Buyers/Authors #Beware when Purchasing #Amazon Gift Certificates



With the upcoming holidays, no doubt many gifters will be thinking about purchasing gift certificates. This particular article is written specifically to create awareness when purchasing gift certificates from Amazon. Be careful which site you purchase them on because they are not interactive – meaning, if for example you’re American and want to send a gift certificate to a Canadian friend, or from any other country, your US gift certificate will be no good to us. This information is especially important for authors when doing promos and sending readers a gift certificate to purchase a book they’ve won from the author.


How do I know this?

I know this because I’ve run into this problem as a gift certificate receiver in the past and just recently again. But this time I spent over 2 hours on the phone with Amazon trying to get to the bottom of it.

An author friend was recently running a Black Friday promo (which I posted HERE). She offered, buy one of her books, and get 2 free. I purchased one of her books, and she emailed me an Amazon gift certificate. I went to Amazon to load the coupon, and without any options available, just ‘click to redeem’, and my US certificate is now sitting in in my account where it is not of any use to me. Even though I’m Canadian and must purchase books and/or items from .ca, Amazon took the liberty of loading that coupon to .com – no option, no warning, no offer to convert US funds, and no availability for me to even download a kindle book from .com. So the coupon is useless sitting in my account in US funds.

I was fortunate to have a lovely rep answer my call, we’ll call her Amy for the purpose of this post. I initially called to move that money over to .ca account where it should have gone in the first place. Amy couldn’t believe the troubles she’s encountered with Canadian complaints on many fronts besides the certificate problems, and in the two hours on the phone, we became fast friends. She said she was going to try and get to the bottom of things and find out an option to give me the money, or at least have Amazon let me choose the books for the value and load them on to my kindle for me.

After our lengthy talk and her putting me on hold many times in efforts to keep trying different resolution departments, she told me she’d call me back instead of keeping me on the phone. When she did call back, she apologized up and down for taking me through the hoops over money that was mine but not able to use. She told me, she was told that if the certificate was in US funds, it went directly into .com, end of story. She and I were both appalled, and she said she was going to make it her mission to stand up for Canadians who get short-changed in the Amazon system, including bringing up to her superiors, my biggest Amazon peeve, that when I pay for advertising to promote a kindle countdown and advertise it to my readers, Canadians don’t count, we’re not eligible to purchase a countdown deal. Seriously, what era are we living in? I can’t even see my own books on countdown when I’m running that promo, I have to message an American friend to go to my page and see if the book is on sale!

The bottom line here is that anyone purchasing gift cards, especially authors buying them for promos for readers, MAKE SURE YOU BUY THEM FROM THE AMAZON SITE OF THE COUNTRY THAT RECEIVER LIVES IN.

After Amy did all she could to reverse the US download, to no avail, she felt so bad, she sent me a Canadian gift card from herself! Then she stayed on the phone with me to make sure it would download and I was able to use it. This experience was new for her too and she wanted to make sure the process worked because when I loaded the new gift card to my .ca account, we wanted to make sure I was able to have access to the funds. So I proceeded to purchase a book, and when I purchase books I’m always offered the ‘one click to buy’, and I was concerned that it would still charge my credit card and not use the funds in my account. There was no pop-up or info asking if I wanted to use the credit in the account or if it would automatically charge my card. But with a little sniffing around I did the test and it worked.

I downloaded a book, then I clicked on the top bar ‘my account‘ then this screen opens


Then I look under Gift Cards and click on ‘View Gift Card Balance’, sure enough the price of the book I just purchased was deleted off total of the gift card used, showing a remaining balance. I had proof my purchases were coming out of the amount deposited from redeeming the gift card. And so I purchased a second book and repeated the steps to make sure the charge wasn’t going on my card.

Now for future purchases of any gift cards, all you have to do is go to the Amazon site of the country you wish to purchase a gift card for, for example, and when the page opens, on the top black bar, just under the search bar, you will see headings, and one of them is ‘gift cards’. You can click on that and you’ll be taken to this page:


Now you can choose how you want to purchase your gift card and then forward to someone.

