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Did you receive gift cards in your Christmas stocking? Here's how to check card balances and more

CEO Tinh Phung
Did Santa Claus bring you a gift card this Christmas? Year after year, gift cards have remained one of the most popular holiday gifts, and 2021 was no exception. According to the National Retail Federation's...

Did Santa Claus bring you a gift card this Christmas? Year after year, gift cards have remained one of the most popular holiday gifts, and 2021 was no exception. According to the National Retail Federation's annual holiday survey, gift cards ranked second among the most popular gifts of the holiday season, with 46% of shoppers planning to buy an average of three or four cards this year. It was estimated that holiday spending on gift cards would reach $28.1 billion, the highest since 2018. With supply chain challenges, shipping delays, and shortages, more gift cards were expected to find their way into stockings than ever before.

However, the question remains: when will consumers actually redeem these gift cards? Surprisingly, a Bankrate.com poll revealed that 51% of U.S. adults have more than $15.3 billion in unused gift cards, vouchers, and store credit. That amounts to an average of $116 per person in unclaimed gift card value.

Use your Christmas gift cards ASAP

The rule of thumb with gift cards is to use them before you lose them. The Federal Trade Commission advises using gift cards as soon as possible and treating them like cash to get their full value. Additionally, it's essential to use the cards early to mitigate the risk of the retailer or restaurant going out of business. While gift cards are often accepted even after businesses file for bankruptcy, they can quickly become worthless when unexpected closures occur.

"I generally tell people if they have gift cards in their wallet, use them yesterday," says Melissa Jacoby, a bankruptcy law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Check gift card balances (carefully)

When checking your gift card balance, it's crucial to visit the official retailer or card website and ensure that you are in the right place before entering any information. Be cautious to avoid fraudulent websites that may steal your gift card balance, rendering it worthless.

USA TODAY has compiled a list of websites where you can check the balances of popular gift cards for stores, restaurants, and credit cards. It is essential to use the correct links provided and exercise caution when entering your gift card details.

Amazon gift card balance

To check your Amazon gift card balance, you can view it in your account. When you apply a gift card to an order or add it to "Your Account" for future purchases, the balance will be stored. Go to your account, select "Gift cards," and view the balance on your gift cards.

American Express gift card balance

Check the balances on AmEx gift cards and business gift cards at Balance.amexgiftcard.com.

Apple gift card balance

To check the balance of your Apple gift card, visit Support.apple.com/en-us/HT212864.

Best Buy gift card balance

You can check your Best Buy gift card balance at Bestbuy.com/gift-card-balance.

Costco gift card balance

Check your Costco gift card balance, called shop cards, at Costco.com/costco-shop-card.

Dunkin' gift card balance

Dunkin' gift cards can be checked on the app or at Dunkindonuts.com/en/dd-cards/check-balance.

Fortnite V-Bucks gift card balance

According to Epic Games, you need an Epic Games account to redeem a V-Bucks Card code. These cards can be redeemed at Epicgames.com/fortnite/en-US/vbuckscard.

JCPenney gift card balance

Check your JCPenney gift card balance at Jcpenney.com/cart/giftcard.

Home Depot gift card balance

To check the balance on your Home Depot gift card, visit Homedepot.com/mycheckout/giftcard.

Kohl's gift card balance

Check your Kohl's gift card balance using the app or at Kohls.com/giftcard/gift_card_check_balance.jsp.

Lowe's gift card balance

You can check the value of your Lowe's gift card at Lowes.com/l/help/gift-card-balance.

Macy's gift card balance

Macy's gift card balances can be checked at Macys.com/account/giftcardbalance.

Mastercard gift card balance

Check the balance of your Mastercard gift card at Balance.mastercardgiftcard.com.

Nordstrom gift card balance

Visit Nordstrom.com/nordstrom-gift-cards to check the balance on your Nordstrom gift card.

