19

I have an online virtual debit card which was provided from a company as a refund.

To all intents and purposes, this is indistinguishable from a physical card but I've yet to find anywhere online where I can use for part payment so how to you spend the exact amount left on the card?

I had thought about topping up by an amount so that I could spend the exact amount on my next purchase but that is not an option nor is sending to a bank.

By not spending the exact amount, I'll be liable for inactivity fees and just having any money sitting there doing nothing is not benefiting me but more likely will the issuing company...

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    One wonders if the issuing company actually has to pay up front, or only as the funds are used....
    – chepner
    May 22 at 13:56
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    Many websites will let you split payments to multiple credit cards. You just need to pay closer attention to the UX and look for the option. Certainly utility companies tend to do that! May 22 at 23:30
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    Isn’t it possible to add such cards to Google/Apple Pay on your phone? Then you would be able to use it in a physical shop where you can usually specify an exact amount for partial payment.
    – Didier L
    May 23 at 12:14
  • Could you please drop "To all intents and purposes, this is indistinguishable…" and go back to reality? That you've yet to find anywhere online where you can use that "card" for part payment shows beyond doubt, the thing clearly is "distinguishable…" That is to say, much of the problem here is your description. Can you go back to reality and list every difference you've actually encountered between this and any "real" card? May 25 at 22:18

5 Answers 5

65

One trick I've used in this situation is to use the card to buy an amazon gift card for the exact amount you have left on the debit card. You can select the email option so you don't even have to deal with a physical card. Then immediately redeem the gift card and you have a credit on your Amazon account.

Don't know about you, but I shop there enough that that credit balance gets used up before very long.

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    You used to be able to directly load your Amazon gift balance from the card with the exact amount. Now you have to actually "buy" a reload with it which is a lot less convenient and takes longer.
    – Dragonel
    May 23 at 10:42
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    @Dragonel I had this problem recently and topped up my Amazon account digitally with the exact remaining amount. No drama. I don't really understand your distinction.
    – Darren
    May 23 at 14:20
  • @Darren - how recently? I also used to do exactly that and simply top up my gift balance, but at some point within the last 6 months or so (I think) Amazon made the process less convenient by making me go through the 'buy a gift card' page, even though I never see the resulting card or code and it gets automatically applied to my account. I'm not saying the current process is hard, it's just that the previous process was slightly easier and more convenient.
    – brhans
    May 24 at 11:03
  • @brhans, last couple of weeks. The way you've just described it is what I had to do, but I couldn't understand the difference between the two things you described. I think I get it now. It wasn't that onerous.
    – Darren
    May 24 at 11:04
  • Yeah it's a small change from the previous process and probably only 'costs' an extra 30 seconds or so.
    – brhans
    May 24 at 11:09
10

Paypal allows splitting your funds between multiple cards for some retailers. While it's not universal you might be able to use it if you shop at these through PayPal. Hopefully they will also extend this list in the future.

Based on the DoctOfCredit website the following retailers are accepted as of 3 March, 2022:

List of retailers that allow splitting:

Paypal Digital Gifts
AliExpress
Cashstar
Bestbuy.com
Walmart.com
Target.com

Even for retailers that don't allow splitting you can also try to use your PayPal balance to do the trick, especially if you don't really use your balance over there frequently. As PayPal will first use funds from your PayPal balance and only then from the card selected, you just need to top up the PayPal balance just right (example if you have a prepaid balance of £10, and an item you wish to buy for £25 you need to have a PayPal balance of £15 to get it right). This however needs some pre-planning, especially if you do normally have a PayPal balance, and it's not zero all the time.

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    Instead of topping your paypal balance so that when it hits the virtual card it'll empty it completely, why not instead just transfer the cards balance to your paypal balance directly and then use paypal normally? May 23 at 11:08
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    @DanIsFiddlingByFirelight you can't always transfer funds from a debit card to PayPal. I definitely had issues trying to deplete some of mine by adding it to my PayPal balance, as it was asking for the backing bank account details
    – SztupY
    May 23 at 11:27
  • @DanIsFiddlingByFirelight There are a lot of silly KYC regulations around that. A lot of accounts blacklist online debit cards and only allow you to add money from a debit cards that are linked to checking accounts. This is based on the first 6 digits of the card number so there are many false positives and negatives
    – Navin
    May 31 at 9:52
5

Some time ago, I had a quantity of Visa gift cards to spend, and found that my ISP (cable TV) provider easily took a partial payment. So, as balances dropped below being easily used at a supermarket, say $10 or so, I just made a series of partial payments and used up the final balances that way.

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  • Same here, except it was my energy company. May 23 at 11:22
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Here are a couple of possibilities, which may or may not work in your case:

  • Close it with a tiny balance (pennies) and lose that. Check the closure policies, which may or may not be the same as if you run the balance down to exactly zero.
  • If it can be used in a physical store (phone contactless), many grocery stores can use a mixture of card and cash, or even multiple cards. Restaurants can almost always split bills to requested amounts.
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Your bank might be able to do a balance transfer from the card to your account. This has worked for me in the past.

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