Mastercard gift cards are a popular alternative to giving someone cash or a paper check. In some cases, you or the recipient of the prepaid gift card will need to register the form of payment before it can be used. Registration is not always required to begin using the card, so it is important to review the instructions provided by the seller of the card. Still, registration can help protect your balance in case the card is lost or stolen.
Mastercard Gift Cards
Mastercard gift cards are an alternative to retailer-specific cards, like those for Amazon or Target. In almost all cases, you can pay for goods and services using the card at any business that accepts Mastercard. The same is also true of Visa gift cards or American Express cards if you have a prepaid gift card that is branded as Visa or American Express instead. Many prepaid gift card recipients appreciate being able to choose how they spend their gift card funds rather than being restricted to making a purchase from a single business.
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In addition, users of Mastercard gift cards have similar protections that are offered by credit card companies when it comes to protecting the balance of a lost or stolen card or a card that has been compromised by fraud.
Another fun aspect of purchasing a Mastercard gift card is that the cards come in a range of themes, patterns and colors. You can select a card that suits an occasion, such as a birthday, or choose one that is in a pattern or style that you think the recipient will appreciate. This makes the payment method a nice option for gifting.
Registration vs. Activation
Unlike credit or debit cards, a Mastercard gift card does not have your name on it and is not connected to you at the time of purchase. While this provides you with some anonymity when using the card, there is a downside: Since the card is not connected to you, you may have difficulty getting a new card or reinstating the card balance if your card is lost or stolen.
In fact, Mastercardgiftcard.com states that it cannot reinstate funds or take action on a card if you do not have the card information and the card hasn't been registered to you. Registration prevents a situation in which you can't claim a refund because you simply don't have the card's information. You also are unlikely to be able to get cash back from the issuing bank as you could with an actual credit card.
Activation is a separate step that some retailers of gift cards may require. Activating a card ensures that you will be able to use it. If the card that you have requires activation, you will not be able to use it until you've completed the process. This is not required for many Mastercard gift cards.
An example of a retailer that could require activation is Walmart. Walmart only requires activation if a gift card is purchased online for more than $250 or for a bulk purchase of 25 cards or more. Walmart supplies information on how to complete the activation process at the time of purchase. Other retailers may have similar policies, so it's a good idea to check when making a gift card purchase and see the rules from the issuer.
Register a Mastercard Gift Card
An extra step that you can take is to register Mastercard gift cards at balance.mastercardgiftcard.com or by calling the customer service number on the back of the card. When you do this, you connect your card to yourself, making it easier to report the card lost or stolen. This will also allow you to check balance information by using your account or gift card number to ensure you have sufficient funds for an upcoming purchase. Keep in mind that your available balance is all you will be able to spend on the card, and in most cases, prepaid gift cards are not reloadable.
The process to register Mastercard gift cards is very similar to activating a new credit card or a bank debit card. Have the card in front of you and follow the instructions provided in the phone system or on the Mastercard gift card website. You may need to provide information from the back of your card or your name or phone number. Be sure to click there directly and do not navigate from any third-party site when entering personal information about your card, as scams are common online.
Mastercard encourages recipients of its gift cards to make a record of the card number, expiration date, security code and customer service number. Doing this can protect the balance of your card if it goes missing.
For some, the ease of giving prepaid gift cards may make them the perfect gift, and they can be as easy on your bank account as you need them to be since you are able to give however much your budget allows.