Update: This feature has been discontinued as of October 2014.
I don’t know about you, but I get nervous when I have too many prepaid debit cards and gift cards lying around. It’s bad enough that I have to keep tabs on my 15+ active credit cards that are stuffed in my wallet – the last thing I want to do is worry about losing a gift card with a balance on it, then I’m purely SOL. What’s even worse is when you use the prepaid card a few times, and you’re stuck with a balance of like $1.07 at the end.
I’ve mentioned many times that Amazon Payments is a great way to “spend money” for free using a credit card (to earn up to 12,000 miles a year). Luckily, I found that Amazon Payments is also the best way to completely zero out your prepaid cards and bank-issued gift cards – and it’s actually simple. Whether you have $500 on it, or 5 cents on it, you can turn those gift cards into cash for free (with a monthly $1,000 limit) using your Amazon Payments account.
In the points and miles world, you’re bound to get your hands on a prepaid card at one point or another thanks to things like manufactured spend, minimum spend requirements, sync promotions, Ink 5x promotions at office stores, etc. For instance, I bought wayyyy too many $500 Visa gift cards last month during the awesome A&P/Pathmark promotion (in fairness, I did liquidate some of those by setting a pin and buying a 70-cent money order from Walmart due to the $1,000 monthly Amazon Payment limit).
Below I will guide you through the 3 simple steps to putting those gift card balances back in your checking account. I have used a real-life example of a Visa gift card I had with a balance of $139.77.
Step 1: Register Your Prepaid Gift/Debit Card and Know The Exact Balance on Your Card
Although your gift card was activated during the time of purchase, it is not registered to your name and billing address. With that said, first, you’ll absolutely have to register the card and designate a billing address in order to use it online at Amazon Payments. You can find where to register your card by looking on the back of the card and visiting the website.
Once I logged on and registered my card, I saw that I had a balance of $139.77 left on my card. I now know that I can send myself a payment of $139.77 using the card.
Step 2: Add Your Registered Prepaid Card to the Amazon Account You Will Use to Send Yourself the Balance
Next, log on to the Amazon Payments account that you want to use to send yourself the payment. In my case, I have a generous immediate family member that lives out of state that trusts me to use their account for these types of scenarios. Since I used someone else’s account, I was able to have the money sent directly to me so that I can immediately transfer the funds to my checking account.
You can also use your own account to send the money to a trusted friend or family member and have them pay you back.
In order to get started, you’ll have to log on and add your registered card to the account you will use. When you log on, click on the “Edit My Account Settings” tab and then click “Add, edit, or delete my credit cards”. Once you complete that step, your gift card will appear in the list of your stored cards.
Step 3: Send Money
The final step is the fun part – sending the money. Click on the “Send Money” tab and fill out the request.
On the next page, you’ll have to select the payment method. Select “Send payment using a credit card” and then match up the last-four digits of your gift card to the corresponding card located on the drop-down menu.
Lastly, you will have to confirm the payment. If all goes well, the transaction should process within 5 minutes. Then your card will be completely liquidated, and the funds will be available to transfer to your checking account.