Gift cards and your Kindle
There’s a pretty good chance you got an Amazon gift card recently (see my post, Really last minute gifts: e-books and gift cards for more on giving cards).
You might be wondering how you can use it…I’ve seen lots of confusion about it in the Amazon Kindle Forum. In this post, I’ll explain how it works.
The first thing to know is that your gift card isn’t just for a specific Kindle on your account, or for a specific product.
Some people are confused by the fact that Amazon lets you buy a gift card with a picture of a Kindle on it. That doesn’t mean the amount can only be used for Kindle purchases: any gift card balance you have on your account can be used for any eligible item.
So, could a grandparent give you a gift card intending you to get
and it ends up being spent on paper towels?
Sure…it could even happen by accident.
What you do is apply the gift card balance to your account…the whole account. Then, when you use 1-click to buy something, it draws from any available gift card balance until there is none left (and then it goes back to the payment method which your account has set up for 1-click).
While you can only use 1-click to buy Kindle books, you can also use it to buy other things.
If you don’t use 1-click to buy the paper towels, you’ll be given the choice whether or not to use the gift card balance. If you use 1-click, it automatically goes to the gift card…letting you choose whether or not to use the gift card would add clicks, and it wouldn’t be 1-click any more.
I’m sure this has happened a lot. Somebody gets a gift card, intends to use it for a specific purpose, and it gets used up by more mundane purchases before the person realizes it.
That’s one reason why it is a good thing that you can gift a specific Kindle book from the book’s Amazon product page! Do that, and the person has a choice to get a gift card instead, but it arrives ready to be used just for that one book.
So, that’s the first big thing: your gift card isn’t “siloed” away from other purchases.
Oh, something which is siloed:
You can gift those, and they can only be used for apps and for in-app purchases.
The other thing is that not everything can be purchased with a gift card.
Here are the
For example, you can’t use a gift card to buy more gift cards…I guess that is like using one of your three wishes to wish for more wishes.
One important one which does not appear on this page is about subscription items (blogs, magazines, newspapers). Weirdly, it used to explicitly say that it was prohibited. I alerted Amazon to the fact that it doesn’t have that prohibition in Help any more, and they confirmed for me that it is still prohibited to use your gift card for a subscription. Hopefully, they will update the page.
They do say it explicitly on another page:
“You can use an Amazon Gift Card, Gift Certificate, or Promotional Certificate to purchase Kindle devices, books and accessories. Any available balance will be used for your Kindle store purchase before your credit or debit card is charged. Your Gift Card balance cannot be used to pay for subscription content from the Kindle store.”
Why isn’t that okay?
With a subscription, they need something they can bill in future months, too…not just the first time. Let’s say you get something which is $10 a month, and you could pay for it with a $10 gift card. What would happen when the $10 came due for the next month’s subscription? They wouldn’t have a way to get the money, so they would have to contact you, which might delay it.
When you buy a subscription with a credit card, there is a much better chance that card can be billed the following month.
That said, it appears that Amazon has made it possible to gift some subscriptions…I believe that is new. When you go to pay for some magazines in the Kindle store, you’ll get an option to gift them to someone.
At least, that’s what I’ve heard: I haven’t seen it yet myself.
My guess is that it works one of two ways: either it works like gifting Prime, where it doesn’t autorenew…or they just continue to bill the gift giver’s payment method.
Those are the key points.
There are links at the top of this page
both to redeem your gift card (apply it to your account) and to check your balance.
If you have any other questions about them, feel free to let me know by commenting on this post.
* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.