Big News at BigCrumbs

UPDATE: payout has dropped to 1.4%. 
UPDATE: payout has dropped to 1.75%.  Still a good deal. 

BigCrumbs increases the American Express gift card payout to 2.25%! 

BigCrumbs is a cash back portal that is special in that one of the merchants available for cash back is American Express Gift Cards.  Until recently, BigCrumbs offered 1.4% cash back for Amex gift card purchases, but they now have increased the rate to 2.25%.  There is no indication as to how long this new rate will be in place, so I recommend jumping on this soon if you have the need for it. 

American Express accepts credit cards for these purchases, but I don’t recommend using Citibank cards as you’re likely to get charged a cash advance fee with those.

The new 2.25% rate is big news for deal seekers and mile & point enthusiasts.  For deal seekers, one could buy these gift cards and then use them anywhere American Express is accepted in order to save over 2% on all purchases.  It’s even a good deal for giving Amex gift cards as presents.  For point enthusiasts, this offers several opportunities.  Whether you are working towards meeting minimum spend on a new credit card, or just want to earn more points on a particular card, or you’re trying to reach a big spend threshold, this could be for you:

  • Time-shift spend: Buying Amex gift cards is a great way to increase credit card spend now, and then use the gift card for spend later.
  • Increase credit card spend: Often there are options to use credit cards in place of cash, but with a 2% or so fee.  You will commonly see this with tax payments, some utilities, etc.  By buying these gift cards at a discount (via cash back) you can offset the fee so that it now makes sense to pay by credit card (as long as American Express is accepted).
  • Manufacture spend: There are some tricks people use to convert gift cards to cash (for example, see “Turn bank gift cards into cash“), but with these techniques, there are often fees involved.  The 2.25% rebate can offset some or all of those fees. 

There are two versions of the Amex gift card shop, business and personal.  The business shop allows purchases of up to $75,000 at a time (wow!), whereas the personal shop limits purchases to $5,000 at a time.  In order to reach those levels you would need to buy multiple gift cards as the maximum value of any card is $3000.

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Save on shipping

By default, you will usually be charged a fee for each card ($3.95) and a single shipping fee.  According to Astrophsx, in this FlyerTalk thread, you can use coupon codes to eliminate (or reduce) the shipping fee, but not the purchase fee:

Do not use a coupon code when purchasing to remove the fees, you may not get cashback. Use code WRAP12P for free standard shipping, and a backup code for free shipping is AFLQ42012. For business you can use AFLQ42012 for $5.95 off shipping.

Eliminate the card fee

One reader has told me that he uses code EMSVCA to get the $3.95 card fees waived.  He says that he has received cash back every time despite using this code.  Also, Jimmy at Travel By Points also told me that he recently succeeding with this.  I haven’t tried it so I can’t promise anything here.  If you are just buying one or two cards, you’re probably better off using one of the shipping codes above, but if you’re buying lots of cards, it might be worth trying this code.  Please let me know if it works!

More Details

Astrophsx did a great job detailing this opportunity in this FlyerTalk thread.  Many questions you have may already be answered there.

Caution

There are a few things to watch out for:

  • Some people have reported that Citibank treats these cards as cash advances.  Your best bet, with any credit card, is to first call your credit card company and have them set your cash advance limit to zero.  That way, the worst that will happen is that the purchase will be declined if the bank chooses to treat it as a cash advance.
  • You can use American Express credit cards to buy these, but some people have reported getting flagged for an American Express financial review after doing this too often.  That’s not the end of the world, but not pleasant either.
  • After buying a number of these cards last year, American Express suddenly stopped allowing the purchases to go through.  They wouldn’t ever explain why when I called. 
  • A few people have reported failing when trying to use these to load the American Express for Target card.

 

BigCrumbs Referrals

When someone signs up for a BigCrumbs account with your referral link, you then get paid a tiny bit every time that person saves money through BigCrumbs. And, the person who originally referred you also receives a small amount. With Amex gift cards, each referrer earns 1/10 of a percent.  Theoretically you can setup a friend’s account first and then refer yourself in order to get this extra small percentage, but BigCrumbs has strict language in their T&C against doing so.  Personally, I’m happy getting “just” 2.25% when buying gift cards.

If you are new to BigCrumbs, please consider signing up with one of these links:

 

Credit goes to…

Many readers alerted me to this deal.  Thank you all!  I believe that the first to alert me was Ryan, who wrote the following comment on my “Contact Frequent Miler” page:

Just as a followup…I’ve found two cvs’s that allow the Amex GC’s to be used to buy vanilla’s.  And both CVS’s are well stocked.  They still check my ID, but then i show them it is a gift card, and they just shrug and say OK.  Now, with BC’s updated 2.25% back…this could get a little crazy.

