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Be Wary of Royal Caribbean Virtual Gift Cards Purchased through AARP

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Regular Contributor

Be Wary of Royal Caribbean Virtual Gift Cards Purchased through AARP

After several attempts to pay for my upcoming cruise using Royal Caribbean virtual gift cards purchased through AARP, they keep getting rejected as "invalid." I followed all the procedures for submitting them to Royal as shown on the certificates and they keep getting rejected such that they will not pay for my upcoming cruise. I spent more time on the phone with Royal today and they told me to check back in another 3 - 5 days as their team works on the problem. My advice to anyone thinking they may save a few bucks by purchasing the discounted gift cards is to think twice about it as you may just be out several hundred dollars as well as wasted time on the phone with nothing to show for it. Just be wary of purchasing the Royal Caribbean virtual gift cards through AARP as they may end up showing up as "invalid" after you have already paid for them.

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Conversationalist

The beat(down) goes on!

Last year I put down a deposit for our first RCCL cruise for later this year.  On 1/4/24 I submitted a $100 "Virtual Gift Card" purchased from AARP, knowing there had been issues in the past.  I felt it prudent to limit my risk by only trying a $100 card to see if it worked.  

 

I had high hopes since they had announced that the system had been improved.

 

Maybe not. First, I tried going through my TA and gave him the card info.  He tried, but sent me the following reply;   "I have tried to use the gift card on my end but have failed since it wants a credit card-type gift card.  I called RCCL both the regular line and groups.  They suggest that you follow the instructions to get the gift card applied.  I'm sorry this did not work as we both thought.  Carnival has no issues with how you and Michelle use the gift cards, and I can process them easily."

 

I used the information that came with the "Virtual Gift Card" from AARP and sent the information on the "card" to sharedservicesgiftcertificateredemption@rccl.com.

I got and immediate response that they would be ...We are "promptly" working to review your request. Whether you have feedback, questions, or need help with a certificate application, we are committed to responding to every concern." I added the italics and quotation marks to "promptly".

Today I tried to check the balance on the gift card to see if it had been applied, but only to find out that the only Royal Caribbean Gift Cards you can check the balance on are the ones purchased directly from RCCL.  I called Royal and got transferred first to Groups (we have another couple coming with us), then to "gift card desk".  They told me that I need to allow ten days for the card to be processed.  So now I have to wait 4-5 more days, to find out if they are true to their word. 

 

So, at this point, the question is, is it worth the trouble and possible risk to purchase RCCL gift cards from AARP? Probably not at this time, sinceRCCL treats Gift Cards purchased from even reputable third party groups such as AARP as garbage.  So, what is the point in buying Gift Cards at full price from RCCL?  You're better off paying RCCL directly using a credit card.  If you want to buy gift cards to give to someone as a gift, you have to ask your self, how much do you value them as a friend?  I will update this post after 14th.

 

 

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Conversationalist

I added the above reply because I had trouble adding the url in my original reply.  I figured I would edit it and add it, but for some reason the edit function is not working, hence this post.  I tried to explain in the 4:36 PM post but I couldn't edit that one either!

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I am going through the same thing . It’s such a headache . I don’t understand why we can’t just enter it the same way we do with carnival. I used this pre pandemic it was much quicker now. It’s like pulling teeth I’m never buying one again for RC. 

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Boy what a mess Royal Caribbean is with the gift cards through AARP they won't honor them for me.  As previous poster says "invalid" spent hours and I mean hours/days on the phone to no avail. Called back AARP and was basically told sorry nothing we can do its sold directly through cruiseline.  BEWARE of RCCL gift cards through AARP.  Carnival was easy no issues.  Right now I am out 2350.00 with no recourse.  What a mess!

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Periodic Contributor

Did you ever get your issue resolved?  I wish I had searched this site and google before I bought gift cards on here for Royal Caribbean.  I am currently weighing my legal options with this transaction and with Royal Caribbean in general.  I spent nearly 30 minutes on the phone with AARP customer service and they told me they can not refund, that Royal Caribbean can. I was told by Royal Caribbean they cannot refund because a third party sold them.  So both AARP and Royal Caribbean point the finger at each other with no  solution in sight. To say that Royal Caribbean is extremely DECEPTIVE in their gift certificate/gift card marketing and redemption is an understatement.  AARP needs to do better in the products they offer on their website. At least for Royal Caribbean they need to have a HUGE DISCLAIMER stating that the gift card being offered for sale at AARP are not gift certificates in the traditional manner, but really more of a discount coupon (www.royalcaribbeancertificates.com/ 800-722-5970) told me as much.  

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Regular Contributor

cm7407640
Regular Contributor
 
Hi, my issue was resolved almost exactly a year go to the day. Please see below. However, if you want to see all I went through in detail to get my credit for the cruise, click on my user name at the top of this message and I think it will lead you through the complete thread of the prior discussion.
 
