Can You Buy Gift Cards at Self-Checkout at Walmart? Elsewhere? Solved

Self-checkout kiosks have become a quick and convenient way to check out when you’re in a hurry or just like doing things yourself. But what if one of those items you want to buy is a gift card? Can you buy gift cards at self-checkout or do they require activation by a cashier at a register? In this article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about purchasing gift cards through self-checkout, including stores that allow it, stores that don’t, and what kind of gift cards their policies apply to.

Can You Buy Gift Cards at Self-Checkout?

Are gift cards activated at self-checkouts? Some stores do allow you to purchase gift cards at a self-checkout kiosk — at these stores, gift cards automatically activate once your transaction is complete. Other stores require that a cashier activate gift cards manually, so they must be purchased at a register.

Before we share the list of stores where you can buy gift cards at self-checkout, here are some important details about how activation works for specific types of gift cards.

Prepaid Gift Cards (Not Store-Specific)

Prepaid gift cards are gift cards with a predetermined amount on them. Common prepaid gift cards include Visa and Mastercard.

Prepaid gift cards can be activated in multiple ways. Some prepaid gift cards are automatically activated when scanned and paid for at checkout while other times you need to activate the card over the phone after purchase. To do this, you must provide the full gift card account number and often an activation code, which is usually found on the back of the card and is covered for security. You can use a coin to scratch off the protective coating to reveal your activation code.

Most of the time, you can purchase prepaid gift cards at the self-checkout because there’s already a predetermined amount on them. You just scan the barcode like you do for any other product and the amount of the gift card will be added to your total. Check your gift card receipt and gift card packaging for details about whether you also need to call to finish activation.

Gift Cards with No Set Amount (Not Store-Specific)

There are also Visa or Mastercard gift cards that allow you to specify what amount you’d like to put on the card. The amounts that can be put on gift cards usually range from $20 to $500.

You purchase these gift cards by scanning the barcode at checkout just like you do with prepaid gift cards. Once the gift card is scanned, you’ll be prompted to enter the amount you’d like to put on the card if you’re at the self-checkout, or, if you’re at the regular check out, a cashier will ask you for the amount and will enter it for you. From there, you will simply pay to complete your transaction. At this point, your gift card should be activated and you should receive an activation notice on your receipt or a separate receipt confirming the activation of the gift card.

Sometimes these gift cards can be purchased at self-checkout but other times the stores prefer that a cashier handle the transaction.

Store Gift Cards

In the case of gift cards to a particular store or restaurant, you usually have the option of purchasing prepaid cards or putting a certain amount on the card.

The prepaid store gift card process is the same as the process for prepaid Visa or Mastercard gift cards. You just scan the gift card and complete your transaction, often all at self-checkout.

For store gift cards where you choose the amount, the process is also the same as the process for choosing an amount on a Visa or Mastercard gift card. You need to scan the card and then specify how much to put on the gift card. Just like with Visa or Mastercard gift cards, these can sometimes be purchased at self-checkout but often stores prefer to have a cashier process these transactions.

Stores Where You Can Buy Gift Cards at the Self-Checkout

By speaking with customer service, we’ve confirmed that these stores do allow gift cards to be purchased at self-checkout. Note that not all store locations may have self-checkout machines. In addition, store policies surrounding purchasing gift cards may vary by location. If you’re set on purchasing a gift card at self-checkout at one of the stores listed below, call your local store first to confirm that the particular location will allow you to purchase gift cards at self-checkout.

