More cash back for Amex gift cards

TopCashBack now offers cash back for American Express Gift Cards.

One convenient way to meet credit card spend requirements quickly is to buy gift cards.  American Express gift cards, in particular, are convenient because they can be purchased online through cash back portals, so that you actually profit a bit when making the purchase.  You can then use those gift cards at any place that takes Amex for payment.

TopCashBack currently offers 1.5% cash back for American Express gift cards, which slightly beats BigCrumbs, which currently offers 1.4% cash back. Some people do better with BigCrumbs by setting up accounts for their relatives and referring themselves. Each referrer gets .2% cash back, and the referrer of the referrer also gets .2% cash back. So, it’s possible to get as much as 1.8% cash back from BigCrumbs, but this clearly violates their terms & conditions. Personally, I wouldn’t do this, as it crosses my ethical line.

There are two versions of the American Express gift card shop. One is intended for personal use and one for business. Only the personal one is available through TopCashBack, but both are available through BigCrumbs. (Edit: both personal and business cards are available through both portals). The personal site limits orders to $5000 per month whereas the business site limits orders to $75000 per month.

On Friday, last week, I tested out TopCashBack by going through their portal to buy a $3000 Amex gift card.  Two days later, 1.5% cash back showed up in my TopCashBack account as pending:

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It is not unusual (with any cash back portal) for it to take a few months before the cash back becomes payable.  It will be interesting to see how long this one takes.

If you’re interested in saving money buying gift cards via TopCashBack, here’s how…

1. Log into TopCashBack

Search for American Express Prepaid and Gift Cards. Click “Get Cashback Now”.

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2. Buy gift cards

In order to minimize fees, I recommend buying fewer, larger gift cards. The limit, per card, is $3000. Also, coupons are usually available to reduce gift card shipping fees. For example, you can reduce shipping charges by $5.95 by using the promo code AFLQ12013.

If you buy more than one gift card, you might do better to use a code that removes each card’s $3.95 fee. Try code EMSVCA.

Pay with the best rewards credit card available, but do not pay with a Citibank card as Citi treats these purchases as cash advances. If you’re unsure about whether your credit card company will treat these as regular purchases, call to set your cash advance limit to zero before purchasing gift cards.

3. Calculate Savings

Let’s show an example: If you go through TopCashBack and buy a $3000 gift card using the shipping promo code shown above, you will pay a total of $3006.95. Then, you should get $45 back from TopCashBack.  Your profit, then, would be $45 – $6.95 = $38.05.  As a percentage, the cash back gives you a savings of 1.27%.

About Prepaid Cards

American Express offers free prepaid reloadable cards through their site.  Since, TopCashBack advertises $10 back for prepaid cards, I went through the portal and ordered a prepaid card to see if I would get $10 for free.  So far, this “purchase” hasn’t shown up in my TopCashBack account, but I’ll let you know if or when it does.

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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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  1. Hate to say it but AMEX has shut down the codes when you start at ANY kind of cash back site. EMSVCA and EM12 for no fee for extra cards only works when you start direct. If you have the free premium 1 year shipping, and buy say $5000 in cards, then it is still worth paying the card fee with no code vs the cash you get back.

    • Delta Points: That’s interesting. In December, readers told me that the EMSVCA code was once again working. I just tried it now, though, and can confirm as you said that it doesn’t work. I also tried a bunch of other codes which also didn’t work. Luckily, the free shipping code I posted does work fine. I’ve updated the post by crossing out the part about the no-fee codes. Thanks for the tip.

    • Marc W: No, you can’t use Amex gift cards directly to fund bluebird, but you can use them to buy Vanilla Reload cards at stores like CVS and then use the Vanilla Reload cards to fund bluebird.

  2. FWIW, TopCashBack has never posted any cash back for anything I’ve purchased there. For the couple purchases that I notified them about not posting, I never heard a response. It seems like other people have pretty good luck with TopCashBack, but I have not. On the other hand, I’ve had great luck with BigCrumbs, Ebates, MrRebates, Discover, Chase and they’ve all been more than happy to add the cash back if the purchase doesn’t post automatically. For 0.1% less, I’d stick with BigCrumbs as the more reliable method.

