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All You Need to Know About McDonald’s Gift Cards (aka Arch Card)

McDonald’s gift cards are an easy way to pay for your order. Rather than carrying cash, a McDonald’s gift card, also known as the Arch Card, can be used for all purchases at participating McDonald’s restaurants.

You can buy McDonald’s gift cards at a McDonald’s restaurant or online or from retailers like Kroger, Safeway, and Walgreens. Walmart, Amazon, and Target do not sell McDonald’s gift cards online, but you can find them at most stores.

McDonald’s gift cards never expire and cannot be redeemed for cash. In addition, McDonald’s gift cards cannot be used for online orders.

There are many ways to purchase and earn McDonald’s gift cards, but there are also limitations on how they can be used. Read on to learn more about how to buy and use a McDonald’s gift card.

Where Can You Buy McDonald’s Gift Cards?

You can buy McDonald’s gift cards at several stores and online retailers. McDonald’s gift cards (Arch Cards) are only available as physical cards, but many online gift card retailers also have e-gift cards that may be used at McDonald’s restaurants.

Retailers selling McDonald’s Arch Cards include the following:

  • Participating McDonald’s restaurants
  • McDonald’s online
  • Participating retail stores

McDonald’s gift cards come as physical cards with several designs to choose from and can be purchased individually or in bulk. You can ask a McDonald’s crew member to buy gift cards at a participating restaurant.

To purchase cards online, visit the online catalog to choose an available design, or apply for a corporate account to order in bulk.

Unfortunately, McDonald’s gift cards (Arch Cards) are not available online at major retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart. However, most Target and Walmart stores carry physical gift cards.

In addition, you can buy McDonald’s gift cards at several other retail stores, including:

  • Ahold
  • Food Lion
  • Giant Eagle
  • Kohls
  • Kroger
  • Safeway
  • SuperValu
  • Walgreens

Third-party retailers also sell physical and e-gift cards that can be used at participating McDonald’s restaurants.

E-gift cards designated for McDonald’s will be delivered as a credit that can be transferred to an existing credit card, debit card, Visa gift card, deposited to a checking account, or delivered as a PayPal credit.

Check with individual gift third-party gift card retailers for details.

How to Register a McDonald’s Gift Card

A McDonald’s gift card can be used once money is added to it, but it must be registered before it can be reloaded. The McDonald’s gift card can be registered online or over the phone.

To register your Arch card online, visit the McDonald’s website and click on “Reload Your Card”. You will first be prompted to sign in or to create an account.

On the next page, you will find the option to “Register New Arch Cards.” Enter the card number and PIN along with an optional description to register your card and activate the option to reload it.

You can also register and activate your gift card by calling McDonald’s Customer Service at 1-800-244-6227.

Are There Different McDonald’s Gift Cards to Choose From?

There is only one type of McDonald’s gift card available for purchase that can be used at participating McDonald’s restaurants. There are also several other cards affiliated with the McDonald’s brand.

The McDonald’s gift card that can be purchased and used to buy food at participating restaurants is also known as the Arch Card. There are several different designs to choose from, all of which can be found in the online catalog.

The Smilemakers gift card is a virtual gift card that can be used at the Smilemakers online website.

Smilemakers is a McDonald’s approved vendor that sells McDonald’s merchandise and accessories such as:

  • Bags & Totes
  • Clothing
  • Drinkware
  • Headphones & Pop sockets
  • Keychains
  • Mousepads & Phone stands
  • Pens & Notebooks
  • Seasonal Items
  • Sunglasses
  • Umbrellas

McDonald’s also has a Gold Card. This VIP gift card allows the holder to get free McDonald’s for a year or lifetime, but this card is not available for purchase.

Although certain celebrities, including Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, have been given cards after working with McDonald’s, everyone else will likely have a better chance of obtaining one by winning the McDonald’s Monopoly game.

How Much Do McDonald’s Gift Cards Cost?

McDonald’s gift cards can be purchased in whole dollar dominations ranging between $5 and $50. There is no additional cost to buy a McDonald’s gift card, and there are also no additional activation or dormancy fees.

When purchasing a McDonald’s gift card, you will only be charged for the amount that you’d like to put on the card.

The gift card can later be refilled with the amount desired, and there will be no charges if the card is no longer used.

What Other Gift Cards Can Be Used at McDonald’s?