Oculus gift card balance

If you receive store credit, Oculus allows you to check the balance from your settings in the Oculus app. However, you need to add a payment method to your account before being able to use the credit.

PlayStation gift card balance

Learn more about PlayStation gift cards and how to redeem them at Playstation.com/en-us/playstation-gift-cards.

Roblox redeem code

Roblox gift cards can only be redeemed in a browser and not in the Roblox apps. To redeem a card, log in to your account on a browser, go to the "Gift Card Redemption Page," enter the PIN, and select "Redeem" to add the credit to your account.

Sephora gift card balance check

Check the balance of your Sephora gift cards at Sephora.com/beauty/giftcards.

Shein gift card balance

To check the balance of your Shein gift cards, visit Us.shein.com/giftcard.html.

Starbucks gift card balance

To check your Starbucks gift card balance, you can add your gift cards to your Starbucks app or visit Starbucks.com/gift.

Target gift card balance

Check your Target gift card balance at Target.com/guest/gift-card-balance or on the mobile app.

Ulta gift card balance

Visit Ulta.com/guestservices/giftCards.jsp to check your Ulta Beauty gift card balance.

Vanilla gift card balance

According to Visa, you can check your Vanilla gift card balance at Balance.vanillagift.com.

Visa gift card balance

Check your Visa gift card balance at Usa.visa.com/support/consumer/gift-card-balance.html.

Walmart gift card balance

To check your Walmart store gift card balance, go to Walmart.com/account/giftcards/balance.

Xbox gift card balance

For information on how to redeem Xbox codes and gift cards, visit Support.xbox.com/en-US/help/subscriptions-billing/redeem-codes-gifting/types-of-prepaid-codes. You can also redeem your card at Redeem.microsoft.com.

More store and restaurant gift cards

There are numerous other stores and restaurants where you can check your gift card balance. Here are a few examples:

  • Banana Republic: Bananarepublic.gap.com/customerService/info.do?cid=61830
  • Barnes & Noble: Barnesandnoble.com/account/giftcard/checkbalance
  • Bath & Body Works: Bathandbodyworks.com/giftcards
  • Belk: Belk.com/gift-cards/#gift-card-modal
  • Body Shop: Thebodyshop.com/en-us/gift-card-balance
  • eBay: Ebay.com/help/buying/paying-items/ebay-gift-cards?id=4640
  • GameStop: Gamestop.com/giftcards
  • Gap: Gap.com/customerService/info.do?cid=2116#
  • Kroger: Kroger.com/checkGiftCardBalance
  • Old Navy: Oldnavy.gap.com/browse/info.do?cid=35433#giftcardbalance
  • rue21: Rue21.com/store/jump/static/17800001
  • Ulta: Ulta.com/guestservices/giftCards.jsp
  • Victoria's Secret: Victoriassecret.com/us/vs/gift-cards
  • Zara: Zara.com/us/en/z-zara-card/balance

Tips for using gift cards

If you received a gift card, here are some tips to help you make the most of them:

  • Read the fine print: Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of the gift card. Pay attention to whether the card is redeemable only at certain stores or locations.
  • Be aware of fees: Some states prohibit service fees and expiration dates on store gift cards. However, if the card bears the name of a credit card company, stricter rules may apply. These cards typically cannot expire for at least five years and cannot have a service fee deducted unless they have remained unused for 12 months.
  • Take advantage of bonus cards: During the holiday season, select restaurants and stores offer bonus gift cards with purchases. If you receive a bonus gift card (also known as bonus bucks), be sure to check the expiration date and any specific terms and conditions.
  • Protect your card: Some gift cards can be registered as credit cards on websites specified on the card itself. This registration can help protect your card against theft or loss. Additionally, consider taking photos of the front and back of the card or noting down its details. Some companies may replace lost or stolen cards if you can provide specific information. Keep receipts with card details as well.

Remember to use your gift cards wisely and enjoy the rewards they bring. Happy shopping!

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko. For shopping news, tips, and deals, join us in our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group.

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