International Gift Cards

Originally published at: International Gift Cards | Go VisaFree

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 a Gift Card

Firstly, a gift card could be a prepaid card that is representative of a business in which you’ve placed a certain amount of funds on a company card that can then be used to purchase goods from that said company. In other situations, gift cards can also be used as tokens to redeem certain items. For example, you could purchase an item and represent it through a redeemable gift card. This will then allow someone else to acquire the item that was purchased via the gift card.

How Do 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.

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.

Transaction Fees

Something very easy to miss when topping up a gift card is the trap of transaction fees. If you’re purchasing or redeeming a gift card from a store chain or website brand, then usually these transaction fees won’t get in the way. However, if you’re redeeming or topping up a card in association with a bank or a similar business then there can be a lot of hidden transaction fees involved.

For example, these transaction fees can include the likes of a monthly usage or inactivity fee of up to $10, or even the likes of ATM fees that can rise to more than $6 per transaction that you complete, along with foreign transaction fees that can be up to almost 3 percent every time they are used. This is why it’s so vitally important to ensure that you’re fully aware of the transaction fees involved when using a prepaid card.


So there you have it. We hope we’ve been able to simply describe what a gift card is. Along with that, we hope this article has been able to identify just some of the popular gift card brands that can be used both domestically and internationally. 

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

For further reading, check out our Where To Buy International Visa Cards article.