Debit card

How to Use Up Every Last Cent on a Prepaid Debit Card

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.

 

Debit card

Photo Credit: GiftCards.com

Another problem

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.

And another

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.

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:

  1. Go to Amazon.com and log in using your passcodes.
  2. Look at the upper right side of the page and click on “Account and Lists.”
  3. Select the first item in the pull-down menu, “Your Account.”
  4. Click on “Gift cards.”
  5. Then “Reload Your Balance.”
  6. Scroll down and click “Add a card.”
  7. 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!

NEXT UP:

Savvy Shopper Tricks and Treats

How to Shop with CASH at Amazon

9 Ways You May Be Abusing Your Appliances


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.

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53 replies
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  1. Paul Benard says:

    This is untrue. I have added $0.41 on my Amazon account with no problem. Just add your prepaid card as a payment method, check the balance on the card you want to add, then click “reload your balance” on the Amazon gift card and add the balance you want to the gift card.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      You’re absolutely correct, Paul. I amended the post to list the exact steps one by one, in an effort to make this very clear.

      Reply
  2. Keith Tang says:

    thank for this article, can you please explain in a little more details about “Amazon.com has a method by which you can move any amount from a prepaid debit card into your Amazon.com account. ” ?
    I have a prepaid card with balance less then $.50, which is below the minimum balance to purchase a gift card. I would like to “transfer” the amount to my Amazon account, but I don’t see where you can “transfer” a balance to Amazon account, and if you could transfer the balance to Amazon account, why would you need to purchase an Amazon Gift Card and email to yourself? you can just apply the balance to your purchase directly. no?

    Reply
  3. V8-Snail says:

    This instruction was misleading! You will need at least $0.50 in your prepaid card to be able to do this. There is no option to just transfer the balance from your prepaid into Amazon account, you could reload you gift card balance with your prepaid, but you will need at least $0.50 left in your prepaid.

    Reply
    • Paul Benard says:

      This is untrue. I have added $0.41 on my Amazon account with no problem. Just add your prepaid card as a payment method, check the balance on the card you want to add, then click “reload your balance” on the Amazon gift card and add the balance you want to the gift card.

      Reply
      • Noelani says:

        @Paul, I just tried that. It would not allow me to do that. My prepaid was already added as a payment method. I put the balance of my card $0.39. and I clicked “reload your balance”…and it says “! The minimum amount is $0.50” in bright red.

      • Mark says:

        Please help me! I have dozens of prepaid Visas with ~30-40 cents each. I want this money! I am getting the message that says “The minimum amount is 0.50”. How can I combine the different cards that each have a balance less than 0.50???

  4. Elizabeth Jackson says:

    I have used those cards with the split payment option to pay my cell bill and even auto insurance. Thing is the card had to have at least a dollar value and most companies only let you process around 5 cards per day. So if you have lots of low value cards it might take a week or two to pay that bill.

    Reply
  5. Hooping Hopper says:

    I had a virtual visa prepaid card with 47 cents on it. Since it was a virtual card, I could not take it to a store to have them do a partial payment but, I finally figured out how to use it. I read a few articles online that said to try to apply it to a utility or insurance bill but, the minimum payment on those was $1. I also read a few posts that said to reload a gift card/add to gift card balance on Amazon but, the minimum is 50 cents so, I couldn’t do that. So, I added something to my cart on Amazon that was $10.99, with tax it was $12.22. I then reloaded $11.75 to my gift card balance with another card. Then at checkout my gift card balance was automatically selected and the balance left to be paid was exactly $0.47, I selected my prepaid card and voila, I was done. And by voila I mean I spend a good hour and a half online trying to figure it out lol

    Reply
  6. Sylvain says:

    I cannot even find a way to actually SEE my amount of money in Amazon.com! I have registered 6 pre-paid cards into amazon, all of them with more than 2$ left. Still cannot see how much i have in my Amazon.com account. There seem to be NO WHERE to see the amount of money you have on your account. this is ridiculously complicated for nothing…

    Reply
  7. MooMoo says:

    Doesn’t work for me, don’t know this “transfer the value of any prepaid debit-card that has not expired to your account at Amazon.com.” that you speak of. The only way that’s obvious to do that is through an Amazon gift card aka “reload your balance.” Which as stated requires at least 50 cents. So that claim of being able to get even 5 cents seems to be bollocks.

    Reply
  8. PCB_Rob says:

    I finally got around to trying this, and its awesome. I had five gift cards of varying amounts left on them, I had taken a sharpie and written the remainder on each. I reloaded an Amazon gift card with the remainder on each card and now have about $15 to spend. I shop at Amazon quite often so this is great. Thanks Mary for a great tip!

    Reply
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