Why Register A Gift Card?

You may know that I like to pay for the holidays with gift cards purchased from my rewards credit card points.  My stack of cards came in the mail yesterday, and today I’m trying a new and hopefully good step in the process:  registering the cards.  Registering gift cards, whether received as gifts or earned through reward points, is a great step in maximizing the value of your cards.

In years’ past, I’ve ended the holiday season not being exactly sure how much money was on my cards, or which cards had zero balances.  I tried to keep track, with Sharpie notes in the signature line, or post-it notes on the card, but it was never exactly right.  And my attempts at logging in to the card were pointless, as apparently I’d put in some brilliant password and I couldn’t sort it out.

Not this year.  I have a plan.  In addition to ordering smaller value cards, I’m sitting down today and registering every last one.  I’ve made a list of the card numbers and their details and I’m putting it in my Christmas binder.  I’ve also activated the online account access part of the card so that I can check the balances online if I get confused.  Keeping a list of all your gift cards will help you make sure that you use every last cent!

There are a variety of benefits to registering gift cards online.  Obviously, keeping track of your money is important.  Other benefits differ between card issuers, but can include:

  • Using the card to make online purchases that require address verification
  • Viewing card balances
  • Transferring balances between your registered cards
  • Reloading cards
  • Faster checkout
  • Viewing your transaction history
  • Reporting a lost or stolen card to protect your balance
  • Unregistering a card that you no longer use

If you receive gift cards this holiday season, or if you use them to do your holiday purchasing, take the extra time to register and record them.  That way you’ll be sure not to waste any of their value, and you’ll eliminate stress over unknown balances and other details.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Al Pearson

    Where is the place to register the Commissary Rewards Card?

  • Laurie

    Visa Gift Cards are not “reloadable” because they are not debit cards. I don’t think you can transfer between them either.

    Poorly researched information

    • KateKashman

      No, Visa gift cards are not reloadable, but this article was about gift cards in general. Many gift cards are reloadable, and some offer the option to consolidate your balances into a single card instead of carrying multiple cards. Visa gift cards have some of the most restrictive policies.

  • Laurie

    You can view your transaction history without registering on most cards. Faster Check out??? Where did you get this idea?

    • KateKashman

      Um, because many gift cards use address verification for online transactions, and if your card isn’t registered, it can make the checkout process problematic.