A few days ago, I saw this message on my Amazon Gift Card dashboard that the gift card I applied to my account is pending and the balance is on hold! My initial concern turned into anxiety as half a day passed with no change in the status!
I did a lot of back and forth with the Amazon customer service team. The end result was really disappointing and I never managed to get the balance back to my account! The overall experience was very frustrating with no clear reasons why an Amazon gift card balance was on hold.
However, during and after this ordeal, I did a lot of research and even reached out to ex-Amazon employees. Here’s what I learned about the real reasons why Amazon gift card shows pending –
Your Amazon gift card may show “Pending” or “Balance Hold” message if Amazon suspects that the card or the balance is either in violation of its Terms and Conditions, has been bought fraudulently, has been redeemed twice, or when an account has bought too many gift cards in a short span of time.
Other than putting the gift card balance on hold, sometimes, there are other actions that the Amazon team may take such as suspending your Amazon account entirely.
There is a lot to uncover here. I have learned a lot about this issue ever since I faced it. I have to admit – I still don’t fully understand why, how or what happens behind the scenes. But, in this article, I intend to share everything I know about why Amazon gift cards show “pending” or the “Balance Hold” status.
So, let’s get into it!
What Does Amazon Gift Card Pending Mean?
The very fact that you are on this page most likely means that you have experienced the “Amazon Gift Card Pending” issue and perhaps I don’t need to explain it to you what it means (as you are already experiencing it).
But, just to be sure we are talking about the same issue, here’s what it means.
You bought an Amazon gift card and applied it to your account. Everything went through and perhaps the balance even got added to your account. However, you came back after a few days, and noticed that the gift card balance was not visible in your account anymore.
When you checked the status on your gift card dashboard, you noticed that the gift card shows “pending” with the description shown as “Balance hold”.
Here’s an example of what may appear in your gift card activity section –
What this means is that your gift card balance is currently being checked for verification in the backend by the Amazon team for violation of any terms and conditions. Thus, the balance has been put on hold with Amazon.
Reasons Why Your Amazon Gift Card Balance is On Hold
When you face this issue, the first step that you will probably take is to wait it out. If you are a go-getter, you would most likely pick up the phone and get in touch with the Amazon customer support team to find out what the heck is going on! (and that’s what most of us would do after waiting it out!)
As annoying as it is, the Amazon customer team will unfortunately tell you very little about this issue and most likely ask for some more time.
Nevertheless, there are multiple reasons why Amazon may put your gift card balance on hold. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
1. You Bought a Gift Card from a Third Party
Apparently, one of the most common factors amongst all the people who face this issue is that they purchased the gift card outside the Amazon ecosystem or organization/people other than Amazon partners.
For instance, you may use sites like gameflip, CardCash, GiftCash, or other similar card exchange sites to purchase an Amazon gift card. People usually do this as the gift cards on such sites are available at a discounted price than its actual value (for various reasons).
This violates some of the restrictions and prohibited activities for gift cards set by Amazon. Here are a few restrictions that it directly violates –
- Purchasing a gift card from an unauthorized third party as Amazon cannot guarantee that they are legitimate.
- Sell or exchange a gift card for cash or for any other prepaid payment instrument.
The truth is that not all such transactions where a gift card is purchased from a third-party are put on hold by Amazon. But, they do seem to figure it out from time to time. I don’t really know how exactly they find out. I assume they have some sort of a flagging system in place with random checks.
2. Gift Card Redeemed Twice
Okay, I have to be honest, I didn’t even know this was possible! But seemingly, there is a loophole in the Amazon system that scammers use, especially when they sell Amazon gift cards on third party sites like the one I mentioned in the previous point.
Here’s how it works –
The seller of an Amazon gift card on the third party website will try to buy products from Amazon using genuine gift cards. They will add the products to their cart, proceed to the payment page and apply the gift cards to the order. However, once the gift card is applied, they won’t actually place the order. They will keep it on hold.
Thus, the gift card code is not really redeemed as the transaction wasn’t completed.
Then, the seller will come to a third-party site and put the gift card for sale at a discounted price. You, not knowing that the person is a scammer, end up purchasing a gift card from them. You apply the codes and the gift card gets redeemed. The balance gets added to your account since the seller has not redeemed it as such!
Once the seller has received the money from the third-part site, the scammer then completes the pending purchases and orders the product that was kept on hold in his/her Amazon account.
This triggers an error in the Amazon system telling them that the same Amazon gift card has been redeemed twice. Thus, the gift card is shown as “pending” in your account and the balance is kept on hold for further investigation.
But, since the scammer bought the gift card directly from his or her account legitimately which Amazon can verify in their system, they consider the scammer’s purchase as original and your gift card as a counterfeit.
Once the verification is done, Amazon removes the gift card balance from your account. As a result, you not only end up losing the gift card balance from your Amazon account, but also the money you paid to the scammer!
In some rare cases, a gift card does indeed get applied twice to the same account due to a bug in the system. This can also trigger a check in the Amazon system and the actual balance only gets applied once.
However, your gift card activity dashboard will show two transactions. One of the transaction will show the “Pending” and “Balance on Hold” status. While the other transaction will be the one that actually went through.
So, if you see this status in your Amazon gift card balance dashboard, it could be for either of the two reasons mentioned above.
