Posted by Chuck on August 20, 2015
Gift Card Deals

Published on August 20th, 2015 | by Chuck

48

The Obscure Limits of Paypal Digital Gifts

We often blog about purchasing gift cards on eBay, usually due to deals that come up offering various gift cards at a discount. Many of these deals are for physical gift cards sold by Giftcardmall, SVM, or Cardency. Others are for electronic gift cards sold by Paypal Digital Gifts (PPDG).

The most common problem we’ll hear in the comments of such posts is that Paypal is not allowing the payment to go through.

bad day double ppdg       on a bad day you’ll see one of these

good day double ppdg

on a good day you’ll see one of these

For long, I assumed that Paypal has a complicated algorithm which decides whether or not to allow any given purchase. A few weeks ago, Chasingthepoints laid out a groundbreaking idea that there’s actually a hard $1,000 limit on the amount of e-gift cards that PPDG will sell you. He left it up in the air as to when that limit resets.

Since that time, I’ve spent many hours poring over my own PPDG limits and the limits of others in my quest of finding a method to the madness.

The conclusion? It’s not simple. 

Here are the basics

  • The $1,000 limit is real.
  • The reset is based on a rolling 30-days.
  • Aside from the $1000 ‘hard’ limit, there appears to be a ‘soft’ limit of $250 in a single checkout which Paypal sometimes imposes. It’s important to note that this does not limit you in volume at all; it just requires you to make multiple purchases of $250 or less in separate transactions. (This is terrible when you have a one-time coupon to use.) What’s extremely odd is that this ‘soft’ limit can vary literally within minutes; you’ll see the system willing to allow you to do $500 worth of gift cards and then you’ll try again a few minutes later and the system will show the $250 limit. [Note: Most people seem to have a $250 soft limit, but I did once come across a slightly lower soft limit.]
  • Only after you verify your bank account will Paypal allow you to make PPDG purchases. Paypal has various levels of verification they ask you to do. The most basic is just adding a credit card; at that point you still won’t be able to make PPDG purchases. You need to add a bank account and verify it before they’ll allow PPDG purchases. There are other verifications which will allow you to purchase from PPDG as well, such as giving in your SSN (e.g. to apply for a Paypal debit/credit card).

Other things to keep in mind

  • The above-mentioned limits are all per Paypal account. It won’t help you to use two separate eBay accounts. Conversely, if you use two separate Paypal accounts with the one eBay account, you’ll double your limit.
  • When purchasing discounted gift cards, the important number is the paid amount, not the face value; if you buy a $100 gift card for $90, count $90 toward the $1,000 limit. (This is also true with regards to the ‘buy-two-get-$15-off’ deals. The important number is the amount actually paid.)
  • Paying with eBay gift cards doesn’t help. Although you apply the eBay gift card in the eBay checkout screen before you get to Paypal, that still counts toward the limit. The same should be true with regards to promo codes and coupons which register in the eBay checkout in the same manner as gift cards.
  • There’s no difference which denomination cards you purchase; if your allowed amount is currently $300, it won’t matter whether you purchase three $100 cards or twelve $25 cards.
  • eBay e-gift cards have the same limits as all other e-gift cards; if you purchased yesterday $800 in Gap cards, for example, you won’t be able to purchase $300 eBay cards today.
  • Sometimes the system will error out on you after you hit the ‘confirm and pay’ button. That issue is entirely separate and is unrelated to these limits. That issue could stem, for example, from the fact that you’re using your Paypal account from an IP address different than you normally use.
  • Direct purchases on Paypal Digital Gifts, not purchased through eBay, do not count as part of the $1000 limit.

PPDG – Advanced Edition

But…it’s far from simple. There were a number of cases where I saw people who were able to go over the $1000 limit. Slightly.

Here are some possible explanations.

  • There appears to be a certain amount of leeway for smaller purchases, in amounts under $150. For now, I’m going to guess that the way it works is that if you haven’t made any PPDG purchases over a given amount of time (perhaps 7-days) then the system will allow you to do ~$125 in purchases, despite the fact that this will put you over $1000.  (Note: These purchases will still count against your limit for the future.)
  • I have found one person who apparently does not have this $1,000 limit at all. All others I’ve reviewed do seem to have the $1000 limit.
  • I had conflicting experiences as to exactly what time the reset happens. In one instance, it appeared to reset at the beginning of the day. In another instance, it appeared to need a full 24-hour 30-day time period to lapse before resetting.
  • It’s possible that the system will allow you to go over in small amounts, under $25. For example, if you have $85 left to your limit, the system may allow you make a $95 e-gift card purchase. (Note: In my own account, I see the $1000 limit to be exact, but in other accounts I saw some small, unexplained leeway which is why I suggest this idea.)
  • It’s possible that eBay gift cards do not count toward your future limit. To be very clear: eBay gift cards are restricted if you went over your limit, but they may not count toward your future limit. To illustrate: if you purchased $1,000 in Gap gift cards, you won’t be able to purchase eBay gift cards for another 30-days. But if purchase $1,000 in eBay gift cards it’s possible that these don’t count against your limit for future purchases.

Notes about Testing

  • If you want to test your own PPDG limits, you don’t need to actually purchase the gift cards. Just go through the checkout until you get to the ‘confirm and pay’ button and you’ll see what your limits are. If the system is not allowing you to get to the ‘confirm and pay’ button then you’re past your limits – either the hard limit or the soft limit. If the system does allow you to see that button then you know you’re within your limits.
  • PPDG sells a $5 eBay e-gift card which is useful for testing exact amounts.

Final Thoughts

No doubt this is all confusing and it’s also likely that some of this info isn’t accurate. Still, the basic $1,000 per 30-day reset seems to be the general rule-of-thumb, with all its imperfections.

