English: Ebay and PayPal headquarters located ...

English: Ebay and PayPal headquarters located in San Jose, California, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have ever gotten one of those gift cards, (Mastercard, Visa, and American Express all have them with nearly all banks promoting them heavily at the holidays) you may have discovered that they are very difficult to use. Sure, the advertisers want you to believe that your Citibank, Bank of America, Commerce or whatever your bank’s name is Gift Card is easy to use anywhere. In practice, however, most stores, particularly restaurants, have a lot of trouble with these cards and, even if you manage to use it, it can sometimes be near impossible to use the unused portion. With most of them expiring (IE, the bank starts taking the money back) anywhere from 6 months to a year after they are issued, most people let the frustration of trying to use these cards win out and let the remaining balance default back to the issuing bank.

If you are like me, it burns you to have to give up those dollars or cents left on that card. But never fear! Even if there are only a few cents left on your gift card, you can apply any amount to your eBay account, thereby making sure that you get use out of every last drop of your gifted money and that the bank doesn’t get to keep a penny of it.

This process can be a little tricky so I am going to walk you through it step by step below.

Please note that the following method will work no matter how your eBay account is set up to pay your bill and will also work regardless of which bank or credit card company issued the card. It also works for both gift credit and debit cards, no matter how little money is left on the account.

  1. First, determine exactly how much is left on the gift card. If the gift card is unused, this will be pretty simple as it will say it on the card itself. If you have used a portion of it (or if it is past the expiration date and they have started to take some of the money back) you will need to check with the issuing bank how much is left. Take a look at your gift card. They all feature either a website, phone number or both where you can check how much money is left on the card. Write this remaining amount down exactly to the penny. (Note: these cards put a “hold” on the money for each failed attempt to use it. If you try to come home and do this process after just having the card fail at a store, this may not work until a day or so has passed and the hold is off.) My $25 gift card has $7.35 left on it so I am going to write that down.
  2. Log into your eBay account.
  3. Go to My eBay > My Account > Seller Account.
  4. Under eBay Seller Fees, click the link called “You can make a one-time payment using PayPal or another payment method.” (Please note that it is best to do this right before your usual auto-payment happens as eBay will give you a hard time with this process if your balance is zero.)
  5. On the next screen, there is the option to pay via PayPal. Ignore this. Below this box, there is a link called “Pay with your credit card.” Click this link.
  6. You may be asked to log in again. Do so if asked.
  7. The next screen will be pre-filled in with your current credit card on record. Under the payment box, click “Use a different credit card.”
  8. In the payment amount box, write in the exact number that we got in the first step. For me, that is $7.35.
  9. Now fill in all gift card details below like you would for any other credit card purchase.
  10. Continue and then authorize this one time payment.

You are all set. Now eBay has taken my $7.35 and I can finally throw this annoying card out with the satisfaction that the bank didn’t get that money back. If you have additional cards, you can go back and repeat this process as many times as you like. This will not affect whatever your normally scheduled eBay payment method is as eBay will just bill the remaining portion of your invoice after the funds from the debit card.

Any questions, other suggestions or thanks, please post below.