What to Do When Your Gift Card is Drained

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

 

Many times, those of us in the hobby like to buy gift cards at grocery stores or office supply stores. You can earn elevated points and use them to pay bills or shop online. It is always important to know the risk involved with the potential rewards of these purchases. You may run into an issue like I experienced on August 4, 2020. I went to use my card and found exactly one cent left on it. My heart sank. Here is how it happened and what you need to do to get your money back.

The Purchase

Staples was running one of their great deals on $200 Visa gift cards where the $6.95 activation fees are waived. I went to a Staples I had not used. Interestingly enough, the month before, I stopped here and found some Mastercard gift cards that had the backs removed. This is usually a sign of fraudulent activity, so I pulled them off the shelf and gave them to the clerk. On August 3,2020 I bought five $200 Visa Gift cards as allowed per the offer. I used my Chase Ink Cash, which offers a sign-up bonus of $500/50,000 Ultimate Rewards after $3,000 spend in 3 months and no annual fee. The CIC also offers 5%/5x at office supply stores (hence why I used it at Staples) up to $25,000 per card anniversary year. My plan was to utilize them quickly, which is a good practice. I had bills to pay and grocery shopping to do.

The Drain

On August 4, 2020, the day after I purchased the gift cards, I attempted to make a purchase at the grocery store. Exactly one cent came off the amount. I knew immediately what had happened. Nonetheless, I tried again and then rushed home. The card was used earlier that day for exactly $199.99. Blackhawk Network handles service for the MetaBank gift cards sold at Staples. After calling Blackhawk, I learned that Blackhawk requires the charge to clear before it can be disputed.

However, I wanted to document by calling. I also contacted the company where the charge was made. It was an online jewelry store based in Brooklyn, NY. I made them aware it was a fraudulent charge and gave them the last four of card used and amount upon request. They did not seem too concerned, honestly, but I felt I did my part.

The Process

Once the charge officially posted, I called and asked to dispute the charge. The customer service representative was friendly and filled out much of the form for me and assigned me a case number. She informed me they would email me the form to complete and sign off on. I did have to follow-up with them as they sent the form to the wrong email address. A quick phone call fixed it.

I filled it out and emailed it to them. There was a lot of back-and-forth, as they do not acknowledge receipt of your forms or any emails automatically.  Each time, I would email after a few days to confirm receipt. They wanted more and more documentation. In total they requested:

  • The Dispute form
  • A copy of the purchase receipt or activation receipt for the card referenced above
  • A picture of the front and back of the card
  • If the card was purchased with a credit or debit card, please provide the bank statement reflecting the card purchase (yes, really. I blacked out all other charges except this one)
  • Any other relevant information pertinent to my case (For example, I mentioned that I called the jewelry company)

The most interesting part of the email stated: “If we do not hear from you within 10 business days, we will consider this case resolved and closed. Please respond to this email with all information requested.”

In other words, you better be checking that junk folder and adding them to your safe sender list. After sending all requested documentation, I just waited until the investigation was completed.

Final Thoughts

I was happy to see an email show up on September 29,2020. In total, eight weeks from the date of drain. I was notified they would be sending me a new card in the mail. As you can see, it is important to keep receipts in case this happens to you. Gift cards are a valuable item that can earn elevated points, but always know the risk-reward factor. In this case, I am getting my money back, but not without some work and time.

Have you had this happen to you? Come over to our Facebook group and let us know your thoughts.

 

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

 

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