Also, RomsDeals beat me to the punch with his blog post here.

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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. I ordered one of these last week – the shipping charges don’t go away completely…
    If we order the gift cards with a certain denominations – the shipping charges are $8.95 – this (WRAP12P) code helps us bring that down to $3.00

    So the final price would be $3.95 (purchase fee) + $3.00 (next day shipping)

    • Srini: Thanks for the reminder regarding shipping. When you order cards over a certain value, the cheapest shipping option is no longer available, and the shipping code doesn’t completely eliminate the charges for the more expensive options. Still, $3 for shipping isn’t bad.

    • CHRIS: No, it’s not necessary to register a bank gift card (Amex, Visa, MC) before using it at Target to load the Amex Target card. However, as mentioned in this post, some people have reported that certain Amex gift cards don’t work for that purpose.

    • Sergey: Good to know! There are different kinds of Amex gift cards and so maybe some work, but others do not. I’ll order one through BigCrumbs and test it out.

      Peter Amling: When I asked Discover about which online purchases qualify for 5% cash back they told me that there were some minor exclusions. So, I’m not sure whether these purchases would count or not (especially since they would be coded as coming from Amex). It would be great if it works though!

  2. It’s worth mentioning that the Discpver More card is paying 5% cash back on all online purchases this quarter. So combined with this you are actually making some money! I think the limit is $1500 but I would have to check.

  3. BigCrumbs has always been good to me in crediting cash back. What’s interesting is that if I go through BigCrumnbs, the codes to remove the fees/shipping don’t work. If I don’t go through BigCrumbs, then the codes work. AmEx seems to know you’re coming through from a referral link and therefore won’t let you apply the codes. Even if I were to use a 2% cash back card to purchase these, I still seem like I’d be better off using a 5% CB card where Visa GC’s are sold at retail (after all fees are involved). Unless you play with BlueBird, I don’t see the point. Keep in mind there’s a purchase limit on these too. I believe once you make a purchase over a certain amount (I forget what that is — maybe $5,000), you can’t purchase again for another 14 or 15 calendar days. Otherwise, AmEx will not allow the purchase to go through.

  4. Thanks FM for the shoutout! Also, be careful that AMEX gift cards do not provide purchase protection. I usually buy things that I don’t plan on returning with AMEX Gift card.

  5. amex advertises fee free gc’s and we have codes here for free shipping and also for fees free. Does amex allow two codes to be input on one purchase?

    Does AMEX allow GCs be shipped to different address other than billing address? ( I am visiting my daughter in CA )

    • PJ: I believe you are restricted to one code. At times they do have certain cards with no fee (depends on which card you pick). If they have those, then clearly you would be better off using the free (/discount) shipping code. Note that, when I’ve seen them in the past, the fee free cards were limited to $100 max value.

    • @PJ, @FM, Even though I clicked on the cards that said no purchase fee – when I actually placed the order, I was charged a purchase fee 🙁

  6. Hi FM

    I love your blog. I have about 24 Thousand in 2012 estimated tax payments that I can make. Do you know if I bought 8 ( $3000 each ) Amex business gift cards and tried to make payments through USA Tax would it go through as a credit card ? Are there limits on how many/ often tax payments can be made with USA Tax ? If my calculations are right, I would be getting back 2.25 % from Big Crumbs and paying USA Tax a 1.89% fee. Thanking you in advance for your insight.

  7. I can confirm @chimmy comment. I tried to buy two $3000 gift cards a few days apart and could not. I triead again a few days later and rejected again. When I called, I finally found that Amex has some sort of $5000 limit in sales every 14 days.

  8. Thks FM..
    I have few $100 gift cards that I got from Staples deal that I want to put into larger credit card/cash out.
    Thks!

  9. CHRIS, you probably have like 10 of those $100 visa gift cards from the Staples deal. Were you able to get a $1000 Amex gift card (1x fee) this way? Or do you have to get 10 $100 Amex gift cards (10x fees?

  10. I signed up for BigCrumbs over the weekend, and opted to get only monthly e-mails.

    Today I got a surprise e-mail from them, and AMEX gift card purchases now results in 2.5 percent cashback just for 2 days starting today!! I did not see the promo on their main website, so maybe you will have to sign up for e-mails first.

  11. Thanh: it is not Amex, it is visa/mc. I accumulated to $2.5k visa/mc gift cards from staples from $100, $200 and 4 pack, $50s.
    Not bad, at least $375 free staples credit or more..
    I just went into Target today and load my Amex with 6 gift cards + chase freedom, without a problem. Was worried a little bit, but went smoothly. I always worried whenever doing things for the 1st time 🙂

    FM: just want to confirm (i will be leaving out of the country this week). I can use bluebird oversea but not the amex target right? and, I am wondering if chase freedom has foreign transactions fee or not…

  12. Hi FM;

    I’m a newbie, and I enjoy your site a lot. I read everyday. I enrolled at Bigcrumbs.com, but I do not know where to go to buy AE gift cards that you talk about.
    I want to join the crowd!

