Some prepaid debit cards can be problematic because it’s nearly impossible to use it up to the last cent. That means you end up with some odd amount on the card that no one will accept for payment unless by some miracle your purchase is equal to or less than that odd amount.
According to our friends at NerdWallet, some prepaid debit cards—not the funds but the cards themselves—have expiration dates, which is difficult to understand, but true nonetheless.
Most stores will not allow you to “split payments.” That means if you buy a new bike and want to use up that last $1.77 on a prepaid debit card (paying the balance with cash or some other form of payment), most stores will not let you do it. The problem is when the salesperson tries to process the prepaid card, it returns a rejection because the balance on the card is insufficient to cover the entire transaction.
There is a way …
I want to show you a way that you can use up that $1.77 or any nagging tiny balance—even $.05— left on a prepaid debit card. But before we go on, let’s define terms.
Prepaid debit card
A debit card that has has a MasterCard or Visa logo on it. It’s been “loaded” with a certain amount of money that can be spent in any store that takes MasterCard or Visa transactions. Mostly, people purchase these cards outright (plus an outrageous fee), but you may have received them in other ways—for a gift, or as your rebate from Verizon, AT&T or any number of other companies offering rebates.
Department store gift card
This article does not apply to a Nordstrom, Target, Kohls or any other such retailer. They issue their branded department store gift cards which represent store credit, not money in the form of a prepaid debit card.
For anyone worried that I’m about to suggest you do something so sneaky you could be arrested, relax. This is very ethical and completely legal—openly allowed, and actually quite clever.
Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon affiliated sites.
How to use up every last cent
You will use Amazon to convert any amount on any prepaid debit card (defined above), even if what remains is only a few cents. This means you need an Amazon account. If you have ever purchased anything there, you have an account. If not, open one. It’s free and easy. The way to conquer the prepaid debit-card problem above is with your account at Amazon.com.
You will use what’s reamining on that prepaid debit card to reload your Amazon gift card account, even if it is only a few cents. Now it can be used to buy anything at Amazon. And you can split payments. That means if you added $1.71 to your Amazon gift card balance, you can use it now to purchase let’s say (shameless plug alert) one of my books or a gift for your best friend.
First, you apply said Amazon gift card amount to your purchase, then pay the balance as you normally would.
The nice thing is that an Amazon gift card balance never expires. You can just hold the funds in your Amazon account until you need them or until you want to purchase an Amazon Gift Card for yourself or someone else.
So let’s review, shall we?
Amazon has a method by which you can move any amount from a prepaid debit card into your Amazon.com gift card account. Those funds can now be used to purchase things including Amazon Gift Cards.
Follow these steps
To add a prepaid debit card balance to your account:
- Go to Amazon.com and log in using your passcodes.
- Look at the upper right side of the page and click on “Account and Lists.”
- Select the first item in the pull-down menu, “Your Account.”
- Click on “Gift cards.”
- Then “Reload Your Balance.”
- Scroll down and click “Add a card.”
- Enter your card information. If your card doesn’t contain your name, put your name in the field labeled “Name on card” then fill in the rest of the fields.
Once your card has been added you can reload your Amazon gift card balance with any amount remaining on that prepaid debit card. More here.
While prepaid debit-cards remain one of my personal nemesis for their high fees and the way it’s difficult to actually use them up, at least now we know there is a way to do it—up to the very last cent!