Transfer Your Gift Cards to Your Bank or PayPal

by Robyn Wright on July 18, 2012

in Tech

I seem to end up getting prepaid Visa, MasterCard, or American Express gift cards pretty regularly. However, I tend to lose track of them or misplace them often. I know I should be better about it, but I am not. What I really would like is to have those funds put into one of my regular spending accounts. Either my checking account or my PayPal account that I have a debit card for also. Now I have a way to easily do that!

First off, there is a fee for both of these things. 2.7% to 2.75%. Yes, I realize that is losing a little money, but for me the convenience of putting it all together is worth it. Plus I also do not end up with those cards with $1.12 or 72¢.

PayPal-HereOption 1 is PayPal Here – a huge thank you to @CertifiableMom for telling me about this today. You will need a PayPal account for this obviously and it will need to be a business account. I already had this so it was not an issue. Go in and use the free version of PayPal Here on the website. You will need the app for your iPhone also. In the app you can request them to send you the PayPal Here card reader also. Even if you do not have the reader yet you can still input cards by scanning them with the phone camera or manually typing in the numbers – the fee is a tiny bit higher doing it this way. The money is then instantly put into your PayPal account! Super-duper, handy-dandy, EZ-PZ!

Option 2 is Square – a huge thank you to @ericwilborn for sharing this with me – this is what I had heard of first actually. It is also an app and you get the free card reader (to swipe cards in) from them. You just swipe the prepaid card and put in the amount and it will be deposited into your banking account. That is the only option for Square currently – attach it to a banking account, no PayPal accounts.


Important notes. Make sure you register your prepaid gift cards first. Look on the back of the gift card and go to the website they show and follow the onscreen instructions. The zip code seems to be the most important part of this part. While you are there get the exact balance of your card also so you can transfer the full amount to Square or PayPal. Also, because I did have the Square swiper thing already, I tried using it within the PayPal app thinking they both do the same thing, but for whatever reason it did not read the card. No biggie, I have a PayPal reader coming soon too.

I am now a very happy camper to be able to do this. It makes my life simpler! Plus, on top of being able to transfer gift cards I can also take payments from clients at meetings instantly now. Another bonus is that this will make it very easy to share billing with friends when we go out – I can pay the full bill and then I scan their card and take their portion of the payment and have it in my account instantly. Sweet!

Is this a tip you might be able to use yourself or pass on to others?

PS – Don’t forget about my previous post about using up low balance cards to get credit too

DISCLOSURE: NONE – this is just info I am sharing on my own.

© 2012 – 2014, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.

  • terrik

    Oh, this is great.  Hopefully eventually PayPal will come up with something where one won’t have to have a business account to take advantage of this.

    It would also be great on family going in to buy one large gift for parent’s anniversary, child’s graduation, weddings, etc.  Also office gifts where everyone pitches in, this is much easier than dealing with cash (and safer) or writing someone a check for $8.

  • BrandiJeter

    Great tip, Robyn!

  • Paula @ Frosted Fingers

    Thanks for the info! My PayPal Here is on it’s way

  • Cher Kachelmuss

    Great tip!  I have another too that I love since I am an Amazon-aholic:

  • Jammie King Morey

    Thank you so much!!! I am always winning gift cards, would be great to send it to paypal instead of having it on the gc. 

  • Sheila Vives

    Interesting to learn of these services. I appreciate you sharing the information. I like keeping a bit of plastic on me for road emergencies etc, but this could be good for consolidating when I need to make a large single payment for something. 

    • Robyn’s Online World

      Yes – that is one of the reasons I wanted to be able to do it. Especially if I want to buy a plane ticket or something.

  • Sheila Vives

    Question ??? Will the cards be consolidated with these or will I have to use each separately (Visa, American Express, Visa) ?

    • Robyn’s Online World

      The money will then all be in your checking, savings, Paypal (or whatever account) and you use just like regular money then. Just pitch the used up gift cards.

  • Rosey

    This is a great share, thank you!!