    Thanks.

  13. If you want tobe serious cant you sign up for their free shipping program? Then use the no fee code to get free everything from Amex.

  14. Discover 5% on first $1500 purchase works per someone on the FT thread. Not all Discover cards work though, and you have to register for the promo first it seems.

  15. Big Crumbs now showing “up to 2.5% cash back”. Sweet. I am using these to pay my property taxes and meet spend on my Amex Gold 75K offer ($10K spend in 4 months). My local property tax office charges 2.3% convenience fee. I’m actually making money paying my taxes, plus get 75K MR points for generating $10K spend. Gotta love it. Thought about grabbing the 1/10 rebate for referral from my wife, but what the hey…got to leave some crumbs for Big Crumbs…

  16. @Sue – search for “american express” in Big Crumbs search box and you’ll get back two choices – personal or business amex.

  17. Did you all get a similar message after ordering or am I the chosen one 🙂

    Your purchase has been submitted to our system and is being processed. You will receive a status e-mail within 2 business days. Orders cannot be changed once submitted to our system.

    TIA!

    • PJ: yes, as far as I know you can use any Amex card to pay. As far as official payments, yes you can lower their fees to $3.95, but only with Mastercard/Visa gift cards since these are treated as debit cards.

  18. hi Geffrey and FM

    when you use gift card to pay for official payments I thought the fees is much much reduced down to $3.95~ per payment correct ?

  19. I signed up for Big Crumbs yesterday and made the GC purchase. Can anyone tell me how long it takes for Big Crumbs to send me an email acknowledging that a purchase was made? I haven’t received anything from Big Crumbs since the purchase. Thanks!

  20. been following this forum, and pretty great. I am fairly newbie when it comes to mile collection game, however, with so much useful information here, we are on our way.

    We will be paying property tax, which should help wife and I both reach the minimum spend for the 50k bonus points.

    Most of the bills we pay, they accept the credit card as the payment method, so we don’t have to do the Vanilla reload game that much, as we are not trying to “abuse” the system. Making a balanced approach with about $2k per months at the office supply stores for the gift cards, and put everything else on the card to balance it out. Plus, we go to Staples, OM, and OD for gift cards to spread it out amongst different stores.

    We are starting one card at a time, until we can truely go all out with various bonus points.

    OH, only thing I have to do with Amex prepaid card is to call the Amex customer service to register my card with my name and address, so that address verification can be done when paying property tax online.

  21. Im not sure why or how srini bought gift cards through amex web site portal with an amex branded card as I just tried and it did not work. I set up my cash advance limit to zero and therefore got denied. Called citi / amex and they confirmed it is considered a cash advance and because I set my limit to zero (as you wisely suggested in your post) I got declined.

    Back to square one. Anyone else have any ideas on how to meet spend requirement for citi amex card?

    Cheers

    RJ

  22. @RJ,
    I did not use an AMEX branded card. I used a VISA branded card.
    And I clearly see the transaction counted as “Purchases” in my account activity.

    But – as we always say around here..YMMV 🙂

    The Merchant Category for this transaction: “DIRECT MARKETING/DIRECT MARKETERS”

  23. Very weird indeed. Perhaps because it was a Citi visa branded card. Who knows… I will try that one in the next few days when it arrives.

    Cheers

  24. And, Srini used ebates not Big Crumbs, who knows, maybe that is a factor too, (in not getting the cash advance charges from Citi).

  25. Anyone else been to CVS lately to buy beans? My usually 2 spots no longer have beans. And I tried purchasing moneypak and its hard coded to now allow credit.

  26. Does anyone know (or has purchased over the last 12 months) if there would be tax on over $2K GC purchase that may need to be reported to IRS?

  27. I am new to this. So the 2.25% cash back is given in a form of check to me from Bigcrumbs or in a form of lower charge (2.25%) less to the credit card? Also, can I use Ink Bold or any Chase CC to pay for it, or it needs to be paid with American Express CC to get the 2.25%? Thanks for clarify this.

  28. Yo: no problem at CVS here

    Poundering: I do not believe that tax would be reported

    Marie: BigCrumbs tracks your purchase and will pay you the 2.25% about 3 months later. You can use any credit card to pay, but its a good idea to call your bank first to set your cash advance limit to 0 so as to avoid the chance of the purchase coding as an advance

  29. That is what I got for promotion code “We’re sorry, but the Promotion code you entered is not valid or has expired. Please check to make sure that you entered the correct Code.”

  30. It seems standard shipping is not available for any order greater than $200. How do you guys use the free shipping code?

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