Good luck to you with all the ridiculous rigamarole they put you through to get credit for the money you've already spent for an upcoming cruise. Although I love cruising on Royal, Carnival's Gift Cards purchased on the AARP web site are simple to apply and can be used immediately with no problem.
 
06-28-2022 03:48 PM

My problem with the Royal Caribbean gift cards has now been resolved. Their value of $600 has been applied to my cruise reservation today, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. However, I don't intend to purchase anymore of the Royal Caribbean virtual gift cards. The process for redeeming them is too burdensome on the purchaser. Even when you follow all the steps exactly, all the work that is necessary to have them applied is hardly worth the effort it takes. This process should be streamlined if AARP really wants to benefit their retired members.

Thanks for all the discussion that this matter generated. However, the purchase was made in good faith as instructed on the site. The redeeming process is to blame and not the fault of the purchaser who happens to use a credit card to purchase the virtual gift cards. It is customary and the usual practice to use a credit card for any internet purchase.

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Community Concierge

@k955993c Let's get to the bottom of this. I sent you a private message for more info. Check your private messages here: Private Messages - AARP Online Community

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Regular Contributor

My problem with the Royal Caribbean gift cards has now been resolved. Their value of $600 has been applied to my cruise reservation today, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. However, I don't intend to purchase anymore of the Royal Caribbean virtual gift cards. The process for redeeming them is too burdensome on the purchaser. Even when you follow all the steps exactly, all the work that is necessary to have them applied is hardly worth the effort it takes. This process should be streamlined if AARP really wants to benefit their retired members.

Thanks for all the discussion that this matter generated. However, the purchase was made in good faith as instructed on the site. The redeeming process is to blame and not the fault of the purchaser who happens to use a credit card to purchase the virtual gift cards. It is customary and the usual practice to use a credit card for any internet purchase.

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I have purchased many many many AARP gift certificates for RC. The redemption process has been simple and quick. Payment was credited within 10 business days.  You don’t need your TA but simply send your booking information and a copy of the virtual certificate to shared redemption services email. Easy Peezy

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Community Concierge

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience, @DeniseH676156. - Diana G.

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Contributor

I made the mistake of buying the Royal gift card, believing it would be as easy to redeem as Carnival. Boy was I wrong, what a headache trying to navigate all the ridiculous rules and procedures for redemption. 

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As the original poster of this particular topic, I feel your pain. I do want you to know that I did eventually get credit for them to pay for my cruise. Good luck to you!

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Honored Social Butterfly

Bon Voyage!!

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Regular Contributor

Thank you!

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Bronze Conversationalist

I am glad you were able to solve the problem.

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Regular Contributor

Me too! Thank you.

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Community Concierge

@cm7407640 Thank you for letting us know. The Royal Caribbean gift card can only be applied to a new individual reservation; it sounds like you may be trying to apply it to an existing reservation. Check out the terms & conditions for those cards below:

 

Gift Certificate must be redeemed through Royal Caribbean International for the US dollar value as outlined on the face of the certificate.

1. Certificate must be used as a form of payment towards a new reservation made directly with Royal Caribbean. Once the gift certificate is applied to the reservation made, the reservation may be transferred to your preferred travel agency.

2. Certificate is valid only for Royal Caribbean International sailings in USD and is not redeemable for cash. It may be applied to all ships, departures and stateroom categories.

3. Certificate can only be applied to a NEW individual reservation in USD.

4. Certificate may not be applied to a group reservation, charter or customized group program.

5. Certificate may not be used towards onboard credit or to settle any shipboard charges.

6. A deposit is required at the time of booking.

7. Certificates may be used in multiples and may be used to supplement cash payment or credit card.

8. All reservations are subject to availability.

9. Once a reservation has been made with a Certificate, normal cancellation policy, schedules for deposit and final payments shall apply.

10. Changes to the reservation may be permitted, subject to availability.

11. Certificate is transferable only when gifted and bears no expiration date.

12. Certificate is nonrefundable and not replaceable whether lost, stolen or if booking is cancelled.

13. Certificate shall be void where prohibited or restricted by law and if sold for cash or other consideration.

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Regular Contributor

As of today, Friday, June 24, 2022, the representative with Royal Caribbean says progress has been made to apply virtual gift cards to my upcoming cruise. In the latest call, I was told they were applied on Thursday, June 23, but to wait 7 - 10 more days to see them show up on my cruise reservation. Even if these end up working, there is still a problem on how long this takes to get these virtual gift cards purchased through AARP to be applied to a Royal Caribbean reservation. It has now been 18 business days since Royal Caribbean said they received the cards by email and that they would be applied in 7 - 10 days. Now, I am supposed to wait even longer. The final payment is due July 8. My partner is scheduled for outpatient surgery on July 7 for which I will have to drive him to and from the hospital. I will be l leaving on another cruise on July 8. I won't have time to mess with this if processing takes any longer. This should have been wrapped up long ago. This is giving AARP and Royal Caribbean both a bad name as far as these virtual gift cards go. They definitely need some improvements. It shouldn't be this hard to use them!

