It Couldn't be Easier to Activate a Visa Gift Card — Here's How to Do It (2024)

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Receiving a Visa gift card during the holidays, a birthday, or any other special occasion can feel like hitting the jackpot. These types of gift cards can be used to make purchases almost anywhere that a regular credit or debit card is accepted (whether in stores or online). This means the possibilities for spending this gift are as boundless as your card balance allows.

If you're wondering how to activate a Visa gift card, the good news is that they are already activated and ready to use after they've been bought. So once you've been gifted a card, almost all of the work has been done for you — just make sure you sign the back of your card before using it!

Here are a few more tips to keep in mind before you start shopping with your activated Visa gift card.

How to add a PIN to your Visa gift card

If you're asked to input a PIN when using your Visa gift card at a checkout kiosk, you can choose any four digits you'd like, and the purchase should go through. This will be the PIN for this specific card in the future, so make sure you choose something easy for you to memorize but hard for someone else to guess.

How to check your Visa gift card balance

On the back of your Visa gift card, you should see the website of the card's manufacturer — going to this URL will bring you directly to the option to check your gift card balance. You'll need the card number, expiration date, and CVV handy to retrieve this information.

Alternatively, you can call the number on the back of your Visa gift card and type in the same information, and the automated messaging system should be able to tell you your balance.

How to use your Visa gift card for an online purchase

Visa gift cards can easily be used for online purchases. First, make sure that your Visa gift card balance can cover the final total of your purchase. If given the option, you can designate either "credit" or "debit" as the card type (but not "gift card"). Then, enter the card information as you would normally, and add your name and address to the "billing address" section.

Also, keep in mind that according to some cardholder agreements, certain purchases may require a card balance up to 20% above the purchase amount. If your card isn't accepted for an online order, this may be why.

How to add your Visa gift card to your smartphone

If you want to make touchless payments with your Visa gift card (or keep your physical wallet from getting overstuffed), you can add it to a digital wallet on your smartphone, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay.

It Couldn't be Easier to Activate a Visa Gift Card — Here's How to Do It (2)

Add to Apple Wallet:

  1. Go to the Apple Wallet app and tap the "+" in the upper right-hand corner

  2. Select "Debit or Credit Card"

  3. Either scan the card or enter the card details manually

  4. Add your billing address and save your information

  5. Your Visa gift card should now appear as a payment option in your Apple Wallet app

Add to Google Wallet:

  1. Go to the Google Wallet app and tap "Add to Wallet +" at the bottom

  2. Select "Payment Card"

  3. Select "New credit or debit card"

  4. Either scan the card or enter the card details manually

  5. Enter your information and select "save"

  6. Your Visa gift card should now appear as a payment option in your Google Wallet

Add to Samsung Wallet:

  1. Go to the Samsung Wallet app and tap the "+" in the upper right-hand corner

  2. Either scan the card with the phone's camera or enter the card details manually

  3. Enter your billing address information and select "Save"

  4. Your Vanilla gift card should now appear as a payment option in your Samsung Wallet

What happens if the Visa gift card is overspent?

If you attempt to spend more than the available balance on your Visa gift card, two things can happen: the purchase will be declined or the purchase will go through, but you'll need to cover the remaining balance with a different payment method.

Suppose you know your Visa gift card balance is less than the purchase total. In that case, you may also be able to ask your checkout cashier to manually apply the card balance amount to your purchase, then settle up the remainder with a different payment method — but this may not work everywhere.

Where can't Visa gift cards be used?

Visa gift cards cannot be used at ATMs to withdraw the balance in cash, nor can they be used outside of the United States or with non-U.S. vendors.

While most Visa gift cards aren't able to be used with touchless payments, you can work around this by adding it to your smartphone's Wallet app via the instructions above.

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It Couldn't be Easier to Activate a Visa Gift Card — Here's How to Do It (2024)


It Couldn't be Easier to Activate a Visa Gift Card — Here's How to Do It? ›

Go to the link on the front sticker or on the back of the card. If you can't find an activation site listed, go to the card issuer's website and navigate to the Visa gift card section to begin activation.

