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.
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?