I hope this post helps many of you to not waste your precious dollars buying gift certificates in your own currency to give to others in different countries. Not only does the recipient lose out, but for authors who use these certificates as part of promos on a regular basis, this will save you dumping your money in the garbage, because once the certificate is downloaded, there is no recouping the amount back for the buyer or the receiver. Unfortunately there is nowhere else to find out these surprises until they occur. When in doubt before purchasing, call Amazon customer service to find out the rules because often times they aren’t presented to us without doing a major search and still sometimes finding grey areas.

Have any of you had this situation where you received an Amazon gift card you could never use?


56 thoughts on “Buyers/Authors #Beware when Purchasing #Amazon Gift Certificates

  1. Thanks for the heads up. I haven’t run into this but will remember it. I purchased a prepaid Visa card a few months ago and was going to mail it to my nephew in England and found out that he would not be able to use it in England. They sent ma a card in my name and was able to use it here in the U.S.. I then sent him cash through Western Union and he was able to get it in Euros. There was an additional cost to send it because it is out of the country but it was minimal. I am wondering if the money sitting in your account can be sent to the account from whence it came and then she/he can follow your instructions and get the gift money to Canadian currency and have it sent to your account. You or the giver might want to look into it. I hope this helps. :o).


    1. Hi Patricia. In answer to your question, no. That’s what’s so bad about the situation. Amazon deposits it in US because it’s a US card and they wouldn’t do anything about it. But Visa is a whole different kettle of fish. They are a dream to work with. πŸ™‚


    1. There are many of us Stevie. But now we both have learned, the trick is to purchase it directly from the site of the currency applicable to the recipient’s country. πŸ™‚


  2. Hi Debby. Thank you so much for this post. I’m about to launch a competition to celebrate the launch of my book tomorrow, and prizes will be Amazon gift cards which can sent by me via email. I did a lot of research earlier in the week and found out the same as you. Some countries, such as Australia, don’t seem to have the option for me to buy a gift card which I can then send to somebody via email who lives in Australia. Therefore I’m going to have to offer any winners from countries where I can’t email them a gift card, a cash prize via PayPal. If they don’t have PayPal then I’m stuck! So, I’m going to have explain it in the rules of the competition.

    One thing I did find out was that my Sister (who lives in Australia) can use a gift card from for buying a few things such as books or CDs form the UK site. The postage costs are more but at least a few items can be purchased.

    And they say we are living in a modern world? I think Amazon needs to produce just the one gift card that can be used anywhere.


    1. Hi Hugh. Glad you found my post timely. And you did well by doing your homework before entering the ‘Zon’. There are often grey areas with lots with them. Many authors have had trouble over the past few years with those gift cards and promos. I know I’d won a few myself and was never able to do anything with them. That’s why I wasted half a day trying to get to the bottom with them. I also contacted the author who gave me the certificate to warn her about doing same to others out of the US.
      Sounds like a great promo you have planned!
      Have you considered sending a copy of the file as a gift for those who may win and aren’t gift card eligible?


      1. Hi, Debby. Well, I wasn’t going to offer any copies of my book as a prize. You”ll find out why when I announce the competition tomorrow. ?

        Yes, been via the Amazon site in Australia. When I type in gift cards/certificates, all I get is a list of books and/or apps about how to add certificates to your Amazon account. So, it doesn’t look as if they are available in Australia. In fact, the Amazon site there seems quite limited in what it sells. It won’t even list the paperback version of my book. Seems only Kindle versions of books are available (unless I’m looking in the wrong place). ?


