Gift cards are the best. It’s the one present that suits everyone. But losing your gift card? That’s the worst! During the hectic holiday season, it’s easy to misplace something so small, especially when schlepping all your presents from one location to another. Regardless of why it’s missing, you’ll need to know how to replace it, or if you can replace it at all.
Not all retailers allow you to register your gift card, but if yours does, register it as soon as you receive it. This could end up protecting you in the future.
Here are a few steps that you can take to try to recover your losses:
Save That Receipt!
Your receipt is proof that the card is paid for and belongs to you. If you received the card as a present, ask the giver for the receipt.
If he or she doesn’t have it, contact the store where the card was purchased. It’s best to worry about the receipt before a card is lost or stolen, but unfortunately sometimes even a receipt won’t help with replacing some gift cards.
GameStop, one of the most popular video game and game equipment retailers in the country, has a strict “no replacement” policy, except where the law prohibits it. This policy is in place regardless of whether or not you have a receipt. In fact, Game Stop’s gift card help page specifically states that cards “will not be replaced if lost or stolen.”
Call or Visit Customer Service
Time is of the essence, since gift cards may or may not require a PIN to spend the funds. Most don’t, so anyone who has the card can use it to make purchases. As soon as you know your gift card is gone, call or visit the customer service department of the retailer. And be ready to give as much information as you can about the card and where it was purchased.
Brace Yourself for Unrecoverable Funds
Although many retailers, such as Walmart, will replace a stolen card with your receipt, you might be out of luck if the card has been zeroed out.
Replacements are often based on the balance that the card has remaining at the time you report it missing. The retailer will transfer that balance over to a new card, and you can go on your merry way. But if the card was stolen and someone’s already gone shopping with it, don’t expect the retailer to assume that those purchases weren’t made by you. Target and Best Buy are two other retailers that transfer the remaining balance to a new card if you’ve got a receipt. Keyword here: “remaining.”
With no identifying information at the point of sale, there’s no way to know who used the card and spent the funds, so what’s left is what you’ve got.
Online Gift Cards
It’s a bit more difficult to know if a digital gift card has been stolen until it’s used, and losing one usually means the information has been deleted by you or someone else.
As with all other gift cards, the first thing to do is contact customer service.
If the card is registered to you, you can give them the information they need to replace it, including the order number from when the card was purchased.
Remember, save your receipts and register every card you receive, if possible, as soon as you get it. If you can add a PIN, all the better.
The more identifying information you can offer, the more likely your chances are for recovering the loss. Retailers don’t necessarily want to make it difficult on you, but they have to protect themselves against loss, too.