50 Visa gift cards purchased at Target were empty. Target says call Visa. Visa says call Target.

@michellebellexo/TikTok Tada Images/ShutterStock RYO Alexandre/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘The children should not be the ones punished’: Shopper says 50 Visa gift cards purchased at Target for charity were empty

'I work at Target and when I tell you there is nothing they can do, there literally is nothing.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on Dec 24, 2023   Updated on Dec 24, 2023, 8:12 am CST

A user on TikTok has gone viral after claiming that around 50 Target gift cards were purchased as part of a charity event—but when people went to actually use these gift cards, they were empty.

In a video with over 1.1 million views as of Sunday, TikTok user Michelle (@michellebellexo) explains the whole story.

“Last week, I went to this event that was held to help out local families in the community at this time of year,” she explains. “There was a food drive, silent auction, raffle, all these giveaways, and…all the money was going to go to these families.”

The event, she says, was a success.

“There was $6,000 raised,” she states. “They were gonna give the money directly to the school system, but the school systems are weird about taking cash, so the guy that held the event went and bought 50 $50 gift cards from Target—like, Visa gift cards, [which] are not loaded until you check out.”

“[He] gave them to the school systems, and he’s just now finding out that none of the gift cards work,” she explains.

Solving this issue, she says, has been a headache.

“He calls Target and Target says that it’s a Visa gift card issue. He called Visa [and] they said it was a Target issue because it is loaded at the store,” she details. “Nobody can fix the problem.”

While some alternatives were proposed, Michelle stresses that the situation is urgent given that the cards were intended to be used for Christmas presents. Additionally, Michelle notes that resolving the issue would simply involve either activating the cards or giving them new ones.

“Target is a multi-billion dollar company—you guys can’t just issue some more gift cards?” she asks.

@michellebellexo The children should not be the ones punished in this situation. @target wouldn’t even talk to the news. If it is a visa gift card issue then Target should make it right and deal with visa themselves separately at the very least. #forthechildren #santaslittlehelpers #raisingmoney #familiesinneed #charityevent #target #boycotting ♬ original sound – Michelle Raleigh Bartender

Michelle says that she also reached out to local news station WRAL to see if they could help with the issue. As it turns out, they could.

WRAL was able to get in contact with Target about the problem. The company then announced that it would be activating the gift cards, though WRAL notes that it’s unclear what the problem was in the first place.

Around the holidays, gift card scams are particularly common. In Target alone, several users have gone viral after sharing warnings about buying gift cards. One user claimed they received a $40 gift card, only to find out there was no money on it. Another user made a similar allegation. A further TikToker also alleged to show how one can detect whether their gift card is at risk of being stolen.

The Daily Dot reached out to Target and Michelle via email.

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*First Published: Dec 24, 2023, 10:00 am CST