      2. Ok Hugh, looking forward to that post tomorrow. Happy launch Day!!!!!!
        I just ran over to, you’re right. I checked my books, no paperback either :(. You are a well prepared author my friend, checking on things that some of us never even checked on, and worrying about those gift cards early. Don’t sweat it my friend. You will learn there will be hurdles to encounter on this lengthy journey, but we always manage to find a solution. I wouldn’t worry yet about what to do with those who don’t have access to the gift cards, maybe it won’t even be anyone from there, lol.
        But I do know when I’m stuck, I’m coming to Hugh Roberts for solutions! πŸ™‚ xo


      3. lol, well, it’s only been because I have learned so much from published author’s such as you, Debby, that I thought I’d check some of these things out. ?

        I’ve just sent you an email asking if you would check that the link I set up so that people are taken straight to their country’s Amazon site is working when they click on my buying link. I’d be so grateful if you could check it for me. I hope I’ve set it up correctly. ?

        Thanks, Debby



  3. Sorry for all this hassle Deb, but so glad you had wonderful Amy to help you through it. What a total rip off for Canadians and I’m assuming the same for us Brits too? I don’t understand why you can’t have the option to buy from .com in US dollars if they won’t convert. It’s time for Amazon to sit up and deal with this problem pronto and if anyone can give them the kick up the rear they need to deal with it, you can my friend! πŸ™‚ ❀ xoxo


    1. Lol Sher, you know me, I don’t let go easily. And if I detect injustice, everybody here is going to know about it! I’ve already heard a few complaints here regarding same situation with Amazon UK. πŸ™‚ xo<3


  4. Thank you so much for this info! I’ve had this happen to me. I sent a gift card to someone in the U.K. And she couldn’t use it and I couldn’t get it back. Very frustrating. Good to know I have this option. πŸ™‚


  5. I don’t purchase books at all. I love to read and try to get books I like from the library. Sometimes I can get a friend to buy a book, which I will split the cost at a local bookstore and then she can keep the book at her own bigger place, on a bookshelf, Debby. If people opened my two closets or entered my one bedroom door, they would see a nicely decorated, but stuffed to the gills, ( πŸ™‚ ) apartment!


  6. Detective Debby is on track. Thanks for this information. I just don’t know how Amazon can be so smart and dumb at the same time. Rumor has it that Amazon is coming to Australia in a very big way and will take big market % here. Well let’s hope they get their international smarts before they come.


    1. Lol, thanks Kathleen. As it stands now, I’m not sure if Australia even has gift certificates as of yet. You can have a look at Hugh Roberts’ comment here, as he’s also been searching for availability of country’s certificates for a giveaway on his new book. πŸ™‚


  7. Argh! Tricksy Amazon strikes again!
    Thanks for sharing, I didn’t know you could buy gift cards on other country sites, and that’s WELL worth knowing for future promos.
    As you say, in this day and age, why is it so complicated?
    I have fans in New Zealand who don’t have an Amazon store in their country. They have to buy from the US store, and pay a ‘delivery charge’. Huh? It’s electronic – what is the charge for???


    1. Glad I could help Deb through my own struggles with Amazon. Yes, I’ve heard that Australia can’t buy them either, having to purchase from UK. Just like why when I put my books on kindlecountdown Canadians are not allowed to buy on sale? I can’t even see the promo on my own book page on Amazon! It’s annoying. 😦


      1. None of it makes any sense, that’s what’s so frustrating!
        I’ve just noticed I’ve lost 5 reviews on Prince’s Man (gained a new one today though), and I’ve checked back through to find they aren’t even the ones from people who are obviously friends, mentioning that fact in their reviews! Heaven only knows which ones Amazon decided to cull, or why.


      2. If I lose more, then I might. It’s annoying because I had 48, with a couple more due in that would have taken it past the magic 50. On the other hand, my star rating has gone up, so they must have been 4 star reviews, not 5s.
        Amazon’s power over our careers is a truly scary thing.


  8. Yep I’ve run into problems too – not a mistake I’ll make again tho. Very irritating you would think a corporate monster like that would have sorted their lives out with universal gift cards by now. Idiots.


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