Giving gift cards for birthdays and holidays used to be a taboo, but today, we're wistfully feeling every birthday card's weight to see if it might have one. While you can get gift cards for just about every store, game, or activity, Visa gift cards are the no-holds barred option of the gift card world.
But, if you're stocking up on them to give to friends and family, those activation fees on prepaid cards can add up. Save yourself some money by choosing one of these Visa gift cards that have no activation fees.
Visa Gift Card Options With No Activation Fees
Although online shopping is bigger than ever, most Visa gift cards (like the Vanilla Visa, which has plenty of other perks and benefits) still have activation fees (even the digital ones). However, there are a small number of places that offer Visa gift cards without these fees.
Navy Federal Credit Union
Navy Federal Credit Union offers Visa gift cards to their members. Their Visa gift cards come in increments ranging from $10-$500 for physical cards and $10-$200 for digital ones.
Don't worry about forgetting one of these babies in your wallet and losing all your cash — the funds never expire. And, you can even add them to mobile wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay, according to their website.
You can buy these gift cards online or at a local branch, with cash, a Navy Federal Debit Card, or Navy Federal Credit Card.
Republic Bank offers fee-free Visa gift cards to their customers. You can get these non-reloadable gift cards in $25-$1,000 amounts and they can be used internationally at any business or service that takes Visa.
To purchase one of these fee-free Visa gift cards from Republic Bank, visit one of the locations near you.
If you can't find a card without an activation fee, consider that the activation cost of most Visa gift cards ranges from about $3-$5 — but it gives the recipient the flexibility to get anything they really want or need. If you want to ensure you're giving a gift the person can use, that small cost could be money well spent.
Stop by & Ask Your Local Financial Institutions
Not every local bank or credit union advertises all the services they have on their website. Small operations might offer Visa gift cards that don't have activation fees to their customers, but you won't know until you ask. Call or stop by the local branch to see just what kinds of gift cards — if any — they offer.
Check in with businesses too to see if any run promotions throughout the year. For example, Staples has a reputation for cutting fees on their Visa gift cards every so often.
Consider a Visa Prepaid Card
While there was a time that multiple banks and businesses offered activation-free Visa gift cards, most places have transitioned to Visa prepaid cards. Although Visa prepaid cards — like NetSpend's Prepaid Cards — aren't the same as gift cards, it's easier to find them without activation fees. Given that these cards aren't meant for single use but multi-use, they do come with variable monthly fees.
So, depending on the situation, this kind of card might be a better alternative to the gift cards, considering you have to belong to the banks offering those fee-less gift cards to get them.
Other Ways to Gift Without Fees
If you want to avoid the fees, or even save, there are a few other ways you can give your gift.
- Go old school and give cash in a creative way.
- Get store or restaurant-specific gift cards at a warehouse store like Costco or Sam's Club that offers discounts with bulk packs of gift cards.
- Buy reduced-price gift cards around the holidays when retailers and restaurants offer promotions.
- Send the gift recipient money through Cash App, Venmo, or Paypal with a unique or funny message attached.
- Visit Maven's Gift Guides to find options like truly unique gifts for kids, best-smelling body washes, and gifts for the bakers in your life that they won't be able to resist.
- Or, just get a gift you think they'd like from a place that has a fantastic return policy, so you know that the person can return it if they don't love it.
You Can't Beat Cost-Effective Gift Giving
Although Visa gift cards with no activation fees save you some money upfront, they still might come with other expenditures like sales tax or covering the cost of a lost card. To really make gift giving cost-effective, read through all the terms and conditions so you know it's the right choice for you.