Many more of us are shopping online as a result of COVID-19 and those new to online shopping may continue to do so in the future due to its many conveniences. Visa gift cards are becoming much more popular since many businesses are not accepting cash during the pandemic. Perhaps you have received a gift of a physical or Virtual Visa gift card or you are considering giving one as a gift? If you are wondering whether they are the same, read further.
Physical Visa Gift Card
A physical Visa Gift Card can be used in person at any business that accepts Visa in person or online. When purchased at a bank or store, it must be activated by the salesperson. Typically, a Visa gift card will not be available for use for 24-48 hours after purchase.
If you are making a purchase whose amount is more than the value of your Visa Gift Card, many businesses will allow you to pay for the balance due with a debit or credit card. For example, if your Visa Gift Card is $75 and you are making a purchase for $120, a business should allow you to pay the remaining $45 using your debit or credit card.
Virtual Visa Card
Virtual Visa Cards can be used to purchase items online or over the phone at any business that accepts Visa. You cannot use your Virtual Visa Card in person.
Limitations of a Virtual Visa Card
If your Virtual Visa Card is $75 and you are making a purchase online for $120, your Virtual Visa Card will be rejected since it does not contain enough for the purchase. You can get around this if the business you are purchasing from offers their own online gift cards also known as egift cards. For example, Hudson’s Bay sells its own eGift cards. In that situation, you would use your Virtual Visa Card worth $75 to buy an egift card worth $75 from Hudson’s Bay, and then you purchase your item costing $120 online from The Bay with your Hudson’s Bay egift card. You then can pay the balance using a credit card. Many businesses will let you pay the balance of the total you owe with a credit card if you have used their egift card towards the total amount.
When is it better to buy a Physical Visa Card?
If the online company you are purchasing from does not offer their own egift cards, then it is better to have a Physical Visa Card since it will be very unlikely that the amount you are spending at the online company will be the same as the amount of your Virtual Visa gift card. As previously stated, if the amount you are spending online is higher than the amount of your Virtual Visa gift card, your Virtual Visa gift card will be rejected. If the amount you are spending online is lower, your Virtual Visa gift card will be accepted, but you will still hold a balance on your Virtual Visa gift card and this balance may be difficult to spend online e.g. you could end up with a balance of $9.73 on your Virtual Visa gift card. In that situation, I would use the $9.73 to buy an Amazon gift card, which can be used for any Amazon purchases.
I hope the above clarifies the differences between a Physical Visa Gift Card and a Virtual Visa Gift Card.
You may be interested in reading, “How to Save Money When Shopping Online“.