Gift cards are usually registered online through the company that issued the gift card. For example, a Visa gift card is registered through Visa's gift card registration site, while a Starbucks Coffee gift card is registered through a similar page on the Starbucks website.
Online registration of a gift card is sometimes required for the card to be used, while other cards are activated when they are purchased. Registration of a gift card often has additional benefits beyond activation, depending on the company that issued the gift card. Many gift cards can be reported lost or stolen once they have been registered, allowing consumers to obtain a replacement. It is often possible to track the value of a registered gift card, to see what purchases have been made with the card, and to add to the value of a rechargeable gift card once it has been registered online. If a gift card does not contain enough value to cover the full price of a purchase, it is usually possible to use an alternate form of payment to make up the difference.
Some gift cards also act as loyalty or rewards cards once they are registered. For example, registered Starbucks Coffee gift cards accumulate Starbucks Rewards points when used that can be used to obtain free drinks, food items and other loyalty rewards.