    • Chimmy: I’ve only had problems with specific merchants within TopCashBack (specifically Radisson & CouponTrade). All others have posted fine. That said, I agree that if you are comfortable with BigCrumbs, the difference isn’t big enough to warrant a switch.

    • Joe: Yes, if you’re OK with a max size of $500 per card and if you have a Chase Ink card, then Office Depot is a better deal. However, many people either don’t have Ink cards or have reasons for wanting to increase spend on other cards (e.g. trying to meet min spend requirements for new credit card sign-ups). So, in the latter case, Amex gift cards with cash back is a good deal

  3. MileageUpdate, how long does it take typically for your PlasticJungle purchases to post at TCB? That’s precisely one of the merchants I’m talking about when I discussed problems with TCB.

  4. I’ve used TCB twice and its posted both times. I am not sure how long it takes to pay out though. I’ve heard it takes a while… I do like BigCrumbs better so might stick with that.

  5. Sorry Frequent Miler but your math calculation was done incorrectly. 1.5% back on a $300 purchase would be $4.50 and not $45 as you have indicated. 15% back would give you a gross $45 back but not 1.5%.

  6. If I use my new plat Amex to buy gift cards from Amex using topcashback, will it count as a purchase and not a cash advance?

    • AJ: This is just a good way to save extra money and/or timeshift credit card spend. With VR cards, the cash back would more than offset the VR fee, so you would actually make a bit of money while earning points.

  7. What’s the best way to liquidate these AMEX gcs besides buying VR? Drugstores in my area always want to match the ID with the name on the credit card. Since these AMEX gcs don’t have a name on them, they won’t take them.

  8. I heard reports of many people getting their transactions canceled. Also heard this may increase risk of FR by Amex..especially if you use your Amex card. Have you heard the same? This was from FlyerTalk

  9. If you buy the pre-paid card, will it count as a “debit” card when making purchases? 90% of my attempts at CVS to buy VR have been shot down when trying to purchase with a credit card.

  10. – how frequent can you buy 5K personal GC? Is it per person? per CC or per address?
    – Can an individual buy business GC. Apparently you need to enter tax ID number of the business, anyway to bypass it?

    • Johnnycomeslate: I assume the $5K personal is per person. Yes, I believe that an individual could buy business GC with your SSN as your tax ID, but truthfully I’ve never tried it.

      HikerT: Have you dealt with TCB lately? My impression is that they’ve gotten much better, but I have no doubt there is still a long way for them to go.

  11. TCB is horrible. Cross your fingers and pray your CB posts because they are inept at investigating cash back and refuse to respond to follow up tickets. There is no way I would encourage anyone to use TCB for a measly 0.1% difference in CB.

  12. FM: I have AMEX gold that I signed up last time to earn 75k points.
    I bought AMEX gift cards then for total 5k; somehow it got denied, I think because I dont see it being denied purchase on my amex but I never got charge for it or any communications from AMEX about it so i let it go.
    Looking at my purchasing pattern then, it always have been $100 – $3000 transactions since I put most of my big expenses there, so pattern maybe not an issue and i have tested it if I am allowed to purchase $5k transactions and I am okey. Do you know why the rejection?
    2. which portal to use, personal or business? I do have self business but purchasing this gift card obviously not for business purpose. IT asked for TIN or SS#.
    3. How much do you value Amex point in $$ sense? 1 pts = 1 cents? or less? because I am debating to transfer these points to British airways or use the points to purchase Iphone 5 via Amexshop. Via BA, I need 100k miles+ $450 to travel from SFO – SINGAPORE. If I use the points to buy Iphone, 89k pts roughly about $550. O yah, to transfer to BA, i need to pay .06 cents/miles i believe.
    Do you think i better off transferring to BA (30% last day today) or cash it out…

    currently working on 20k spending on my BA 🙂

    thks!

    CHRIS

    • CHRIS:
      1) No, I don’t know why your purchase was rejected.
      2) If you’re OK with the $5K / month limit, why not just use the personal site?
      3) My Fair Trading Price estimate for Amex MR points is 1.29 cents per point. You can get much, much more value than that by transferring to airline miles and then using those miles for high value redemptions. Usually if you use points to buy something like an iPhone, you’ll get 1 cent or less value, so I don’t usually recommend that, but it really depends on what’s important to you. As to the 30% BA transfer bonus, Amex does run that deal fairly often, so it is likely to come back if you miss this one.

