12 answers

Gift Card Problems w/Target and Visa Bank Cards - Beware

Hi All,

We have lots of teens that we purchase gifts for - and most of them would prefer gift cards. We also use gift cards for employee prizes at our company functions. Here are my gift card headaches. I'm wondering if anyone else has had this problem.

Two years ago we gave LaSalle Bank Visa cards as gifts. SEVERAL of the cards were problematic in that they have to be treated in a certain way at the register and some places just couldn't get them to work...Target was one I remember who told my nephew it wasn't activated. I took it back to the bank and it was. I later used it myself so I know it was fine. Bottom line - these were a problem b/c they aren't user friendly if the merchant isn't educated in processing them.

This year I purchased a large quantity of Target gift cards for personal gifts and prizes for our company picnic this summer. I had two people call me saying their cards had no money on them. I spent time in two Target stores trying to resolve thisas well as phone calls to corporate. I have the physical cards and my credit card they were purchased on but Target says they can't help me b/c they were never activated. So, even though I paid for them and have proof of it, they will not make good on them. When I was purchasing the replacement cards for the "bogus cards" I asked for a proof of activation slip/balance slip to provide with the new cards and they told me they couldn't do that either. I KNOW Starbucks does this as does Best Buy. In fact, when I was at Best Buy purchasing their cards and getting my proof of activation/balance slips the employee there shed some light on what might have happened at Target. She said it's possible the employee activating my large stack of cards could have slipped me a couple cards that weren't activated and pocketed the two that were. I guess it's a common employee theft problem with gift cards. I didn't think about it at the time but that seems logical as to what could have happened to me.

Soooooooooooo I think I'm going to stick with merchants that will provide activation slips...anyone else have thoughts on how to prevent this??? I love Target cards but won't buy them again until I know my money will not be going out the window!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Sounds like a big headache!!

What I do when I give gift cards from Target is I do each one as a separate order and put the receipt with the gift card. Works for me!

More Answers

I just saw a thing on the news about purchasing gift cards - they mentioned that you should always ask for cards from behind the counter/cashier's desk rather than taking them off the shelf. This avoids the activation problem.

The report also mentioned that you should check to see whether they have expiration dates associated with them because otherwise you can actually either lose the amount or be charged a fee to use them after they expire.

Sounds like a big headache!!

What I do when I give gift cards from Target is I do each one as a separate order and put the receipt with the gift card. Works for me!

I used to work in retail and I get so aggrivated when retail employees have no idea what they are doing. There is a way for them to check the balance, and why they don't do it, I don't know. ALSO since you've had a problem in the past, it may be worth holding up the line and calling the number on the back to make sure it has money on it. They may get the hint. A lot of times, I have to tell employees how to do their jobs because they aren't very smart. I've made a few enemies at stores like this, but when it comes to money....I don't care. Good luck!

Everyone should be very careful when when purchasing Target Visa Gift Cards because I got scammed!
I purchased eleven $100 Gift Cards for the Holidays. I made this purchase at the Burbank CA. Target Location. When i bought these cards, I opened them to use one of them, when i tired using it, it would decline the card so i was forced to open another one- yet again it got declined. I was forced to go back to Target and tell them what is going on with their cards. They very rudely told me that it is not their fault and that i should speak to Visa. After going back and forth i realized that the number scanned at the cashier to activate me gift card did not match the one on the reciept. I also noticed that on the bar code that is being scanned (to activate the card) there is a sticker-another barcode. I am guessing that these stickers are barcodes to activate other cards BESIDES MINE!
No i am in big problem waiting for answers from Visa. I am warning warning everyone of this problem because i dont want it to happen to you guys. So when buy, please make sure every number matches on ur gift card and your reciept.

Hi N.,
gosh, I'm so sorry you have had the problems with the Target cards. I'm definitely not going to invest in those anymore. I have had one or two here or there and not had a problem but there weren't large amounts of money on them. That would be terrible to not get your money back on those. I don't understand why they don't have a tracking system on that. You are right, Starbucks does, many places do. Thanks for the tip on that. Have a wonderful holiday!

Call their corporate office. If you have the card and the cc you purchased them on, they should be able to track the transaction. Insis that you want replacement cards mailed to you ASAP. It's utterly ridiculous that they can't give you confirmation of the activation at the cash register. If they don't give you the gift cards, ask for the money to be returned to your cc. They can't keep your money for something that you never received. It is possible that the cashier stole your activated cards. This problem is more common than you may think. It's also possible if you bought a lot of cards at once, that they simply got overlooked. I know that a lot of gift cards through banks and malls expire after a year. Make sure that you're buying cards that have no expiration and a confirmation number. There should be a scracth off area on the back of the card, under it is a code. If that panel is missing, or doesn't exsist at all, do not buy the card. Some people will write down the number of the gift card and then wait for it to be activated. They will then use the card online.

Sorry this happened to you! Thanks for the heads up! Sorry I don't have anything helpful to say. :)

I think that the receipt that comes with the gift card holds the same number that is on the back of the giftcard you purchase. I would check those against eachother before leaving the store.

wow! I can imagine how you must feel! I have never had any problems with any gift cards. I have one idea though. When you DO use one and the balance has been used up, you could ask to have it back or ask that they tear it up right in front of you. That way at least your old one won't become someone's new one.


We can make it easy. Don't shop at Target. They don't support our veterans!

I think I've kind of had it with the whole gift card concept. I've given many of them myself, but the excitement over the idea has worn off for me.

Not to seem ungrateful, but my kids collect them in small denominations from different stores all year long for birthdays or whatever ($5 here, $10 there). Some of the stores we never get to (we're not mall people and don't live near many of the stores anyway - like Barnes & Noble. I think we'd have to go 10 miles to get to that store, yet we have a small GC for it.) And it's not worth a special trip for such a small amount with our extremely packed weekend schedule. So I end up giving my sons the cash if it's a far away store, and hoping to someday redeem the gift card on something, or regift it.

Some companies (Gap, for example) start to subtract a percentage every month after a certain amount of time. I've also heard other people complain about the cards not being activated once in a while, although that hasn't happened to me. And of course, some gift cards just get lost. Or you never happen to have the right card with you (our kitchen bulletin board has about 5-6 of them on it at any given time, more than I would want to carry around all the time - my wallet wouldn't close.) I just this week finally spent a gift card that was given to my son for his baptism, 3 years ago. I put the cash in his account, but then I had to remember to use the card eventually - it's not like an infant was going to go on a shopping spree.

I read somewhere recently that $8 billion in gift cards does not get redeemed every year. I've come to the conclusion that gift cards are not an especially great deal for consumers, although sometimes they can be fun. But in general - give cash! Or, do they still have American Express Gift Checks? At least those, you could deposit in your bank account. Good luck!

Hey there..oh how I know the hassle that you are talking about with these sorts of cards. I just wanted to let you know what I have figured out with them. I work at Steak n Shake..not sure if you have them in your area but its a dine in burger and shakes place...anyway I always have people that try to pay with them and I finally figured out that if they are trying to pay a bill that is more then is on the card then it wont work...for some crazy reason you cant use up a card and then pay the rest in cash...so I always ask them how much is on the card and then split up their check into 2 seperate bills so it will work...hope this helps a little!

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