McDonald’s does accept Visa and MasterCard debit cards, which include prepaid gift cards. Prepaid Visa and MasterCard gift cards can be found in many retail stores and online retailers.

Prepaid Visa and MasterCard gift cards can be used for in-store purchases and online orders placed through the McDonald’s app or the website.

They can also be used for McDonald’s delivery fulfilled by McDonald’s or a third-party delivery service like DoorDash or GrubHub.

Can You Use a McDonald’s Gift Card Online?

Although McDonald’s website and the mobile app offer online ordering for pickup and delivery, McDonald’s gift cards are not accepted as a payment method for online orders. While McDonald’s gift cards can be managed online, they can only be redeemed for in-store purchases.

Accepted forms of payment for online orders placed through the McDonald’s website or the app include American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards, as well as Visa and MasterCard debit cards.

Apple Pay is also accepted at McDonald’s with credit or debit cards registered to Apple Wallet on an iOS device.

How to Check a McDonald’s Gift Card Balance

To check a McDonald’s gift card balance, visit the McDonald’s Arch Card Balance page. You can also check a McDonald’s Gift Card Balance by calling 1-877-458-2200.

To check your gift card balance online, visit the McDonald’s gift card balance page. Enter your 16-digit Arch Card number and the associated PIN, then click on the “Check Balance” button at the bottom of the page.

Adding money to your McDonald’s gift card can be done in-store or online. When visiting a participating McDonald’s restaurant, a crew member at the counter can reload your card with the desired whole dollar amount.

Alternatively, you can visit the McDonald’s Arch Card Reload page online. Then, log in to your account or register for an account if you have not done so yet.

Can a McDonald’s Gift Card Be Used in Other Countries?

Any McDonald’s gift card purchased in the United States is only valid in participating McDonald’s restaurants within the U.S.

McDonald’s gift cards purchased in the U.S. are not valid in Canada or any U.S. territories, and the balance cannot be transferred to a gift card purchased in another country.

How to Send a McDonald’s Gift Card

McDonald’s gift cards can be purchased for personal use or as a gift for others. To send a McDonald’s gift card to a friend or family member, simply enter their shipping address or email at checkout.

When buying a physical gift card from the McDonald’s website, enter your email along with the shipping address of the person you’d like to send the gift card.

Gift cards are shipped via USPS and arrive within 3-10 business days. Cards cannot be sent to P.O. boxes or APO/FPO addresses.

The process is similar when sending a McDonald’s e-gift card. Enter the recipient’s email address at checkout, and the digital card will be sent directly to their inbox.

Do McDonald’s Gift Cards Expire?

McDonald’s gift cards do not expire. They are reusable and reloadable and do not have any issuance, activation, or dormancy fees.

However, McDonald’s gift cards (Arch Cards) cannot be refunded, returned, or exchanged. In addition, they cannot be redeemed for cash, check, or credit.  

How to Get a Free McDonald’s Gift Card

There are several programs through which you can get a free McDonald’s gift card.

Some third-party sites will offer a free McDonald’s gift card as a reward for participation in a program or completing certain tasks.

Popular ways of winning free McDonald’s gift cards include the following:

  • Credit card rewards
  • Grocery rebates
  • Reading emails
  • Shopping online
  • Taking surveys
  • Watching video

Playing the McDonald’s Monopoly game can also result in winning a free McDonald’s gift card in certain countries.

Check in-store or online to find out over which months the game will be held each year.

What if You Lost Your McDonald’s Gift Card?

If you lost your McDonald’s gift card, it can be replaced over the phone with your activation and reload receipts.

When your McDonald’s gift card is damaged, lost, or stolen, the first step to take is to call the McDonald’s customer service number at (800) 244-6227.

McDonald’s customer service will cancel your card immediately. You can then complete the lost/stolen Arch Card form and send it along with the original gift card activation receipt to have a new card sent to you.

On average, replacement McDonald’s gift cards arrive within 4-6 weeks of reporting them lost or stolen.


McDonald’s gift cards make great gifts. They’re reusable, reloadable, and easy to manage online. Although Arch Cards can’t be used for online purchases, they are a fun and easy addition to the wallet of anyone who enjoys frequenting McDonald’s restaurants.

If you’re interested in finding out more tips about McDonald’s, check out the related articles below.

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Last Updated: November 11, 2022

About the Author

Lana Kisner is a writer on the team with more than 15 years of experience in the food service industry.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants, listening to live music, and hiking with her dog.