Why was my gift card declined when I tried to use it?
If an authorization request for more than the available balance on your card is attempted, it will be declined. Check the card balance and ask the clerk to run the transaction for the exact balance on the gift card. Some merchants' POS systems may automatically authorize purchases for an amount greater than your bill e.g., so gratuity may be added. See below for tips if your card is declined at a specific type of merchant.
  • Restaurants: Restaurants often authorize 20 percent more than your bill total so gratuity can be added. Check your balance and ask the waiter to run the transaction for the exact balance on the gift card. Pay the remaining balance and the tip separately.
  • Salons: Similar to restaurants, salons, spas and other services businesses may authorize greater than the amount of your bill so you can a tip on the card. Ensure that the cashier authorizes the card for no greater than the remaining balance. In this case you should leave the remaining balance and tip in cash or using another form of payment.
  • Gas Stations: When using your gift card at a gas station, pay inside. Tell the attendant how much you have on your gift card and how much you wish to purchase. Using the gift card at the gas pump may result in a declined transaction because many gas stations automatically authorize the card for $75 or more. If your gift card does not have a balance of at least $75, it will likely be declined.
  • Hotels: When checking in to a hotel, your card is often authorized for greater than the cost of your stay in case of incidentals. To avoid your gift card being declined for this reason, use a credit card to check in and then pay your bill at checkout using your gift card.

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