The stated limit really changes the strategy for purchasing from PPDG. Until now, we just purchased whenever they allowed us to do so; now, we need to purchase strategically so as to keep room for a future purchase. It may be worth holding off on e-gift card purchases which don’t have a higher margin, such as when there is a bonus Bucks deal going on.

(Big thanks to Orensmoneysaver, Esther, Chasingthepoints, and Mileswhip for allowing me to drive them crazy over the past few weeks!)

Other eBay/Paypal Posts



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Gene
Gene

@Chuck Sithe
very useful info!!

-you wrote “Direct purchases on Paypal Digital Gifts, not purchased through eBay, do not count as part of the $1000 limit”… if i want to buy directly via PPDG, ebay GCs only, i am NOT limited to $1k/month?
-PPDG sells ebay GCs in denominations up to $100 only.. any way to get around this limit please?

thanks!

Dan
Dan

Great info. I’ve run into the limitations several times now. I wish they were more clear about the terms! It’s completely obscure. Calling in to Paypal or eBay is of zero help; pretty pathetic.

JB
JB

Hmm, I remember that 3-4 months ago I bought 5x$100 eBay GC for $450 or so and paid all with my PP account in one transaction. I also make several GC purchases in the $250-290 ballpark frequently (both with and without partially using eBay GC) and I’ve never come across the mentioned soft limit…

Michael
Michael

Another note on Paypal Digital Gifts. Apparently if you get a promotional credit from eBay, like I recently did, PPDG doesn’t honor those either. Seems they’re all kinds of special. Just like our friends at Paypal itself.

anthonyjh21
anthonyjh21

Curious how the 30 day velocity limit was figured out?

I avoid buying from PPDG unless it’s obviously a deal. I know this post is regarding PPDG purchases but it’s worth mentioning the $1,000 purchase limit doesn’t apply to other sellers, such as GCM or SVM.

With that said, I now have an unresolved issue with my paypal account after buying $3,000 in gift cards (not from PPDG) during a recent 4x ebay bucks opportunity. I’m going to double check the numbers but I’m confident I hadn’t hit the $5,000/180 limit either. The issue specifically is when you add ebay gift cards as payment and log into PayPal it’s not crediting the ebay gift cards and yet there is no error or invalid message. What I find odd is it’s not the same message I’ve previously received on a PayPal account hitting the.$5,000/180 threshold.

There’s so many little issues with PayPal and using ebay gift cards that I’m personally not buying ebay gift cards unless it’s at least a 10% discount. The level of frustration and unpredictability just aren’t worth it otherwise, as I’d prefer a 4% AGC rate if it means zero issues or time suck. Have to hand it to PayPal and ebay though, they’re doing everything they can to dissuade us MS’ers haha.

Evan
Evan

Hey Chuck, nice post. However the claim that you need to be verified with a linked bank account in order to be able to make PPDG purchases is wrong. I have never linked any bank to my PP account and I have been able to buy from them. They have my SSN though (I think you can’t open a PP account without a SSN).

frank
frank

Great post! however, I hit this problem when NOT buying much from the PPDG. You know what’s the reason? is there a overall limit on everything you pay with paypal? i hate them….i wish there is a alternative payment method..

Aahz
Aahz

I guess I’m another of the lucky ones without the $1000 limit. I did $2325 in March including 3 single transactions over $250

http://www.philaahzophy.com/images/PPDG.jpg

Ben
Ben

FWIW, I have had some luck with calling into PayPal and getting this block removed. That was before I knew that it was a purchase limit of some sort, and I was assuming it was simply a system error.

Mind you, the first two reps I spoke to were helpless – stating that it was an anti fraud mechanism, so they ran me through some identity verification steps and told me I would be good to go. I wasn’t, as it turned out that wasn’t the issue.
Next rep tried the same thing, with no results.
Finally, the third rep was able to apparently reset this limit, and I was good to go. I’ll be curious to see if she simply reset my limit that month, or if she made my account exempt. I doing the latter, but fingers crossed!

trackback

[…] There are no known limits on purchasing eBay gift cards. The $500/$5000 limits are just on using the gift cards. You can purchase unlimited amounts of eBay gift cards, even from eBay/Paypal themselves. That said, Paypal seems to be finicky with approving the purchase of any e-gift card purchase, including eBay e-gift card purchases. See The Obscure Limits of Paypal Digital Gifts. […]

Marshall
Marshall

PP sucks! They should publish the limits so everybody knows what they are. Total mystery why sometimes it goes thru and other times it doesn’t. I have been fed the same anti-fraud baloney & been told because my account was not very old (set up about six months ago) I had additional restrictions on PPDG purchases, which, of course, they refused to disclose. Even though I have a verified account with a CC and bank acct, they allow very few transactions to go thru the CC, even when I select it as the payment method. Now that eBay and PP have separated, hoping eBay goes a different route for payments.

Bret
Bret

What are the messages someone gets when any of the limits are reached? And do they occur on the order after you exceed the limits, or do they occur on the order where the limit is being exceeded?

T
T

I swear on everything that I was able to buy $2800 in eBay gcs from PPDG during the last deal, so like a week or so ago. This was my first time ever buying from them! I had read there was a limit and I could only get 2 at each transaction but I just kept going back through and ir worked every time! Also got 5x on my ink!

trackback

[…] in mind that Paypal Digital Gifts has a limit (for many) of $1,000 in e-gift cards which can be purchased per rolling […]

MrWho
MrWho

Since July 28th, I can’t buy anything from PPDG. Total I spent was $500ish using eBay GCs. I opened the 2nd account with PayPal on June. Every time I tried to order from PPDG, I had security block from the beginning. Called PP to remove the block worked for a couple of time, but it doesn’t work any more.

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