Amex Gift Cards, this and that

I’ve reported before that it is possible to get 1.5% cash back via TopCashBack or 1.4% cash back via BigCrumbs when buying Amex gift cards online.  Here are some miscellaneous updates on that topic…

Financial review fears

Some people who have ordered large amounts of gift cards from American Express, using American Express credit cards to pay, have suffered through American Express financial reviews.  This means that American Express freezes all of you Amex card accounts and requests documentation (such as tax forms) to prove to them that you are able to sustain such high levels of spend (and to pay it back).  Regardless of whether the financial review satisfies American Express, its probably an event that you would prefer to avoid.  So, just note that as a caution before you buy too many gift cards!

FatWallet vs. TopCashBack

Currently, the difference in payout between FatWallet and TopCashBack is very small (1.4% vs. 1.5%).  In general, people have had very positive experiences with FatWallet (see, for example, “FatWallet sets a high bar for cash back portals“).  However, experiences with TopCashBack have been mixed.  While I haven’t had much trouble, some readers have reported so much trouble that they’ve vowed never to use the site again.  Again, just consider that a caution.  As long as the difference in payout is so small, you may be better off going with FatWallet.

Discount codes

There are usually discount codes available to either reduce shipping charges or eliminate fees from Amex gift card purchases.  However, readers have reported problems with codes I’ve reported in the past.  One reader reports success with the code “PHONEGIFT3” but when I tried it I received an error.  Another reader reported success with the code “EMSVCA” but that too gave me an error.  It seems that if I start my session in BigCrumbs or TopCashBack, the codes don’t work.  If I go directly to Amex, the codes do work, but then I won’t get 1.4%/1.5% cash back. 

The one code I’ve found that does seem to work after going through a cash back portal is AFLQ12013.  I’ve tried this successfully from both BigCrumbs and TopCashBack. This code subtracts $5.95 from your shipping charges. 

Have you used any codes successfully lately with a cash back portal?  If so, please report the codes in the comments below.

TopCashBack confirmed

A number of readers have reported frustration with TopCashBack for various reasons and have questioned whether they will pay out reliably for Amex gift cards.  This is just one small data point, but its worth noting that my transactions from January 11 have moved from pending to confirmed:


While this is reassuring, its also a good reminder that getting cash back can take a long time (from any portal).

Free Money

It looks like you can get cash back for ordering free American Express prepaid gift cards.  BigCrumbs offers $7 back and TopCashBack offers $10.  I experimented by going through TopCashBack to American Express Gift Cards and I searched for Prepaid Cards.  I then ordered one for my wife.  You can get one with no money loaded on it and there is no charge.  I later received confirmation from TopCashBack that $10 was pending (and the status is now “confirmed”):


Each person (based on SSN) can order up to 3 free prepaid cards, so this can be up to $30 free money per person.  I wonder if one were to cancel the cards if they could order more…?

To find the prepaid cards, go to the gift cards section, scroll to the bottom and look for a tiny hyperlink titled “prepaid cards”:


Reader Tip: Adding your name to the card

This tip comes from a reader who noted that Amex allows you to add a message to each gift card and that the message appears at the bottom of the card in the same place that a name would usually appear on a credit card.  Soooo, if you plan to use these gift cards for yourself, simply put your own name in as the message.  That way, if a store asks to see your ID, they can compare the name on your ID to the one on your “credit card”.


To get to the customizable gift cards, scroll to the bottom of the gift card screen and look for the tiny “gift cards” hyperlink:


Then, select “Custom Message Gift Cards”.  Warning: I have not tested whether this will result in cash back if you came from a cash back portal.  I expect it will, but I don’t yet have proof.

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  1. Thanks for the heads up on the free $10 for getting a prepaid card.

    Why are you only limited to x3? I accidentally mistyped my SSN and it still went through

  2. Do you know in which step you can add a message? I just tried, I could not find where you can add a message before an order is submitted.

