Manufactured Spending

The Trick to Buying Money Orders with MasterCard Gift Cards

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about whether you can buy money orders with a Metabank MasterCard gift card. Giftcards.com offers a higher cash back rate (1.25%) on MasterCard gift cards than Visa gift cards (1%). Buying MasterCard gift card works out $6.25 cheaper per $2500 than Visa gift cards. That’s a $250 saving on $100,000 worth of gift cards (enough for a roundtrip  business class award ticket to Asia using Alaska miles). The problem with MasterCard gift cards is actually using them to pay for Walmart money orders. It’s kind of tricky, but thanks to some reader feedback and trial-and-error, I was able to figure it out.

Metabank MasterCard Gift Cards from Giftcards.com
Metabank MasterCard Gift Cards

The issue with MasterCard gift cards is that they initially get processed like credit cards. That’s problematic because Walmart registers are hard-coded to reject credit cards for money order purchases. The work-around has always been to hit the “cancel/change payment” and then select the “debit option.” I’ve done this successfully at Walmart stores in the past which, unfortunately, are no longer MS-friendly. It hasn’t worked at my local Walmart. I kept hitting the “cancel” button and the transaction would simply cancel or sometimes a “card could not be processed” message would pop up right after the signature screen appeared.

Reader Ricardo left a comment on my original post, saying I should try using the MasterCard gift card on the fourth (and last) swipe. That’s because when the cashier has to specify a payment amount rather than letting the register automatically run the charge for the amount due, the cancel/change payment trick doesn’t work. On a $2,000 money order purchase, the cashier doesn’t have to specify the amount on the last swipe because the remaining amount due is $500. So I took Ricardo’s advice and used three Visa gift cards, swiping the MasterCard last. I hit the cancel button on the screen and sure enough, I was presented with the debit option. I selected debit, declined cash back and the card was accepted!

While I didn’t have too many MasterCard gift cards and could have easily liquidated them through other means, the fact that this experiment worked is a relief. Now I have an easy liquidation option and I can save money on gift card fees going forward. I wanted to provide this update in case you’re having a similar issue. I haven’t used MasterCard gift cards in years, so getting this tip from a reader was incredibly helpful. And it goes to show the learning process goes both ways.

Have you had this issue while liquidating MasterCard gift cards? Have you tried the above tip to work around it?

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38 Comments

  1. Nice!

  2. Awesome!

  3. Good to know! Do Masters on GC.com work to pay citi over the phone? I have never tried this but have read about it.

    • Peter Brothers

      Citi didn’t work for me. They want name of cardholder and address. Didn’t work for me

    • They worked for me when they were issued by Bancorp and I think it was sometime July 2017 when all GCs from GCcom and GCM started to be issued by Metabank and it no longer worked for debit payments to C1t1.

  4. Would it be even easier to just take it slower and buy $500 money order at a time? I’m assuming the $500 is the highest amount on a MC gift card, correct?

  5. We no longer have a Walmart near us that will allow $2K. One completely shut down Visa gift cards for MOs, another limits the purchase to $1K and the other $750. Sigh….

    • Same limit at EVERY Walmart I’ve tried over the years — 1k. Isn’t that actually the norm? What Walmart locations are actually still permitting more than 1k money orders? Or have I missed something.

      • Sexy_Kitten7

        Here in Maine you can still do 2k. Has to be one transaction though. I rarely handle 500s but it’s mighty convenient when I do! Much like USPS RIP.

  6. What is the timing to hit the cancel button when you do this?

  7. Sexy_Kitten7

    Interesting! Thanks for explaining!

    Is this on the old system or new? On the old system you need the cashier to specify the amount before completing the transaction. I’ve heard on the new system it’s the opposite. Apparently we swipe and then they specify the amount to pull. It sounds pretty bizarre but might fix the MC problem. Or kill the work around!

    Thankfully I’ve never had problems liquidating MCs. Would suck if I had to buy 3 Visas for every MC lol!

  8. Thanks for the HT. Also works if you only buy 1 money order for $499.30 using only the MC.

  9. Does this work for Vanilla Mastercard Gift Cards? Or, can even liquidate a Vanilla MC GC?

  10. I stopped buying those MC’s since they weren’t tracking at 1.25% anyway. Has TCB or anyone else fixed that yet?

  11. This worked for me the last batch of $2465.25 MCGCs from GCcom:

    $465.25 loaded to reloadable prepaid – one swipe doing cancel trick.
    Each of the four $500 was paired with two $200 BBY GCs for total of $899.30 MO. The MCGC was swiped last with the cancel trick and all were approved.

    I only buy the MCGCs when some portals offer extra bonus; otherwise, I stick to the Visas. I got yazing to track it for 1.25% after opening a ticket. I saved a screenshot in case I need it to prove later that they offered 1.25% at the time of click-thru.

  12. I’ve panicked after walking out of the supermarket with a MC when I thought I bought a Visa! I had to us Venmo to liquidate that time. Now knowing this trick works I don’t have to stress over it. – thanks @Ricardo for the tip – thank you @Ariana for testing!

  13. Sexy_Kitten7

    I do wonder, does this problem only affect (possibly a subset of) $500 MCs? Has anyone been unable to change pymt on the $200 USB from Staples? If so, people (including myself) are gonna freak after the next rebate!

  14. so TCB tracks at 1.25% or no? seeing mixed DPs

  15. Ariana, the gift cards from giftcards.com, if they are issued by MetaBank then it’s the same like what we can get at Staples, and the PIN is set with the last 4 digit?

  16. Wonderful trick ariana, I will surely try 😉

  17. I have a “Sunrise” mastercard debit that came with a pin. Does this work same way as this? Today i tried to use it to bill pay at Walmart and wouldn’t take this Mastercard debit.

  18. I have an international MC debit card issued by Axis Bank (India). Will this trick work? I tried to create a $1000 money order just this card but it always comes up as a credit. I’ve tried to press the cancel button after swiping but do not get an option to switch payment to debit.

  19. Hello everyone,

    I’m new to the MS game and I recently purchased a 5 back VGC at Office Depot with my ink cash card. I attempted to take the card to Walmart to buy a MO but the cashier said they don’t take GCs and it required a PIN # that I didn’t have. Can I circumvent this process or am I stuck trying to spend the VGC? If I can, how do I do it?

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