  • tannawings

    This is pretty nifty and I figured this was something coming soon (to a phone near you)  Isn’t there another that you don’t need a phone and you just input the numbers? Amazon ? I dont have a smart phone with a data plan so I am looking for the one that you can put small balances on.

  • Claudia C. Davis

    Does Square charge for the device?  How do you get one?

  • Claudia C. Davis

    Another question maybe you can answer…I find a lot of my gift cards wont work online as they have the original purchaser’s information including zip etc and they cannot be registered online (some cards can but some not). Will Square allow me to swipe them and put them in my account?  Those cards I end up piling up until I can use them in a restaurant or store whereas I would rather have the cash less 2.75%

  • Claudia C. Davis

    Last question…I promise…I went on the Square website and there is NO WHERE to contact them with questions.  Do you have a contact? 

    • Robyn Wright

      Hi Claudia – you can find the answer to most of your questions in Square’s help center, and at the bottom of that page is also a “contact us” link for them if you have extra questions you need help with.

  • Tooth Fairy

    After saving a $50 Visa GC (which I rec’d) for several months..I gifted it to the kiddo for birthday. .Was very surpised and disappointed that the balance had gone down to $44 something just for the fees of NOT cashing it in :( Good thing I didn’t wait to stuff it into an xmas stocking!!!! Thanks for sharing your suggestions.

  • James Barcus

    I just got my Square Reader, and I am glad you wrote about it.

    I have both PayPal and Square, so I make it convenient for customers who want to purchase goods and services with me, and I now have an option to those who want to purchase something if I hold a yard sale or something else.

    I’ll bookmark your blog to read further.

    • Robyn Wright

      Glad you found it helpful James!

  • kevinstl

    This is great advice. An alternative is

    Gift Card Drainer will determine the balance of your card for you and then transfer that balance to your PayPal or bank account.

  • Jesus Loves

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  • Rebecca

    All I know is that I have a ton of gift cards that I don’t use right now becuase the balances are low (i.e. target, jcpenney, walmart) and I just wanna transfer them to paypal, but I’m learning that’s probably a no-go there.

    • Robyn Wright

      Yep, Sorry Rebecca but it does not work for store gift cards. I wish it did though. When I have store cards I find the balance and stick a post it note to them with it so when I go to that store I can pay and easily tell the cashier that the gift card has 72¢ on it or whatever and apply that first. A pain in the neck I know, but at least not wasted money. This is why stores love gift cards, they make a bundle in the unused amounts.

    • taylor

      next time you go, you could use the value as a sub total. most stores comply. for instance if u buy something thats 14 dollars and u have a gift card with 32 cents on it, ask them to use the 32 cents off and ull pay the rest with something else.

  • guest

    awesome tip got $35.00 into my paypal account from about 6 old prepaids! ty ty.

    • Robyn Wright


  • Jacob Davis

    I never even thought about using card processing, clever, and it’ll be really useful come Christmas time, because I’d rather just put all those gift debit cards in my savings.

    • Robyn Wright

      Glad you found it helpful!

      • Ordalin Samamt

        it is helpful thank you!

  • ThatGuy2013

    Being that this is considered a “business” transaction, do you have to report this to the IRS and pay taxes on the money from the gift card since it’s considered to be “income”?

  • lmols

    Please update the fee info:
    Start accepting payments quickly with our simple app download and setup. Keyed transactions 3.5% + $0.15: Manually enter a card number or scan a card, at a 3.5% transaction fee plus $0.15. 1% Cross-Border Fee: Accept non-US cards for the standard 2.7% per swipe plus 1% cross-border fee.

  • Punkroku

    Angry cat would be happier if he ate angry birds!!

  • Chance Joseph Watkins

    Great tips. Thanks so much for sharing this article with us; Jesus Christ Bless! :)

    • Robyn Wright

      You’re welcome!

  • Batfreak

    I have a Square device that’s just collecting dust! I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before!!! Thanks!

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