If you’ve ever made an impulsive purchase towards an Amazon gift card, whether for yourself or a friend, then changed your mind and wanted your money back, you probably found out that that’s not quite how Amazon’s refund and return policies work.
However, you might be pleased to learn that there’s plenty to do with your gift card, even though you might not be able to get your cashback.
You can’t return Amazon gift cards for cash unless allowed by state law. States under gift card law can allow you to receive a partial refund. Only gifts bought on the Amazon store and non-functional gift cards can be fully refunded, but the refund is applied to your Gift Card balance.
If you’d like to learn more about why Amazon does not give cashback returns or refunds for gift cards, this article will explain the reasons to you in more detail.
How do the Gift Card Laws work?
If you didn’t know gift card laws exist, well, now you do. The laws protect consumers from unfair or exploitive company policies; and companies from fraud. Essentially, gift card laws let you redeem a gift card or certificate for cash upon request of a refund; or you can have it replaced with a new one at no cost if the card is non-functional.
However, there are limits to how much can be refunded to you, and the percentage varies by state. Not all states obligate the company to issue cash refunds.
Some states collect the remaining balance on your card after a certain elapsed period. While some gift card laws apply only to certain states, here are a few gift card laws that apply to all states:
- Gift cards can last five years from the day of purchase or the date of the most recent reload for reloadable gift cards.
- There should be transparency about card fees; they should be visible on the card and packaging.
- Post-sale fees cannot be imposed before one year of inactivity.
- Post-sale fees can only be charged once per month.
Some gift cards are exempted from gift card laws; they are:
- Prepaid calling cards
- Store loyalty and reward cards
- Store credit refund cards
States Where You Can Get Cashback for Your Gift Card
Ten states require the company to honor a cashback request for a refund. Puerto Rico, a US territory, also enforces this gift card law. However, there are imposed balance limitations, so you can never hope to get the entire worth of your gift card refunded in cash.
The table below summarizes these states and the balance limitations of each:
|State/Territory With Gift Card Law
Under Amazon’s Balance & Gift Card Terms & Conditions, it is stated that they only give cash back refunds to “the extent required by law”. In states where the gift card law does not apply, they refund the purchaser for a non-functional gift card by applying the gift card’s cash value to their Gift Card balance on their Amazon account.
Rarely do consumers demand cash refunds for Amazon gift cards because Amazon gift cards and the card fund do not expire for gift cards issued after October 1, 2005. They can also be used for multiple purchases, unlike single-purchase gift cards. The remaining balance can be used to purchase eligible products on the Amazon store.
Gift returns and gift card refunds are always applied to the gift card balance on your Amazon account, which can take 2-3 hours. However, refunds for purchases valued at or exceeding $2000 are refunded to the original payment method; this can take three to five business days to be reflected in your account.
Why Amazon Does Not Do Cash Refunds?
In states without a gift card law, Amazon’s policy is not to give cash refunds for returned cash cards. As mentioned in the previous section, they refund the amount to your gift card balance in your Amazon account.
This is to minimize fraudulent practices that are rampant, especially online. Scammers sometimes exploit cash refunds.
Common Gift Card Scams
Amazon has a list of gift card scams on its website to caution customers against these unauthorized activities. Amazon encourages its customers who think they may have fallen victim to a scam to reach out to their Customer Protection Review Team or to report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Here are some gift card scams Amazon warns its customers to be vigilant against:
- Covid-19 Scams
- Social Security Or Identity Theft Scams
- Job Offer Scams
- Fake Online Listings Scam
- Boss Scams
- Caller Id Spoofing
- Family Emergency Scams
- Unpaid Debt And Tax Scams
- Email Or Text Scams
- Fake Survey Scams
To read about these scams in more detail, check them out on Amazon’s website.
Amazon Gift Card Restrictions & Prohibited Activities
Amazon imposes strict gift card restrictions and prohibits certain activities. Engaging in such activities can result in the indefinite deactivation of your Amazon account.
Here are some prohibited activities under Amazon’s gift card policies:
- Unauthorized Payment: Paying for goods or services off of Amazon or non-Amazon entities or individuals requiring gift cards as a payment method.
- Purchase From Unauthorized Third Parties: Amazon cannot guarantee the legitimacy of gift cards purchased from unauthorized third parties, such as gift card kiosks.
- Use of Gift Cards for Commercial Reasons: Using a gift card as payment to fund purchases with the intent of reselling or exporting goods or services.
- Purchase for Ineligible Goods: Paying for ineligible goods and services such as collectible coins or other gift cards. Alternative payment methods should be used to pay for orders, including ineligible items.
- Unauthorized Transfer to Another Account: Transfering a gift card to another account after the claim code has been redeemed.
- Payment for Illegal Purposes: Using a gift card for any illegal or unauthorized purpose
Why Gift Cash Balance Refund Is Better Than Cash Back?
On the other side of Amazon’s stringent gift card return and refund regulations and limitations, they actually have some of the most generous gift card policies. Wanting a cash refund in states under the gift card law makes little sense when you can only receive an amount lower than your gift card’s value. Here’s why a gift card balance refund is better than cashback:
- You get your card’s worth.
- There are no additional fees.
- You can make multiple purchases.
You Get Your Card’s Worth
Under particular circumstances where Amazon grants a refund, they give the gift card’s total value to your Amazon account’s Gift Card balance. You don’t get the total amount for a cashback refund and end up being shorted because of the gift card law. In states with no gift card laws, company policies on refunds and returns take precedence.
There Are No Additional Fees
Unlike many gift cards, Amazon gift cards don’t have activation, transaction, or maintenance fees. Some people want to bail on a gift card because of the fees, but with Amazon gift cards, you don’t have to worry about that. So it doesn’t seem worth it to want a cash refund when you can only get a partial refund anyway.
You Can Make Multiple Purchases & Checkouts
The downside to some gift cards is they are only good for a single purchase or one-time checkout. So if you have a $20 gift card but want to purchase something that’s only $15, you get shorted $5. The remaining balance gets treated as unclaimed property and can be claimed by some states, such as Illinois.