International Gift Cards

International Gift Cards

Gift cards are a common form of gratitude expression given to friends and family members. They’re also great if you’re a frequent traveler as you don’t have to carry a wallet that is full of credit cards. 

In this article, we’ll be going over some varying aspects of gift cards. We’ll be looking at what exactly a gift card is while explaining how they work.  

Let’s begin!

What Is an International Gift Card

The world is growing smaller, and yes, international gift cards are part of that shrinking landscape. Brands like American Express, Mastercard, Discover, and Visa have transformed the way we spend across the globe. But it’s not all smooth sailing.

While these major players may appear as ubiquitous, their global spending rates can play tricks on you. International fees and currency exchange rates may decrease or even eliminate your gift card’s value. Understanding your chosen card’s international recognition is crucial, especially before you hit checkout.

Some of the big names, such as American Express and Discover, rarely cross the U.S. border. On the other hand, some international Visa and Mastercard gift cards come with global acceptance, along with clear listings of any associated fees and regulations. So, whether for leisure or business, knowledge is your best ally.

How Do International Gift Cards Work

As we’ve mentioned earlier, a gift card is a form of payment that is most often used to acquire items from particular retailers or stores. How a gift card works is that you essentially place a certain amount of set funds onto a card, which can range from anywhere from €5 to €200 in most retailers for example. Once you have placed the funds on the gift card, you can then use it yourself or give it to someone else to allow them to spend the placed funds at the possible locations where it’s accepted.

With gift cards, there are usually two types. That being, open-loop or closed-loop gift cards. An open-loop card can be made use of anywhere where the card is redeemable. An example of this is if you have a gift card that is branded with Visa, then this gift card is usable in any location that Visa is deemed acceptable.

However, with a closed-loop card, they are restricted to certain merchants or services. For example, an Amazon or Steam gift card can only be used to purchase goods from Amazon or Steam, not anywhere else.

Are Prepaid Cards Good for International Travel?

Prepaid cards might sit on the same shelf as gift cards, but they dance to a different tune. While they offer reloadable convenience, their international use isn’t a given. Even well-recognized Visa or Mastercard prepaid cards may limit you to domestic spending only.

Options like Visa Travel Money, on the other hand, are created with this exact problem in mind. With fewer rules and smart budgeting solutions, they can be your travel companion. Just be aware of their protective clauses and restrictions.

Which Gift Cards Work Internationally and Which Don’t

Despite a lot of brand names being internationally known, it’s quite common for their gift cards to be regionally specific. That means they can only be redeemed in certain locations. We’ll be going over just some of the places that sell gift cards and whether or not they can be redeemed internationally or not.

Mastercard and Visa

Mastercard and Visa are pretty much the same things at their core. Visa and Mastercard do work internationally, however, they have to be identified as internationally transmissible gift cards, as there is also a regionally locked version of their gift cards.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard

In association with Mastercard, PayPal prepaid cards also work completely unrestricted and internationally across the globe.


Amazon is unique in the sense that it has many different international variants of its websites. Amazon in that sense provides gift cards that are unique to each website that sells them. For example, if you purchase a gift card from the United Kingdom version of the Amazon website, then it will need to be redeemed in the United Kingdom to be usable.


iTunes is a perfect example of the gift card trap that many people can fall into. That being, although Apple is a globally known company, their iTunes gift cards don’t represent this, and can only be redeemed in the United States of America.


Although Walmart is gradually becoming an international brand, it still doesn’t sell international gift cards. All gift cards purchased in the United States of America need to be spent there.

American Express

American Express is strictly only redeemable in the United States of America.

Home Depot

Home Depot is a company that does accept its gift cards internationally. Well, technically. Home Depot only allows for their gift cards to be redeemed in-store or online in the United States of America, Mexico, or Canada.

International Prepaid Cards: Fees and Popular Options

Prepaid and gift cards are handy replacements for ATM or credit cards when traveling. But it’s crucial to note the possible transaction fees. Most individual shops are flexible, but bank-related prepaid cards might have extra fees, including up to $10 for monthly usage or inactivity, $6 for loading or ATM transactions, and 3% for foreign transactions. Always read the fine print before purchasing any prepaid or gift card.

While most gift cards are domestic, Mastercard and Visa debit cards, prepaid or otherwise, are often globally usable.

Some Top International Visa and Mastercard Gift Cards:

  • AAA MemberPay Visa Prepaid Card
  • Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card
  • TD Connect Reloadable Prepaid Card (fewer fees for TD cardholders)
  • Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card
  • Visa Travel Money

And for Mastercard:

  • Green Dot Prepaid Mastercard
  • Netspend® Mastercard Prepaid Card
  • PayPal Prepaid Mastercard
  • Travelex Money Card – promoted by Mastercard International Incorporated

Remember to read the fine print and FAQs, so you aren’t caught off guard by unexpected or costly surprises abroad due to your chosen card’s limitations. Safe travels!


International prepaid and gift cards are a useful travel companion. Be mindful of potential fees and always read the fine print. Consider the best options for international use, such as Mastercard and Visa, and remember to handle them carefully, especially considering the risks associated with theft.

For those who travel frequently, a thorough understanding of the various cards and their limitations ensures a smoother journey abroad. Whether for personal use or business, knowing where to purchase these cards and how to properly utilize them will make the travel experience more convenient and hassle-free.

Have you ever used a gift card? Let us know about your experience…

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to Purchase International Gift Cards?

Find international gift cards at financial institutions or regular gift card retailers like Walmart, Target, Kroger, and Costco.

These cards might not be labeled “International.” Check the fine print on the card’s wrapper for usage locations and any international transaction fees.

Can All Visa Prepaid Cards Be Used Internationally?

Most Visa prepaid cards are international, but watch out for fees. Merchant limitations might also apply. Due to fraud risks, international gift cards often come only in physical format.

Need an international eGift card? Your best option might be purchasing a country-specific online gift card, like Amazon’s international electronic gift cards.

Registering an International Gift Card:

If registration is needed, it’s simple:

  1. Visit the gift card registration page (as indicated on the gift card or packaging).
  2. Follow the instructions to register your details.
  3. Use a personal or non-work email for account login and verification.


What If an International Gift Card Is Stolen?

Replacement might be possible with a receipt if the card issuer is contacted promptly. However, most cases result in a loss, similar to stolen cash. Pay attention to your gift cards and their whereabouts.

Can Amazon, Walmart, Mastercard, and Visa Gift Cards Be Used Internationally?

Travelers often expect widely recognized gift cards to be accepted everywhere. However, many are restricted to domestic use. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Amazon: Different sites for each country, cards are region-specific.
  • Best Buy: Only valid in the U.S.
  • Home Depot: May accept cards throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Check online for details.
  • iTunes: U.S. use only.
  • Walmart: U.S. use only.
  • Whole Foods: U.S. use only.
  • American Express: U.S. use only.
  • Mastercard and Visa: Global acceptance, but must be marked for international use.

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