How to Easily Use Up Small Gift Card Balances

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If you are like me, you end up with various gift cards because of promotional deals, offers, or just good opportunities to earn miles and points. I’m not super deep into the world of gift cards by any stretch, but I usually have a few at any given time for various reasons. I have a very sophisticated way to keep track of these gift cards consisting of plastic baggies in a top secret drawer. This central location means I don’t lose or forget about gift cards that I have, but it doesn’t solve the problem of what to do when there are only a couple dollars left on a Visa or MasterCard type of prepaid gift card.


Obviously you don’t want to waste even a few dollars since most of us turn to gift cards to save money, but you also may not want to be a total schmuck slowing down a line to split a payment to use up the remaining $2.70 of a Visa gift card. One easy way to use up small gift card balances is to use them at a store where the payment system automatically uses whatever amount is left on the card without you having to know in advance exactly how much to have the cashier type in. Target is a great example of a store where this process is very simple, but there is another easy online way to use up small gift card balances that has become my go-to way to not waste a single penny or inconvenience others along the way.

How to Easily Use Up Small Gift Card Balances

You can load your Amazon Balance online with as little as just 50 cents. This means as long as there is at least 50 cent on your Visa, MasterCard, Amex, etc. gift card, you can enter it as a payment source for your Amazon reload and turn that small balance into Amazon credit…which is pretty much the same as cash to me.

To do the same you just need to look up how much is left on each gift card via their website or phone number, and then enter that amount for your Amazon reload. I did this with some small remanent gift card balances yesterday. It felt great to increase my Amazon reload balance while at the same time clearing out some almost empty gift cards out of the “gift card drawer”.

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How do you use up small gift card balances without wasting time or money?

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  1. Our Harkins Theatres gives you a free popcorn voucher for every $25 you load to their gift card. So I’ll take a stack of small balance cards and just swipe them one after another until I hit the total, since they have a system like Target’s. Free popcorn and I lighten up my purse, win-win!

  2. I had $0.30 or so left on a Visa gift card and I just used it at Walgreens as partial payment towards a purchase. Best of all, I didn’t have to tell the cashier the remaining balance.

  3. Just drain them at your grocery store (press green “Enter” button to run them as a credit card).
    It will auto-drain. Amazon takes to much time.

  4. You can load on PayPal too and use for payments. Many charities collect contributions through PayPal. Good way to supplement your giving.

  5. ” I have a very sophisticated way to keep track of these gift cards consisting of plastic baggies in a top secret drawer”

    Is there a YouTube video showing how to do this? If not, maybe you could make a video and post it here. I’m sure lots of us would like to master this technique. 🙂

  6. Whole Foods and McDonald’s will automatically drain all the funds from GCs, and the cashier will tell you that they still need $x amount to complete your purchase. I’ve used up to 3 GCs on one small purchase in this manner.

    About a month ago the cash-register receipts at both stores began showing erroneous amounts of remaining balance on GCs…I don’t know what caused that change. For example, if I had a GC with $20 balance, and I made a couple of small purchases during the day, sometimes the receipt for a purchase the next day would still indicate a remaining balance of $20 when I knew there was less than $5.

    Now, of course, I had to test this out by then trying to buy something that cost $15. Had I just found something better than “manufactured spend”, something that might be termed “manufactured earn”??

    Nope, it didn’t work 🙁

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