Can Stores Track Gift Cards

It can be exciting to receive a gift card for your favorite store mainly because it gives you a reason to go to that particular store rather than using an excuse to use the money towards other expenses. But, since these are typically not registered automatically on a website or account, it can be hard to keep track of what you have spent and what remains. So, how would one go by keeping track of the remaining balance, and can stores themselves track their gift cards?

Yes, stores can track their own gift cards through their system and usually will provide an available balance in your receipt. Seeing that stores can track their gift cards, they are also providing ways for users to track them as well.

Retailers can track gift card amounts easily by customers talking to a cashier or having customers visit an online portal and submit the gift card information. As long as the customer has the gift card in their possession and can provide the numbers in the back, retailers should be fine with pulling their remaining balance.

Stores Can Pull The Balance at the Register

When you are shopping at stores and arriving to check out your items, the cashier can swipe or scan your gift card and let you know the remaining balance. While cashiers can do this, keep in mind that they can pull that information for gift cards that are for the store they are working in.

Additionally, cashiers may ask for identification before they can pull the information in their system and, in some cases, will link your ID to the gift card itself. If a customer does not wish to go in person to see their balance, they can always call the main number of the retailer to see what portion of their balance remains.

Often the cashier will provide written proof of the remaining balance by printing a receipt for the customer that highlights that information. The receipt often states the remaining balance with the last couple of digits of the gift card.

Registering Your Gift Card to an Online Account

You can register your gift cards to your account through many retailers, like Target or Home Depot. Consumers can create an account and link the gift cards on their website by providing the card number and security code on the back. Once uploaded, the amount on the card will show on the online portal, and users can use it to make online purchases or even make physical purchases at the store.

Target is one of many stores that are doing this. Even retail stores, like Sephora, provides a similar option for their consumers. Allowing them to link their gift cards helps consumers track better their remaining balance or reload their cards to add more money.

Also, companies like Starbucks allow customers to consolidate their gift card funds into one card and tie their gift cards to a rewards system that eventually leads to free coffee.

Reloading a gift card allows consumers the added benefit of not needing to link a credit or debit card to a specific retailer. And, for those that tend to spend more than they budget, it can help create a system to prevent overspending.

Another benefit is that by linking the card to your store account, you can access that information whenever you log in from a computer or through that retailer’s designated app. Having this information available this way allows for more flexibility, so that gift cards get used.

Very often, it happens to customers who realize that they left their gift card at home and cannot use it. In addition, if the store has an app where the card is loaded, it often allows the cashier to scan from the app and use it to pay for the items.

Beware! Scammers Want Your Gift Cards

While not surprising, scammers have picked up this trend within the last couple of years since gift cards are hard to trace and even harder to get your money back. Gift cards are an easy and convenient way to buy and provide instant funds once the cashier activates. However, these cards usually are not tied to a particular person or have security measures put into place that would protect the gift card’s intended recipient.

That is what becomes the problem. Since these cards are acquired and spent quickly, by the time law enforcement gets involved, it is already too late. Gift cards are technically cash, and scammers are loading or acquiring cards with high amounts on them and spending them just as quickly.

Scammers target people primarily through the phone, posing as a government entity or tech support. They claim that the only way to fix a type of debt owed is by the victim purchasing a gift card or giving a number of a gift card from the store. If you receive these calls, you must not comply but reach out to the agency in question and clarify that the call was legitimate.

What Are Stores Doing to Prevent this Scam

Not all stores have set preventative measures yet, but many are limiting the amount of cash that can be loaded onto a gift card. Additionally, they are limiting how much can be spent per transaction and per day to help minimize fraud.

Stores, like Home Depot, ask that consumers tie their state-issued driver’s license or ID to the gift card. This way, the only person able to use the gift card is the person to that it was issued.

The Takeaway

Gift cards are a popular and easy way to give someone a gift to their perfect store. Most stores can quickly tell you the remaining balance on a gift card, and some offer the option to link it to your account on their websites. Online linking can give some protection from scammers and also give you the ability to easily apply the gift card towards an online order.

So, what are you doing with your gift cards now that you know they can have their balances checked? Are you planning to link it to your online account or go to the store? Customers can go to the store, check online, or even call the main number to hear what remains of their gift card balance.

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