If you’ve ever struggled with gift giving, a gift card is the easy answer. Not only does it solve your gift problem, but it could also be a rewarding choice for you too if you use your rewards credit card to buy it. However, there are some caveats to be aware of.
Here’s what to know about buying a gift card with a credit card and whether it’s the right move for you.
Reasons to buy a gift card with a credit card
Using your credit card to buy a gift card could put some of the cost back into your account. If you have a flat-rate cash-back credit card, you can earn cash back for buying the gift card. It’s also a good way to earn rewards for a purchase type not covered by your card.
Here’s how it works: let’s say you have a credit card that earns rewards for grocery purchases. You’ll use this credit card to buy gift cards to other retailers at your grocery store, earning whatever elevated rate your credit card offers on that purchase. You then spend the gift card at the store you want to shop at. Doing so will essentially let you earn the elevated “grocery store” rate on purchases you make with the gift card bought.
For example, if you use the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express to buy an Amazon.com gift card at a U.S. supermarket, then use the Amazon.com gift card to pay for your Amazon.com purchase, you could essentially earn 6% back (on the first $6,000 spent annually, then 1%) -- the Blue Cash Preferred’s U.S. supermarket cash-back rate -- on your Amazon.com purchase instead of 1% back (the Blue Cash Preferred’s cash back rate on purchases outside of its elevated rewards categories).
You can also use this strategy to earn rewards on gift cards you’re gifting to further maximize your rewards potential.
Does purchasing a gift card count as a cash advance?
In some instances, your credit card issuer might consider purchasing a gift card as a cash advance. A cash advance -- essentially a short-term loan pulled from your line of credit -- typically comes with its own fees, which could make buying a gift card even more expensive.
You should check with your card issuer to see how it codes buying gift cards. You can do this by calling your issuer or checking your card’s terms -- this will outline what constitutes a cash advance, as well as which purchases are eligible to earn rewards. Depending on your issuer, you may also be able to call and have cash advances turned off on your card altogether. That way, you won’t get hit with any unexpected fees.
Best credit cards for buying gift cards
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
The most rewarding choice
The Blue Cash Preferred can’t be beaten when it comes to rewards for U.S. supermarket purchases and select U.S. streaming subscriptions. It earns an unmatched 6% cash back for both, but its U.S. supermarket rewards are capped at $6,000 in spending annually before the rate falls to 1%. You’ll receive cash back as Reward Dollars which you can redeem for a statement credit.
It does have a $95 annual fee (with a $0 intro annual fee for your first year), but you’ll likely earn enough in rewards just from its U.S. supermarket category to essentially cover it.
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets is one of the highest rates on the market, and you can apply that rate to other retailers by buying gift cards at grocery stores.
By buying gift cards from a U.S. supermarket, earning 6% cash back on the purchase and then spending those gift cards at another retailer, you can essentially earn 6% cash back on those purchases. That means you can effectively earn that high cash-back rate at other stores too.
You can read more in our Blue Cash Preferred review.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best for dining
The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card* earns a surprisingly high return for a number of popular purchases, despite not charging an annual fee. It earns good rewards for dining and entertainment, but it also offers a competitive rate at grocery stores, which could put it on the same playing field as a flat-rate cash rewards card like the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card.
You can use the SavorOne to buy gift cards at the grocery store to earn 3% cash back at other stores, adding a dash of flexibility to what’s typically a more rigid rewards structure.
You can read more in our Capital One SavorOne review.
Citi Custom Cash® Card
Best for flexible rewards
The Citi Custom Cash® Card* has more fluidity to its rewards program than the Blue Cash Preferred and the SavorOne. You’ll earn the highest rewards -- 5% cash back (on the first $500 spent per billing cycle, then 1%) -- for the top eligible spend category you spend the most on each billing cycle. One of the categories the card offers is grocery stores.
That means so long as you use the card mostly for your grocery store spending, you’ll earn 5% cash back -- a higher rate than any other no-annual-fee credit card provides. Just keep an eye on your spending, as your rewards will fall to 1% once you spend $500 each billing cycle.
Using the card to purchase gift cards at the grocery store could extend that strong rate to other purchase types, expanding on the card’s earning potential.
You can read more in our Citi Custom Cash card review.
Correction: An earlier version of this article was assisted by an AI engine, and it mischaracterized the use of a credit card to purchase gift cards or reload prepaid cards. Those points were all corrected. This version has been substantially updated by a staff writer.
*All information about the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Citi Custom Cash Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
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