    • Karen: I think you have to go to the “customized gift cards” section. Scroll to the bottom of the screen, click “gift cards”, then select “Custom Message Gift Cards”. NOTE: I assume cash back will qualify for these, but I haven’t tested it.

  3. Has anyone tryid using Chase Ink for GC purchase? Does Chase consider this a cash advance like Citi or a regular POS transaction? Thanks for your time.

    • Jesson: Thanks! I’ll have to try PHONEGIFT3 again

      Matt: No, I don’t think they’ll accept an Amex GC for payment. To get the pic to show up, try pressing control-F5.

      gottoloveInk: yes, Chase treats these as regular purchases. Beware of Citibank which has been reported to treat these as cash advances.

  4. Let’s put something into perspective: on a $1000 AMEX card purchase, the difference in payback between TCB and BC is….drumroll…one dollar!

    Based on the well-documented aggravation that TCB has caused so many people (including my own), I would never recommend this option to any reader. I think you are doing a disservice to your readers by making it look like things are hunky-dory with TCB (you seem excited that your payback is “confirmed”…I remember that day too, but it was many weeks and emails before the actual pay date….)

  5. Hey FM, did your wife’s points ever post for the $3K Amex Gift Card she bought with her Amex Platinum? I know it counted for her spend requirement, but I am curious if she received points on the actual purchase.

  6. I would recommend Bigcrumbs over Topcashback if the difference is not big. FM – Might want to put a disclaimer, some people have reported getting a financial review from buying AMEX GC’s when buying several…

  7. Nice tip on using the “customize” function to add your own name to the card.

    Just for a favorite cashier that’s always skittish, I might try putting this there instead:
    “Yes, you moron, it’s really me – now work the damn cash register so I can get outta here, OK?”

    • Chuck Berry: LOL
      Sergey: Thanks for explaining the details of which code works when! Also, thanks for the ShopAtHome tip! As to the $5K per month limit, all I can say is that I’ve had purchases denied when I tried to buy more than $5K in a month from the personal site.

  8. I don’t see when you can add a message to the gift card IF you come from TopCashBack. I see this option “add a message” when you shop directly on

  9. I found it according to FM arrows. I noticed the following – if you go from TCB to Amex gift card site and choose “Classic card” with preset amount ($2000 or $3000), then (a) “PHONEGIFT3” code does not work and (b) you cannot customize the card. However, if instead of choosing “Classic card” you go on the bottom of the page and choose “Gift cards” (like FM shows), you can customize your GC by setting any amount (like $2350, if you want), and (a) you can add any message and (b) coupon “PHONEGIFT3” works. I’m wondering if the latter method will result in any cashback.

    Also, I have a question – I read about limit of $5K for purchases personal AMEX GCs per month, but I don’t see it in the T&C. I can only see that max order amount is $5K.

    Another tip: ShopAtHome offers only 1% CB on AMEX GC’s purchases, but they have 110% guarantee. So, if you provide them a link for 1.5% CB from TCB, they will match it and provide 110% instead.

  10. I just got an email promotion for AMEX gc to waive purchase fee. Code is EMTHANK1, expirse 4/30. Is there any final word that using any of these codes won’t compromise the BigCrumbs cash back?

    • Dave: Thanks for the promo code. Many people have received cash back in the past when using promo codes. There’s never any guarantee that it will always work though.
      CHRIS: Correct. See Sergey’s comment for details of which code to use when.
      Jamie: Thanks for the clarification. yes, you’re right, I shouldn’t have called them prepaid gift cards. They’re just prepaid cards.
      Kris: You can’t add funds to amazon payments with a credit card, but you can pay someone else with a credit card. Click on “Send Money”…

  11. It looks like you can get cash back for ordering free American Express prepaid gift cards

    Just a lil FYI to avoid confusion. There are AMEX prepaid cards and AMEX gift cards. They are two different things. Prepaid cards are reloadable and require a SSN. They function like the debit cards you get from a bank’s checking account. Gift cards are not reloadable and don’t require a SSN.

    I’m sure you already know this, but I’m pointing it out anyway for anyone who might stumble upon that statement and get confused.