  13. FM,
    Thks for the reply.
    Actually i never redeem anything with airlines miles for travelling in the past so I have been missing alot.
    My goal travel is from SFO to Indonesia. However, If i select indonesia as final destination in BA’s executive club, it doesnt allow or no selection/flight available. How to go around it? buy from BA from SFO to singapore and then buy personally from Singapore to Indonesia/Jakarta?

    Is this right?

  14. Office Max has an offer of $10 back on two $50 gift cards this week. I have one near work so picked up a few during lunch. It rang up as ten bucks EACH so the cost for $100 in MC GC was $80 plus $9.90 for activation. Went back to the register a few times and got the $20 off each time. Not a big bonanza but used my INK for 5x and picked up a few bucks in the process. Thought i’d pass it along……….

    • smay: Thanks! I now have a post on this OfficeMax deal ready to publish tomorrow morning. Sorry for dragging my feet…
      Johnnycomeslate: Yes, you get $20 off $100 at OfficeMax by buying 2 $50 OfficeMax gift cards (through Saturday Jan 19)

  15. I signed up for Big Crumbs and tried to buy $3k of Amex gift card but was denied because Amex would not ship to Hawaii. I then tried again this time sending it to my second home in Seattle. Again denied because the billing address for my credit card is a Hawaiian address. Should I change my billing address to Seattle? Will this cause any problems if some of my credit cards have a Hawaiian address and others have a Seattle address? Any Suggestions. Thank you in advance.

  16. Honest question, how are people finding $500 GC at OD or Staples to use INK on? In most LA Area Stores the AMEX GC and all others are $200 max! Please do share.

  17. I have one 1000-dollar American Express gift card. Is it okay to use them to buy Vanilla Reload cards?

    If so, can I pay separately for the fees so that I can buy two 500 Vanilla Reload dollar cards in one American Express gift card?

    Thank you.

  18. FM:

    Above, your comment says “Johnnycomeslate: Yes, you get $20 off $100 at OfficeMax by buying 2 $50 OfficeMax gift cards (through Saturday Jan 19)”

    The $20 off is from buying 2 $50 MASTERCARDS, not OfficeMax gift cards.

    Everyone else:

    I can confirm that the office max mastercard promo is alive and well. I went last night, picked up 2 $50 gift cards and the total was $89.90 (used ink bold for the extra points). Under the t&c on the actual ad, it says one per household, but after I bought the first two, I immediately went back to the rack to pickup 2 more and the total came to @89.90 again. So, I picked up $200 worth of mastercards for under $180, plus another ~$20 in UR points, depending on how your value them. All in all, a great day and worth the trip. As a side not, the racks were well stocked with $50 mastercard gift card, but I imagine this will change tomorrow with FM’s post. Get out this evening!

  19. FM,

    Did you get 100k from buying Amex gift card from Amex using Platinum?? I still don’t see anything in my account. Just checking.

    Thanks.

    LW

  20. @FM, @TMicro, others
    I suspect that you won’t get any points on these purchases for first 3000 in purchases (since you get 100K points for that). You’ll start getting points on purchases after that.
    Have you tried calling AMEX to check about bonus requirements completion?

  21. @Picmeup

    There have been some reports on FlyerTalk about people that have bought Amex GC’s and it has counted towards the minimum spend. No luck for me though.

  22. Picmeup: You should get points both for the first $3K in purchases and the 100K bonus. That’s the way it normally works anyway.

    My wife’s 100K points showed up today, so the $3K spend on gift cards did count!

    TMicro: I’d recommend sending Amex a private message asking for the points since you’ve satisfied the spend.

  23. @FM
    I have made some purchases (not AMEX GCs) and first statement has been generated. But my MR points earned shows zero. That’s why I was wondering if you start earning MR points after initial 3K purchase. Good to hear that by that time I would have 103K points. Do the MR points post after payment is made? or is there a usual delay?

  24. Picmeup: I don’t know how long it takes for the points to show up. I thought they would show up immediately after the statement closed, but that didn’t happen for me. We’ll have to wait and see.

  25. Hi,
    Any luck with the discount code recently? I keep getting “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.” even though it’s supposed to be good thru April.

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