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Newbie

I had the same problem, I should have never purchased it.  AARP should not be selling them.  Royal Caribbean will not honor my gift card, and it is a new booking.  I followed directions as stated in Terms and Conditions.  Now I wasted money and have a useless gift card.

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Regular Contributor

Please see my latest reply above for the latest status of my virtual gift card purchase. Please keep trying to get your virtual gift cards applied. Royal Caribbean is now saying they are processing the payment for my cruise using the virtual gift cards as of yesterday, June 23. I wish you good luck with all this. I know what a pain it has been trying to save some money!

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Regular Contributor

So sorry you have had the same problem. AARP should not be selling such worthless cards to their members on their site. Since it has happened to both of us, it shows AARP is the source of the problem and it is not the purchasers!

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Regular Contributor

AARP probably did not know until you and others let them know.  I have always found AARP willing to help solve a situation of one kind or another.  Things happen.  I feel your frustration.

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Thank you for your comments. If AARP did anything to help resolve this, they did it in the background. I was on my own as far as I know. AARP never offered to help me find a solution or help resolve the situation except to comment that I must have submitted the Royal Caribbean virtual gift cards for payment in error.

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Bronze Conversationalist

Hopefully those gift cards were bought with a credit card. Which gives you more power to protest and not pay at all.

My main problem with AARP is that they do not stand by the products they sell. 

 

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I did buy the virtual gift cards with a credit card. However, that $540 charge to the credit card company is already paid off. I was not expecting there to be a problem with use of the virtual gift cards as Royal Caribbean gave me the impression that it was only a temporary glitch.

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Honored Social Butterfly


@cm7407640 wrote:

I did buy the virtual gift cards with a credit card. However, that $540 charge to the credit card company is already paid off. I was not expecting there to be a problem with use of the virtual gift cards as Royal Caribbean gave me the impression that it was only a temporary glitch.


I think this may be the problem - at least the immediate one.  As @170938b said below, there is a 60-day period to which you can dispute a charge - 

Has it been over 60-days since you purchased the virtual travel cards with your credit card?  It does not matter whether or not you have paid the specific charge - you could still dispute it for the legally stated time - This is covered in Regulation Z - Truth in Lending.

OCC.gov Help with My Bank - Credit Cards - Disputes & Unauthorized Charges

It could be that AARP doesn't activate the gift cards until this period is over - thus the request for the email copies - so Royal can follow the activation or whomever was the issuer of the gift cards (actually they are debit cards - per the link below)  - could be also be Expedia or Tango cards or even Bancorp Bank - since I don't know who issued them.  

AARP Travel Savings, Discounts and Offers - Disclosure

I am pretty sure that this is a processing problem - and I am sure you understand how this problem could happen.  I mean none of parties want to get stuck trying to collect on a virtual travel card that has been secured by a credit card that the person receiving it can dispute - so it seems that they (whomever they may be) may not activate the cards until the credit card funds cannot be reversed in a dispute.  

But on the other hand, your query to AARP CS should be followed up and the process explained to you.  Seems they are lacking in basic knowledge of their programs and benefits - 

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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 "so it seems that they (whomever they may be) may not activate the cards until the credit card funds cannot be reversed in a dispute." 

I think this type of practice could be considered a scam. 

@AARPJanelleM please kindly look into this possibility and let us know the result of your inquiry. 

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Honored Social Butterfly

 


@a170938b wrote:

I think this type of practice could be considered a scam. 


This doesn't sound like a scam to me - it just seems like a processing procedure that all the parties may not be aware of when using these type gift card which they purchased with their credit card. 

Heck, who even knows what these cards are actual process as - gift card? - travel card?  Are they a retailer's card or a retailer branded VISA/MC/AE labeled ???? card - all that makes a difference in the processing and rules of use.


It is hard to determine because it also depends largely on the Card issuer and their policiies on gift card purchases.  Again who is the issuer of the egift card?  

Some Credit Card issuers will process gift card purchases with their card as a "cash advance" transaction thus there is no customer dispute time period at all.  That could be the case here but it doesn't sound like it because of the delay in affirming the gift card amount.

 

All I know is this sounds very much like a processing procedure and if so, the consumer needs to be aware of it so they can make their best decision in how to pay for the gift cards especially if time is of essence. 

 

As I have said, I don't have privy to the detailed info on any side of it - not the credit card policy of the person using it to pay for the egift card purchase and not how such a purchase is categorized, nor the classification of these type of virtual gift card for travel by the credit card company nor the egift card retailer.

 

It is always best to always read the small mice print.  In this situation, one has to figure out who might be controlling the process and what their mice print might say -  AARP ?  Royal?  The CC company on which the egift card purchase was made.   

 

There is also a difference in "open loop gift cards" and "closed loop gift cards".  Most likely these are "closed loop gift cards" - but there are so many possible go-betweens, it is hard to tell -

American Express.com 12/20/2019 - Can You Buy Gift Cards with a Credit Card?

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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