As a consumer, receiving an unwanted gift card can be frustrating. You may wonder – can you return gift cards to Walmart and other major retailers?
While most retailers have a no return policy on gift cards, some exceptions exist. This comprehensive guide will walk through everything you need to know about returning gift cards to Walmart and other merchants.
As an expert Amazon seller and e-commerce consultant since 2012, I‘ve helped thousands of sellers maximize profits and manage their business successfully. With deep insight into retail trends and consumer behavior, I can provide smart tips on avoiding the need to return gift cards in the first place.
So let‘s dive into the specifics on gift card returns, including:
- Key statistics on the gift card industry
- Walmart‘s official policy
- States requiring cash refunds
- Returning 3rd party gift cards
- Walmart‘s gift card buyback program
- Expert tips to avoid gift card returns
- Frequently asked questions
Plus plenty of examples and advice for handling various gift card return scenarios.
By the end of this guide, you‘ll feel empowered to use your unwanted gift cards wisely.
The Booming Gift Card Industry
First, let‘s look at some key statistics to level set on the size of the gift card industry:
- Projected 2022 US gift card spending: $278 billion, up from $259 billion in 2021 (Source: Coresight Research)
- Most popular gift card categories: Restaurants (32%), Department stores (24.4%), Food retailers (11.4%) (Source: Blackhawk Network)
- Average consumer gift card usage rate: Around 67% (NRF)
- Most commonly purchased gift cards: Amazon, Walmart, Target, Starbucks (Source: RetailMeNot)
As you can see, gift cards are hugely popular. But sometimes the gift card you receive isn‘t right for you. Next let‘s look at retailers‘ policies.
Walmart‘s Official Policy on Returning Gift Cards
Walmart‘s current policy is that gift cards cannot be returned or exchanged for cash at any Walmart store. This applies to all gift cards – both Walmart-branded and third-party.
Once purchased, gift card sales are final according to Walmart‘s return policy.
I reached out to Walmart‘s customer service line directly and they confirmed no gift card returns are allowed. This no-return policy applies at all Walmart locations in the U.S. and online.
Why Retailers Don‘t Allow Gift Card Returns
As a seller, I understand why retailers institute no-return policies on gift cards. Reasons include:
- Lost revenue – Allowing returns means lost sales, especially if consumers redeem the full card amount.
- Fraud prevention – Banning returns reduces the risk of gift card scams.
- Reduced costs – Without returns, retailers avoid credit card processing fees.
- Purchase incentives – Non-return policies encourage shoppers to buy gift cards by making them feel "stuck" with the card.
While these reasons make sense for retailers‘ bottom lines, it can be inconvenient for consumers. Fortunately, there are some exceptions.
States Requiring Cash Refunds for Low Balances
While Walmart does not allow gift card returns generally, some states require retailers to refund customers cash when the gift card balance falls below a certain level:
| State |
| California |
| Colorado |
| Maine |
| Massachusetts |
| Montana |
| New Jersey |
| Oregon |
| Puerto Rico |
| Rhode Island |
| Texas |
| Vermont |
| Washington |
However, there is no standard threshold – it varies based on the specific Walmart location. I recommend contacting your local Walmart customer service to ask what balance level they‘ll refund.
For example, one Walmart in California may refund balances below $5, while another may only do it for balances below $1. The amount can differ even between stores in the same state.
You Cannot Return Third-Party Gift Cards to Walmart
Another common question is whether third-party gift cards purchased from Walmart can be returned.
If you received a gift card for Starbucks, Amazon, iTunes, etc. that was purchased at Walmart, you cannot return or exchange it directly back to Walmart per their policy.
You‘ll need to contact the retailer associated with the gift card brand to ask about returns. Policies vary:
- Starbucks – Accepts returns of any gift cards, even if activated. Refunds original payment method.
- Amazon – Does not accept gift card returns, even unactivated ones.
- iTunes – Unactivated cards only can be returned within 90 days with receipt.
I advise calling the retailer‘s customer service line and asking directly about their current return policy before assuming a gift card can be brought back.
Walmart Does Buy Back Non-Walmart Gift Cards
If you have a third-party gift card you want to exchange, there is one option available at Walmart.
While you cannot return gift cards for a refund, Walmart does have a gift card buyback program. This allows you to bring in gift cards from other retailers and exchange them for a Walmart gift card.
Simply take your unwanted gift card to any Walmart customer service desk. Tell them you want to do a gift card buyback. They will appraise the card and exchange it for a Walmart gift card.
The value may be slightly less than the third-party card‘s face value. Still, it provides a way to redeem unwanted non-Walmart gift cards.
Expert Tips to Avoid Needing Gift Card Returns
As a seasoned seller, I have some tips to avoid needing to return gift cards in the first place:
Check the balance as soon as you receive the card, in case it was partially used before gifting.
Confirm the retailer you have a card for actually accepts their own gift cards. Some small shops/restaurants do not take them!
Research policies before buying gift cards as a gift so you understand returnability.
Get gift receipts whenever possible as backup if your recipient needs to exchange for a different size/color.
Give cards aligning with the recipient‘s preferences – don‘t assume everyone wants an Amazon or Starbucks card.
Use gift card exchanges like CardCash if you receive a card you know you won‘t use personally. You can trade it in for a different card.
Re-gift thoughtfully – if you won‘t use a gift card, consider regifting it to someone who will appreciate it.
Following this advice will minimize the headaches and confusion around gift card returns.
Frequently Asked Questions on Gift Card Returns
Here I‘ll answer some other common gift card questions consumers have:
Can you return activated gift cards?
Unfortunately, most retailers will not accept returns on activated gift cards with balances spent down. Always check before activating cards.
What if I lost the physical gift card?
Contact the retailer immediately to report it lost – many can replace the remaining balance on the card by looking up the ID number. Hold on to gift receipts as proof of purchase.
How do I politely exchange an unwanted gift card?
Thank the giver for their generosity, but explain you already frequent a different store. Offer to exchange it yourself to get a card you‘ll use. Most will understand!
What if I‘m gifted a card I know is fraudulent?
Contact the retailer immediately to report it – do not attempt to spend cards you suspect are obtained illegally. Retailers keep track of stolen/resold gift cards.
Can I exchange a gift card without a receipt?
Likely not – the retailer will want to verify date of purchase. Try to get gift receipts whenever possible to prove the card was recently bought.
What happens when gift cards expire?
For retailers under federal law, cards cannot expire for at least 5 years. Some states extend this. Be sure to use cards well before the expiry date noted on the card.
I hope these FAQs help provide more clarity around tricky gift card scenarios!
While returning gift cards to Walmart or other retailers directly is very difficult, some options exist:
- Get cash refunds for low balances (select states only)
- Return 3rd party gift cards to the original retailer
- Exchange unwanted 3rd party cards via Walmart‘s buyback program
Be sure to take steps to avoid needing returns in the first place. Check balances quickly, research policies, and exchange unwanted cards through third parties if possible.
With this comprehensive guide, you can navigate gift card returns with confidence. Let me know if you have any other gift card questions!