Why won't it let me activate my Visa gift card? ›

What to do if your Visa gift card won't activate. If your Visa gift card isn't activated, it could be the reason why it's not working or is being declined. On purchase, gift cards need to be activated to be used. If you're having issues, please call (833)-263-4157.

Why is my Visa gift card being declined when activated? ›

My gift card was declined. What should I do? Check to make sure there are sufficient funds on the card before making a purchase. If your purchase is declined and you believe the card has sufficient funds, please contact the card issuer at the toll-free number listed on the back of the card.

How do I activate my Visa prepaid card? ›

You can activate your card by calling the phone number on the activation label, 24 hours a day 7 days a week through the automated system. You can also activate your card by visiting, registering the card, and creating an account.

What to do if your gift card is not activated? ›

Card is not activated

If you see a message that says that your card has not been properly activated, it might not have been activated by the retailer who sold the card. The best option is to go back to the retailer and try to resolve it with them.

What is the activation code for a Visa gift card? ›

How do I activate my Visa or Mastercard gift card online? To activate your plastic Visa or Mastercard gift card online, you will need to enter: The 16-digit card number printed on the front of your gift card. The 3-digit security code (CVV code) printed on the back of your card.

How long can it take for a Visa gift card to activate? ›

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.

Why are my gift cards declining? ›

Insufficient Funds: This is the most common reason. If the value of the purchase exceeds the remaining balance on the gift card, the transaction will be declined. Expired or Inactive Card: Gift cards typically have an expiration date, after which they might become inactive or unusable.

How do I contact Visa gift card customer service? ›

For general questions regarding Visa gift cards, call (866)511-GIFT. Card information is provided by third parties. Visa may receive compensation from the card issuers whose cards appear on the website, but makes no representations about the accuracy or completeness of any information.

How do I activate my gift card? ›

If a card needs to be activated, the ID number and activation code will be on the card, as well as a website and toll-free phone number via which you can activate the card. Gift cards that need activation may also require you to use a PIN.

Do prepaid Visa cards need to be activated? ›

Visa Prepaid cards are easy to use

All you need to do is: Activate it online or by phone. Load it online or in-person. Set up direct deposit.

Can I activate my Visa card online? ›

Learn more about how Visa Debit cards work. Your bank's website: Sign in to your account and search for activate new card. Mobile app: Many banks allow you to activate your card in the mobile app. Phone: Typically, your new card will include a sticker with a toll-free number to use for activation.

Why won't my vanilla gift card work? ›

The main reason why your Vanilla gift card may be declined is that it is yet to be activated. Follow the processes discussed earlier to activate your gift card. Alternatively, locate the customer support line on your gift card and contact them to process it for you.

Can you refund a gift card if it doesn't work? ›

The ability to return a gift card depends on the store you bought it from. A lot of retailers (like Amazon, Target, Lowe's, and Sephora) state in their terms and conditions that their gift cards, both physical and digital, are nonrefundable. And that applies even if you kept the receipt from the purchase.

Do gift cards activate immediately? ›

When you buy a gift card at the store (whether it is a retailer, restaurant, Visa or Mastercard gift card), you take the gift card to the cash register and ask the cashier to load money onto the card. The cashier takes the card, activates it and loads the dollar amount requested onto the card.

How do I activate my prepaid Visa gift card online? ›

Just head on to the Visa website itself to activate your card. 2. Enter the Card Details. Once you are on the site, you'll get a prompt on your screen to enter the gift card account number (you can find the 16-digit number on either the front or back of your gift card).

Are prepaid cards automatically activated? ›

Some cards require activation by calling or going online to provide the card number before you start using it. If you don't go online or call your card provider, or if your provider does not automatically activate your card for you, you will not be able to use your card.

How do I know when my Visa card is activated? ›

There are a few easy ways to check if a credit card is active. Call customer service: You can call the phone number on the back of your credit card to reach customer service. You'll be able to check the status of your card and, if it is deactivated, you can ask about reactivation.

What number do I call to activate my Visa debit card? ›

To activate your Visa Debit Card, please call 1-855-253-1057 (U.S.) and follow the steps below: Enter the 16-digit card number and press the “#” key. Enter the last 4 digits of your U.S. Social Security Number.


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