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How to Use a Mastercard, Visa or Amex Gift Card on Amazon

by on April 10, 2019
in Tips & How-Tos, Shopping, Money Savers, Time Savers :: 18 comments

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Trying to use a Mastercard, Visa or Amex Gift Card on Amazon can cause several headaches. First, simply registering the card as a payment method can be tricky. Amazon requires a name and billing address to register a credit card as a means of payment. Since many gift cards aren’t personalized to you, there is no name or zip code to enter, and Amazon won’t be able to validate the card.

Even if you get through that first hurdle, Mastercard, Visa or Amex gift cards aren’t well-suited to online purchasing. Since Amazon doesn’t allow you to split a purchase among multiple cards, if your gift card is worth $50 and your order is $70, there’s no way to make up the difference, and your transaction will simply be declined. On the flip side, if your order is $47, you’ll be left with a $3 balance on your gift card, which isn’t useful for anything.

However, there are a couple of tricks that will make using a gift card on Amazon a breeze. In fact, there’s probably no better place to use one of these cards than Amazon. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Register your Mastercard, Visa or Amex gift card with the issuing bank

If your card doesn’t already have your name and zip code associated with it, you’ll need to do that through the financial institution that issued the card. Sometimes there will be a registration URL on the back of the card. If not, look for the name of the institution on the card and then Google “[institution name] gift card registration”. That should get you to the right site. If it's an Amex gift card, use this link. Once there, you’ll be asked to verify the card info, and then you’ll have the option of registering the card with your name and address. This is also a good time to confirm the available balance.

2. Add your gift card as a payment method on Amazon

Next, go to and click on the Account & Lists dropdown to go to Your Account.

Amazon Your Account Add Payment option

Click on the Payment options box to add your gift card as a new payment source. If the box doesn’t appear, but you'll find “Payment options” under the Ordering and shopping preferences list below it.

3. Swap your Mastercard, Visa or Amex gift card for an Amazon gift card

At this point, you could start using your Mastercard, Visa or for purchases on Amazon. The problem is, though, that Amazon doesn’t let you divide purchases among multiple cards. So if you have a $30 gift card, you can’t make purchases for more than $30. And if you make a purchase for less, you’ll be stuck with a small remaining balance that is even more difficult to use.

The trick to get around this is to use your Mastercard, Visa or Amex gift card to buy an Amazon gift card. With Amazon gift cards, the full amount can be credited to your purchase, and any additional funds required can be paid with your regular credit card.

Click on the Gift cards box in Your Account then click the Reload Your Balance Button.

Amazon gift card balance

On the next screen, enter in the balance on your Mastercard or Visa gift card (if you don’t know it, you can get the remaining balance from the issuing institution (see Step #1 above) and select the gift card you added in Step #2 as the Payment method.

Amazon reload gift card balance

Assuming you properly registered your card and entered in the correct balance amount, the transaction should go through and you will see the full amount reflected in your Amazon Gift Card Balance. Now, you're all set, and when you make a purchase, your gift card balance will be applied automatically until it’s gone. Try it for yourself.

For more Amazon shopping tips, see:

[Image credit: Josh Kirschner/Techlicious, American Express, Mastercard, Visa]

Discussion loading


Adding Mastercard gift card to Amazon

From Mary Taddeo on July 12, 2019 :: 6:06 pm

Just wanted to say a huge Thanks to Josh for his clear and accurate instructions for doing the above.
I had tried it before using my own resources, without success.  I am thrilled that it worked with your instructions, since I want to buy a special gift on Amazon, and adding the Mastercard gift card balances will REALLY HELP.
Thanks again for the wonderful service you are providing.
Mary Taddeo



Glad it worked!

From Josh Kirschner on July 13, 2019 :: 10:17 am

I had my own frustrations using gift cards on Amazon, so thought providing a detailed solution would be helpful to others, as well.



Did not work for me using Amex or Visa gift cards

From Ben A. on July 30, 2019 :: 8:01 pm

So frustrating… it’s like $ going to waste since I cannot use these gift cards anywhere unless I use less than the amount.  I even tried reloading $1 less than the balance since most companies put this amount on hold initially.


Didn't work for me for full amount - needed to go $1 less

From Todd Hackett on August 07, 2019 :: 11:55 pm

I followed the steps to register three MasterCard gift cards with my name and address, add them as Amazon payment methods, and load their full value into my Amazon gift card balance. The transactions failed, telling me that the payment method needed to be revised. I eventually contacted Amazon through online chat, and was told that the charges were denied by the bank and to contact them. I called the number on the back of the and after almost five minutes of automated messages and selections finally talked to a person. She checked and said that Amazon applied a $1 hold to verify that the card was valid, then applied a charge for the whole amount. Since the balance was now $1 less (due to Amazon’s $1 hold), the charge exceeded the available balance and was denied. I had deleted the cards from Amazon, so I put them back, tried again but each time used an amount $2 less than the balance (because the $1 hold was still there, plus I anticipated another $1 hold), and it worked. I tried one first and it took a few hours but finally went through. The others are still processing, but I expect them to work. I should have most of the funds available for Amazon purchases soon, but also have three gift cards left over with only $2 on each.



That's annoying

From Josh Kirschner on August 12, 2019 :: 10:24 am

It’s annoying that happened for you, but it’s not that unusual for companies to place those temporary holds on new credit cards. The holds usually drop off after a couple of days, so one option is to add the card and, if you’re having an issue wait the hold amount, wait a couple of days then create the Amazon gift card. For cards that have a $1 or $2 balance, you should be able to go back in and apply those amounts to your Amazon gift card account - Amazon won’t (shouldn’t) place another hold on the account once it has already been verified.



