December 3, 2012
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.
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!
Astrophsx did a great job detailing this opportunity in this FlyerTalk thread. Many questions you have may already be answered there.
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.
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:
- Frequent Miler’s link
- Astrophsx’s link (as thanks for creating the helpful FlyerTalk thread)
- JudyJFLA’s link (Astrophsx gives Judy credit for breaking the news)
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.