so it can be used at the millions of places that accept Visa cards, including online.
  • As with a credit card, when you are ready to pay, simply hand the card to the cashier and sign the purchase receipt.
  • Each time you make a purchase, that amount is automatically deducted from the card balance. It is best to personally keep track of your balance, as most merchants will not be able to tell you.
  • The card does not offer a line of credit like a credit card.
  • If your gift card says Valid only in Canada on the front, the provider has issued a Domestic Use Only card. Although your gift card will not be accepted at locations outside of Canada, it is welcome at wherever Visa cards are accepted within Canada.
  • You will notice on some cards the phrase "ELECTRONIC USE ONLY" printed on the front of the card. This means that your card must be swiped through an electronic terminal at a retail store in order to complete a purchase transaction. Because there are no raised letters on this type of card, it cannot be used at merchants who use manual imprint machines.


Do I need to activate my Visa Gift card?
The activation process is determined by the provider of your card, so you will need to follow the instructions provided with your card. Many Visa Gift cards are activated automatically upon purchase and may be used immediately. However, some Visa Gift cards must be activated by the recipient before they can be used.

Be sure to sign in the designated area on the back before making your first purchase.


What do I need to include when giving the Visa Gift card as a present?

  • When giving as a gift, provide the recipient with all materials you received with the card upon purchase, including terms and conditions for use.
  • If you are giving the card to a young person who has little card-use experience, you may wish to review the materials together.


What should I do if my Visa Gift card is lost or stolen?

  • Report a lost or stolen card immediately to the provider that issued the card. To do so, call the toll-free number listed on the back of the card or in the card documentation.
  • To assist your provider in the event that you need to report a lost or stolen card, it is a good idea to register your card when you receive it. You can do this by either calling the provider, or by visiting their website.
  • You will need to provide the lost or stolen Visa Gift card number for it to be cancelled and a replacement issued.
  • Be sure to write down your card number and keep it in safe place in the event that your card is ever lost or stolen.
  • To ensure authorized use of your Visa Gift card, be sure to sign the back before using.


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Your Visa Gift card Balance

How do I know the value of my Visa Gift card?
Look for the initial balance in the card materials that come with your card at the time you receive it. These card materials provide important information, including the terms and conditions for using your card, so please read them carefully before using the card. If your card does not come with these materials, you should contact the financial institution that issued the card. Most issuers also offer web site access, a toll-free number, or instructions on the back of the card.

  • It is important to know the remaining balance before making a purchase, as making a purchase for an amount greater than your balance could result in a denied transaction.
  • When making a purchase, be sure to record the amount and make note of your new balance.
  • If your card has expired and there is a remaining balance of funds on the card, you may wish to receive a new card. Some issuers also offer the ability to receive remaining funds via check. If you have a balance on your expired card, contact the financial institution that issued your card or refer to your cardholder material to learn how to order a new card or a check. Issuers may charge a fee for this service.


How much money can be put on the Visa Gift card?
The person who gave you the card will decide the initial value of your gift card. The card provider specifies the minimum and maximum value of your card.


What should I do with my Visa Gift card when the value has been spent?
Keep your card in case you have to return any purchases made with the card. If you do try to return items that you’ve purchased with your gift card, the store’s policy may require you to present the card used to make the purchase. You should destroy the card once you are sure there is no further need.

If your Visa Gift card has expired, the merchant's return policy will determine how the return will be handled.


What if my card is expired?
If your card has expired, you have no returns to make and there is no remaining balance on the card, you may destroy the card.

If your card has expired and there is a remaining balance of funds on the card, you may wish to receive a new card. Some issuers also offer the ability to receive remaining funds via cheque. If you have a balance on your expired card, contact the financial institution that issued your card or refer to your cardholder material to learn how to order a new card or a cheque. Issuers may charge a fee for this service.


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Making a Purchase with your Visa Gift card

What if I change my mind and want to cancel a purchase?
If a merchant cancels a purchase transaction for you, it may take three to seven business days for the cancellation to show up on your Visa Gift card record and for the funds to be credited to your card and available for use. Check the balance on your card, either online or by phone, to see when your cancelled purchase transaction has been processed. Refer to the back of your card for the web site address/phone number of the financial institution that issued your card.


Why was my Visa Gift card declined?

  • Your card may have expired. Check the expiry date printed on the front of your card. (It’s important to note that while your card may have expired, the funds remaining on the card do not expire. If you have a balance on your expired card, contact the financial institution that issued your card or refer to your cardholder material to learn how to order a new card. Issuers may charge a fee for this service.)
  • Your remaining card balance may be less than the value of the item you wish to purchase.
  • Merchants who only possess a manual imprint machine cannot accept Gift cards which have the phrase "ELECTRONIC USE ONLY" printed on the front of the card.
  • Some internet merchants use fraud protection software that may decline a Gift card purchase transaction.
  • Your card may not be registered with the card issuer.


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Using Your Visa Gift card

Where can I use my Visa Gift card?
Unlike store-issued gift cards, your Visa Gift card is intended for use anywhere Visa cards are accepted.


Can I use my Visa Gift card at more than one merchant?
Yes. You can use your Visa Gift card anywhere Visa cards are accepted. Just always ensure that the remaining balance on your card will cover the amount of your planned purchases.


Can I use my Visa Gift card for recurring bill payment transactions such as my phone or cable bill?
You should not use your Visa Gift card for recurring bill payments, such as your monthly telephone or cable bill. For recurring bill payment transactions please use your Visa Credit or Debit card instead. By doing so, you reduce the risk of using a Visa Gift card that has expired or has insufficient funds available.


Can I use my Visa Gift card at restaurants and hotels?
Yes. However, you should be aware that restaurants and hotels factor in an automatic tip or other incidental expenses when authorizing your purchase transaction. If the total purchase amount including the estimated tip exceeds the amount available on your card, your card may be declined. If you think this will happen, inform the merchant in advance how much to deduct from your Visa Gift card and which second payment method (credit card, debit card, cash or cheque) you want to use to cover the difference.


Can I use my Visa Gift card at gas stations?
Yes. Just remember to present the card to the station attendant rather than paying at the pump.


Can I use my Visa Gift card for online or phone purchases?
Yes. Your Visa Gift card is intended for use anywhere Visa cards are accepted. To make an online or phone purchase, you will need to register your card. You can do this by either calling the provider, or by visiting their website.

  • When you make an online or phone purchase, the name, address, and phone number you use will need to be exactly the same as the information you provided when registering your card. If the information is different, the transaction may be declined.
  • You can verify or update your information by visiting the card provider’s website or by contacting them using the number provided in your card documentation.
You should be aware that some internet merchants use fraud protection software that may decline a Visa Gift card for an online or phone purchase transaction.




Can I use my Visa Gift card outside of Canada?
In most cases, you should be able to use your Visa Gift card for purchases outside of Canada.

However, if your gift card states Valid only in Canada on the front, your provider has issued a Domestic Use Only card. Although your gift card won’t be accepted at locations outside of Canada, it is welcome at all locations within Canada where Visa is accepted.


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