Prepaid gift cards are a pain in the ass

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 29, 2011, 10:28 PM | comments: 0

A couple of months ago, I got a $50 AMEX gift card at work. Truth be told, I don't remember why exactly, but it was a nice gesture. In any case, I figured that the best way to use it was an all-or-nothing transaction.

So earlier today I order something online for more than fifty bucks, and it lets me pay two ways. I send $50 to the gift card, and put the rest on my regular credit card. An hour later, I get e-mail that says they can't make the charge and blah blah blah. Shit. OK, so let's see what the balance says.

I go to the AMEX site to find that the vendor did a $1 auth against the card, which means that they can't then do a full $50 auth against the card, because it's only worth $50. Shit again. Later I decide to look deeper into it, bring up the AMEX site again, and find that they've attempted a second auth against it, this time for some random $29.32. So now there are two authorizations against it, neither of which is the $50 I wanted to use it for.

I guess I could hate on the vendor for doing random test authorizations against the card, but I'm still not impressed. The user experience for the cards just isn't very good.


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