The 1$ withholding I think is fairly common(with gift cards)

From JD on October 21, 2019 :: 11:27 pm

It’s probably more common than you might think and a real PITA when you run into it since many of these cards will steal $1-3$ per month if there is any remaining balance. So a 7-8 day delay can compound your headaches.

Rant warning: I honestly think it’s intentional to make these cards hard to use so that they always get a little unused balance….$1-3$ x 100,000 cards is a pretty good scam.
FTC needs to crack down harder on this practice especially for refund cards like the one I got from ATT.

After going through Amazon tech support hell and the talking to issuing bank to figure out exactly what happened. I think I will just go to my local diner, get something for a few bucks less than the card and leave balance as tip.

In any case Amazon could have avoided this by simply subtracting the $1 before submitting an order if they still have $1 authorization pending OR wait for the $1 authorization to complete before submitting the amount for the order. Instead they submitted both at the same time resulting in a DECLINED and hung order.

My sincere apologies for ranting on your page. This is a really good article provided you take the $1 precaution (maybe worth an article update because Amazon doesn’t warn you until after the badness happens)



No longer able to register name with AMEX

From Dave on November 21, 2019 :: 3:15 pm

I tried the above method only to find out AMEX no longer lets you register a name once you enter the card on the site, only view balance, and the phone number they provide is only automated (and calling other amex numbers just gets you routed back to the automated line eventually) Just a heads up that this may no longer work for Amex prepaid cards.



Confirmed: Talked to AmEx: no need to register a name.

From Kirk Fretwell on January 28, 2020 :: 9:41 pm

You don’t need to provide a name (if the login form forces you to, then maybe use “gift” - “card”. You don’t need to provide an address (again, if required, just enter your own address).

I talked to an AmEx rep on the phone by calling the back of the card.  She just confirmed this.



Few Details to add to this...

From Josh Ridenour on December 01, 2019 :: 1:39 am

Just got this to work but there’s a few things that I’ve learned through this process:
1. You have to activate the card online using the
2. The name on the card is then the email address you used when activating. You’ll need this for when you add the card to your account to use for a purchase.
3. Amazon holds $1 so when you use the card to either reload your Amazon gift card or make a purchase, easiest to remove the dollar from the purchase so it will go through (i.e. with a $100 card, only use $99 when purchasing anything on Amazon.



didnt work for amex

From Don Post on December 08, 2019 :: 4:47 pm

I received a 100 dollar amex gift card and when i called the number on the back to register it the CSR said its already activated and they dont add names and addresses to gift cards. I tried the website as well and same issue.  if the card is already activated (mine is as a gift from company xmas party) it appears you are out of luck registering it and using it for amazon purchases.



It worked for me.

From Steven on December 26, 2019 :: 1:54 pm

Ran through the process. initial round it failed. i put the full amount. checked the that Josh said above and amazon did a $0.10 hold. this time i tried to do the reload gift balance with xxx.80 and it loaded just fine. for name I put “gift”



Worked for my amex (no name) gift card

From Scott on December 27, 2019 :: 4:12 am

Initially failed for me on an already activated amex gift card with no name on it. I had used my name and address on Amazon. Checked the amex site after reading here. There is no place to register the card.

Followed Steven’s post above and tried again less 20 cents. It worked! I put “gift” for the name this time, but I don’t think Amazon cares - the issue was the 10 cent hold.



20 cent technique confirmed

From Kirk on January 28, 2020 :: 9:38 pm

I had the same problem Scott had: I tried to reload an amazon gift card from my Amex card, and saw immediately on a ten cent charge from amazon, which then caused the $100 charge to fail.

If you’re like me, and didn’t read the comments first! then you might be stuck in the same predicament.  This worked for me.

The point: IF TRYING TO USE AN AMEX GIFT CARD BY RECHARGING AN AMAZON ONLINE GIFT CARD FROM IT, SUBTRACT TEN CENTS.  (if you made the mistake we did here, subtract twenty.  grin



I had to call Amazon

From homer delaney on January 24, 2020 :: 11:54 am

This article, along with the comments posted = Excellent.  But, in following all of the suggestions, I still couldn’t “pair” my Amex gift card over to Amazon.  As a last resort and after my search HASSLE, I found the Amazon ‘call me back’ web site. I spoke with the CSR - Very Proficient!!! - and the transfer was finalized in 6 minutes.  BRAVO!!!! &  TYVM….



Glad you found it useful!

From Josh Kirschner on January 24, 2020 :: 2:01 pm

Thanks for the update about using the Amazon customer service to help you get your gift card active.  For others who want (or need) to contact amazon customer service, here’s the link:



Worked for Mastercard gift cards

From Shawna on July 28, 2020 :: 7:21 pm

Thanks for posting this! I used it for a Vanilla prepaid mastercard and a Perfect Gift mastercard.



Visa gift card

From Julia on August 03, 2020 :: 12:17 am

I get the visa gift card for 25$ and now I been buying stuff on Amazon does they will reclaim the money back ?



AMEX success

From Susan S on August 30, 2020 :: 8:56 pm

Thanks to all the comments here, I was able to reload my Amazon gift card with the remaining AMEX balance.  I just entered the card number with “gift” as the name, for .10 less than the balance.  Went right through, first try.


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