BJ’s Wholesale Club

  • Checkout process: Scan the gift card, specify the amount you wish to put on the card for cards that don’t have a predetermined amount on them, and then pay. Once your payment is accepted and the transaction is completed, the gift card will activate automatically.
  • Source: Customer service
  • Find your nearest BJ’s Wholesale Club

The Home Depot

  • Checkout process: For The Home Depot store gift cards, scan the card’s barcode and then, when prompted, enter the amount you wish to put on the card. If a gift card already has a set dollar amount on it, like a $25 dollar Visa gift card, then just scan the card at the self-checkout kiosk. You’ll follow this same process for other gift cards such as Visa, Mastercard, or restaurant and retailer cards. Once your transaction is complete and your payment method has been accepted, the gift card will activate automatically and no further action is required on your part.
  • Source: Customer service
  • Find your nearest Home Depot

Kroger

  • Checkout process: When you go to check out at the self-checkout kiosk, scan your Kroger shopper’s card if you have one. If the gift card you’re purchasing has a predetermined amount on it, you just need to scan the card and cash out. When your transaction is completed and the payment goes through, the card is activated. If you need to specify an amount to go on the gift card, you’ll be prompted to enter the amount after you scan the card. Once your payment is accepted and the transaction is completed, the gift card will activate automatically.
  • Source: Customer service
  • Find your nearest Kroger

Suggested Article: The List of Gift Cards at Kroger, Sorted by Category (Food, Fuel, etc)

Lowe’s

  • Checkout process: While gift cards can be scanned at a self-checkout kiosk, the kiosk will hold the transaction as pending until a Lowe’s employee comes over to complete the transaction. So while gift cards can be purchased at self-checkout, it may be faster to just go through a cashier lane.
  • Source: Customer service
  • Find your nearest Lowe’s

Safeway

  • Checkout process: Scan the card, enter the amount you wish to put on the gift card (if not prepaid for a set amount,) and pay. Once your payment is accepted and your transaction is complete, the gift card will automatically activate.
  • Source: Customer service
  • Find your nearest Safeway

Target

  • Checkout process: While gift cards can be scanned at a self-checkout kiosk, Target recommends purchasing gift cards through a cashier lane. When a gift card is scanned at a self-checkout kiosk, the transaction will be put on hold until a Target employee is available to complete the checkout and activation process.
  • Source: Customer service
  • Find your nearest Target

Walmart

  • Checkout process: For prepaid gift cards, you just need to scan the barcode. Once your payment is accepted and the transaction is complete, the gift card will be activated. For gift cards where you can specify an amount, you will need to scan the gift card and then enter the amount you would like to put on the gift card when prompted. Once you pay and your transaction is complete, the gift card will be activated and ready for use.
  • Source: Customer service
  • Find your nearest Walmart

Suggested articles: Walmart Self-Checkout Hours & How They Compare to Similar Stores and the list of gift cards Walmart typically sells.

WinCo Foods

  • Checkout process: If purchasing a gift card at self-checkout, you’ll need the assistance of the self-checkout attendant. He or she will need to assist with the process of purchasing and activating the gift card. You won’t be able to scan it and activate it automatically.
  • Source: Customer service
  • Find your nearest WinCo Foods

Looking for other ways to buy gift cards? See our research on stores that let you buy a gift card online and pick it up at a store.

Stores Where You Can’t Buy Gift Cards at Self-Checkout

While many stores do allow gift cards to be purchased at self-checkout, there are some who require that a cashier handle the transaction. We’ve spoken with customer service from the following stores who have advised that they don’t allow gift cards to be purchased at self-checkout. Again, keep in mind that store policies may vary by location, and there may be a store near you that does allow gift card purchases at self-checkout.

  • CVS
  • Food Lion
  • Kmart
  • Sam’s Club
  • Tops Friendly Markets
  • Whole Foods

In Summary

Self-checkout kiosks have become increasingly popular in retail and grocery stores and are a convenient option when you’re making a small purchase. Some stores allow gift cards to be purchased at self-checkout, and they automatically activate once your payment has been processed and your transaction is complete. Gift cards that can be purchased at self-checkout include prepaid gift cards, gift cards with no set amount on them, and gift cards to a particular store or restaurant. However, some stores don’t allow you to purchase gift cards at self-checkout, requiring instead that a cashier handle the processing and activation of gift cards and in some cases.