  12. @FM: I am trying to add AMEX funds to AmazonPayments using add funds button but it only lets me choose from my checking account. Can you please explain how you do this and can these giftcard funds you add be withdrawn to your linked bank account account?

  13. Thanks FM. I used my amex gift card to send to my friend. My place does not have target Amex. Can i buy Target AMEX when I travel to CA and withdraw funds from an ATM in my town? My place neither does have CVS where I can buy vanilla reload cards. Any other suggestions would be of great help to me.

  14. Kris: Yes, you can load up the Target Amex in CA and use it locally. That would be a bit of a hassle though! Alternatives: Kiva loans (if you can wait a long time for the money to come back), Amazon payments (as you already found).

  15. I give up on TopCashBack. It is a faceless organization I cannot trust. I bought $5000 Amex gift card but only got pending credit for $2000. Customer service is unresponsive.

  16. Topcashback is a scam. Period. They pay small amount ($1~5) easily, but if you are expecting anything like $60 from $4000 Amex gift card purchase, just forget about it.

    • MrWho: Yes, thanks for the clarification
      marathon man: I don’t know why Gary doesn’t want you to speak there. do you know the answer to what is “too many”? I’d love to hear it!

  17. regarding the FR part… what is “TOO MANY” GIFT CARDS?
    (See this is exactly the thing I told Gary I wanted to speak about at the April Do but he does not want me to speak for reasons unknown)

  18. Ill give the answer to that question and others concerning limits and methods on how companies determine them in great detail IF you and others help petition Gary to give me a legitimate slated spot to speak at the DO! Otherwise people will have to figure it out on their ownsome

  19. It looks like the customized gift card is only for business card, not for the personal. Does anyone how how to get personal customized AE gift card?

  20. Is there anything worse than Amex gift card customer service? They deny my transactions consistently then tell me I exceeded my 14 day purchase limit even though I haven’t purchased anything. I wait 14+ days and attempt another transaction yet it is still denied. Wait on hold and argue with f*cking [censored] for an hour a day and nothing gets resolved. Not worth the hassle. F*ck Amex gift cards.

  21. The AmEx gift card site keeps declining the orders I place with my Chase British Airways card. Chase says that everything is OK at their end. However if I place an order using an American Express credit card then that goes through. Anyone else had a similar experience? Any advice?

  22. No more topcash: American Express Prepaid and Gift Cards Unfortunately American Express prepaid and giftcards can no longer offer cashback we hope to have them back live very soon….

    • Bayguy,
      I can confirm that I receive BC with the code that take off portion of shipping cost.

      However, if you like to personalize the card, it doesnt that that code (AFLQ12013), but the other code it accepted but i am not sure if it will give BC or not…
      anyone can confirm the personalize card bonus?

  23. FM,
    do you know what code to use for the personalize card?
    and when i try to check out personalize card, even though i click on Personal link from BC, it seems that Amex will take it to business side…
    or, am I doing something wrong?

      • FM,
        the EMSVCA code is working for personizing the card, but I am not sure about BC…

        yeah…at the check out..i am required to enter business name which wasnt a requirement when i bought non-personalized gift card under personal link…If i remember correctly…

  24. Amol, FM – I got cashback from BigCrumbs on the purchase of customized gift cards. I used coupon code ADMIN2013 for $5.95 off.

  25. Quick question – has anyone purchased Amex gift cards (through the website) with a US Bank Card (Club Carlson, etc.)?… if so, does it post as a purchase or cash advance?

  26. i have several am ex cards. will i raise a red flag if i use different am ex cards to purchase gift cards. i was thinking of around 3 (1000) cards for each purchase and also using several other non amex cards.
    can you answer asap as i know today is the only day for the 2.5%cashback


  27. I have never bought one of these but I would like to ask if the three of them show as AMEX GC in the statement or is there a way to make it look like item, grocery electronic or something other thatn GC

  28. I tried to use a 3k amex gc on gc mall, but they couldn’t validate my personal information. How do you manage to pass de personal information matching check?

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