April 12, 2013
Buying American Express gift cards online is the first step in one of the most lucrative ways to manufacture spend. The goal of manufacturing spend is to run up credit card charges (in order to meet min spend requirements, get points, achieve big spend bonuses, etc.) and to get your money back (or most of it, anyway).
When buying Amex gift cards online, it is possible to get cash back by going through a cash back portal. Once you have the Amex gift cards, you can get your money back by using them to buy and cash out debit gift cards (see “Gift card PINs“), or to load and unload Target Amex cards (see “Using the Target Amex card to run up spend“), or to buy free after rebate items.
Choose a portal
BigCrumbs has offered cash back for Amex gift cards for years and has been very reliable. Currently, they offer 1.4% cash back. TopCashBack offers a slightly higher rate of 1.5% cash back, but many readers have reported having problems with their customer service. Personally, TopCashBack has worked well for me, but since the difference in payout is so small, it makes sense to go with the portal you feel more comfortable with.
Regarding TopCashBack, I reported in February that my January Amex gift card purchases had reached “Confirmed” status. I now have a quick update: my January purchases are now “Payable”, which means that I can request payment through an ACH transfer to my bank or via PayPal. My cash back became payable almost exactly 3 months from the original purchase date. This is a typical delay for cash back portals in general.
Use coupon codes
Many readers have reported success in getting cash back even if they used coupon codes to reduce gift card fees. The HustlerMoneyBlog reports that the following codes are available:
No Fee Gift Card Waiver Codes:
- ADMINDAYVM- valid through 5/31/13
- ADMINGIFT6- valid through 5/31/13
- EMTHANK1- valid through 4/30/13
- EMTHANK2- valid through 4/30/13
Each of the above codes should eliminate the $3.95 purchase fee that is usually charged with each card ordered.
Free Shipping Waiver Codes:
- ADMIN2013 – valid through 5/1/2013
This code should reduce your shipping charges by $5.95.
Usually Amex will let you use either a fee waiver code or a free shipping code, but not both. Also, sometimes Amex does not allow certain codes to be used with cash back portals. Please report your experience in the comments below.
Update: Cash Advance Fees
If your credit card company treats gift card purchases as cash advances, then don’t do this! The only bank I’m sure of that does this is Citibank. With Chase and Amex you should be fine. I don’t have personal experience with other banks, though. If you’re unsure, you can protect yourself by calling your bank and asking them to reduce or eliminate your cash advance limit.
Related Posts and Links
- FatWallet sets a high bar for cash back portals
- Amex Gift Cards, this and that
- Using the Target Amex card to run up spend
- TopCashBack sign-up referral link (I’ll receive a very small one-time commission if you signup with this link)
- BigCrumbs sign-up referral link (I’ll receive a very small commission each time you receive cash back if you signup with this link)