3. Bought Too Many Gift Cards in a Short Period of Time
This is another reason why some of your gift cards that you recently bought may show a “Pending” status with the “Balance on Hold” description.
Apparently, if you buy too many gift cards in quick succession or in a short period of time, your amazon account can be flagged for fraudulent activity or a further check. And, while this is happening, some or all of the gift cards that you’ve purchased (and paid the money for), are put on hold!
What is really frustrating is that not only are your funds locked with Amazon, but no one really knows how many are “too many gift cards” or what is the definition of “short period of time”. Even the ex-Amazon employees I spoke to who handled these issues had no clear idea!
The only possible justification could be that there are several strict rules and regulations levied by the government around gift cards as these can be easily used for money laundering and other activities.
4. Very High Gift Card Balance
This is another reason why your gift card can show as “Pending” and the balance can be put on hold. In some cases, Amazon may even suspend your account!
This reason really blows my mind!
I mean, if you think about it, Amazon should be happy if a customer trusts their gift card and maintains a high balance in their account! However, suspending an Amazon account for a high balance just sounds so counter-intuitive!
And again, Amazon doesn’t really mention the meaning of “Very high gift card balance”. How high is very high, you might ask? No one knows!
However, during my research, I did notice that most people who experienced this issue mentioned that their gift card balance was usually over $1000. What’s interesting is that they often had their balance exceed this limit without any issue in the past!
What’s more! Amazon doesn’t mention anywhere on their website about how much gift card balance is okay to maintain. I feel if this is the case, Amazon should explicitly mention this to the customers.
5. Unused Gift Card Balance
Another reason why your balance may be put on hold is if you have an unused gift card balance for a long time.
However, you don’t have to worry if the balance in your gift card account is a small amount. This usually happens when the balance amount is big (again, not sure of the exact figures but usually in excess of $1000).
The possible reason why Amazon does so is again to protect against any fraudulent activities or money laundering.
Just remember, this is not an exhaustive list so there may be other reasons as well to hold your gift card balance.
There are other limitations and restrictions one should be aware of when using an Amazon gift card. For instance, there is a limitation on the amount of money you can add to your account in a single transaction and even in a single day!
To know the full details, check out my other article on Amazon Gift Card Limits. You may also be interested in reading the legal document on full terms and conditions for using an Amazon gift card.
How Long Does Amazon Gift Card Balance Take to Process?
Generally speaking, when you redeem or reload an Amazon gift card, the amount should be added to your gift card balance in 5 minutes. In certain cases, it can take up to 4 hours for the amount to reflect on your account.
However, if you’re purchasing a new gift card, Amazon can take even up to 12-24 hours to send the gift card with the code on an email.
How Long Does It Take for Verification of Pending Gift Cards on Amazon?
If you’ve redeemed an Amazon gift card and it shows pending in your account, it can take Amazon anywhere from 3 to 4 business days to complete the verification of such a gift card and to release the remove the gift card balance on hold.
To expedite the process, it is always recommended to reach out to Amazon’s customer support team and register a complaint. Else, if it does take longer, you don’t really have anything to hold them accountable on.
Can you Cancel an Amazon Gift Card That is Pending?
Unfortunately, you cannot cancel an Amazon gift card that shows pending status and the balance is put on hold.
If you have purchased the Amazon gift card from Amazon, then you will need to wait for the customer support team to validate the gift card. At the end of this process, you should have the balance in your account.
If you have purchased or received the Amazon gift card from another person or a third-party website, you will need to take it up with the person who sold or gave you the gift card.
How to Unlock or Avoid The Gift Card Balance on Hold Error?
Unlocking and avoiding this error are two different scenarios that we need to look at individually. So, let’s look at both of them in detail.
How to Unlock a Gift Card Balance on Hold?
There’s very little that you can do to unlock the gift card balance if it has been put on hold. It will really depend on what the Amazon team does to fix it for you.
However, there are a couple of things you can do to expedite the resolution –
1. Contact Amazon’s Customer Support Team
If you are facing this issue, the first thing that you should be doing in order to potentially speed up the process of unlocking your balance on hold is to contact Amazon’s customer service team.
Explain to them all the details. It is okay even if they may not be able to resolve the problem over the call. Your goal to connect with them is to generate a ticket and register the complain.
The team usually has set timelines to resolve issues once the ticket has been generated.
2. Collect Proof of Purchase
Once you have registered the request to look into the issue of gift card pending error, the next thing you should focus on is collating all the documents that you may have in your possession that proves the authenticity of your purchase.
This means shortlisting the email that contains the order confirmation from Amazon (assuming you’ve purchased your gift card from Amazon and not from a third-party).
If you bought a physical gift card, then look for the payment receipt.
If someone gifted the card to you, then reach out to that person for these details.
Keeping such documents ready can help prove your case and speed up the verification process and the release of the balance on hold by Amazon.
How to Avoid Gift Card Balance Hold Issue?
While you can’t do much to unlock the card if the balance has been put on hold by Amazon, there are quite a few steps that you can take so that you don’t end up in this situation in the first place.
Here’s what you should keep in mind in order to avoid facing the gift card balance on hold problem –
- Avoid Buying Multiple Gift Cards at Once
- Avoid Maintaining a High Gift Card Balance
- Use Gift Cards Soon After You Purchase or Redeem Them
- Use Gift Cards Directly at Checkout Instead of Redeeming Them