Amex gift cards update

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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.

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Comments

  1. Is there any credit cards not to use for this? I don’t want to get hit with a cash advance or any other type of fee.

  2. @Preacher,

    how do you get the trial? I logged into my amex account and went to giftcards, dont see any link/info on free trial.

  3. Do these AMEX Gift cards come with PIN now that the new law went into affect this month? Otherwise might be hard to spend down on this card without cashback from stores. Other thoughts on how to quickly spend on this card other than normal store purchases?

    I too didn’t see free shipping trial in my account when I had some gift cards in my cart.

  4. @ Pearl – no, the ruling from the federal reserve only applies to VISA and MC because they operate on signature and PIN based transaction networks
    not AMEX because it only operates on a signature based network

  5. Don’t use Citibank cards to buy Amex cards online. They’ll treat it as a cash advance.

    Amex gift cards do not have PINs but you can use the Amex cards to buy Visa gift cards with PINs

  6. My experience with Bigcrumbs has been problem free. Just a delay (clearly explained)in getting money. Two uses of Topcashback have had issues. Both times I had to fax invoices of purchases made via them in order to get the rebates. (maybe if I didnt keep track of them I would have forgotten the purchases and topcash would have forgotten to pay me………)

  7. @Steve, I’ve personalized my GC, and was credit on bigcrumbs just fine.
    What’s more, since I can customize the amount as well, I went with sets of 2015.80, so I can just use to purchase two set and throw away.

  8. When you click on the gift card link and actually get to the card ordering phase, just choose next day delivery. It should show up as a zero charge on your order, as long as you’re signed in to your Amex online account, and you have at least 1 active Amex CC on that online account. If you want confirmation before you place your order, call Amex to confirm the free trial, but the Ts and Cs of the Express Delivery mention the 90 day free trial, as does the thread on Flyertalk. SCR confirmed with the the free trial when I called after I ordered.

    • rob: You have to choose one code or another. They don’t stack.
      jkl: I think that Amex wants their system to behave that way, but in practice gift card purchases do count towards min spend requirements. Of course, they could fix that any time.

  9. was told by amex cs purchases of amex gift cards DO NOT count twoards required spending on amex business card.
    anyone else run into this?

  10. @FM

    where can i get visa or Mastercard gift cards using Amex giftcards or better still how do i get cash from my amex gift card

    TIA

  11. Is it ok to log in Amex and buy gift card for myself (putting my name on the Card)?

    Can I create a AMEX GC acct that is not associated with my regular Amex acct to buy GC? Thanks!

  12. Is there any reason not to just buy the visa gift cards directly, without adding this intermediate AmEx giftcard step?

  13. Jen: yes, you can buy gift cards for yourself. I don’t think you need to create a separate Amex GC account.

    Chris M: The Amex GC step is just a way to defray costs associated with buying and liquidating gift cards. You can certainly buy the Visa gcs directly. Even that is a pretty good deal!

  14. HOw to buy Visa gift cards from GiftCardMall.com and pay with Amex gift cards???

    I registered my Amex gift cards by calling their customer services to provide my name, address, phone number.

    I then tried to use it to buy $1000 visa gift card on GiftcardMall.com but it doesn’t work. The Amex giftcard I have is a 1000 only but the visa giftcard cost more than 1000 because of the extras: visa card fee+shipping..Is there any trick that I dont’ know here?? Has anyone tried to do the same thing before? Please share@

  15. @FM Thanks!

    I tried 992 and the order went through. Cool! I guess I have to buy one GF at a time with my $1000 Amex gift cards then. I wish if I could buy more than one visa gift cards at the same time to save time and shipping charges.

  16. @Dave, I’ve been having a hell of a time getting AMEX to accept a GC purchase on a Club Carlson card. US Bank blocks the purchase every stinkin’ time I try, then I call and have them stop blocking it and the order goes through but is cancelled within a day because AMEX “can’t verify my information.”

    Anyone else have a similar experience?

  17. FM: Thanks, that’s what I thought. I’m not sure it’s worth the 1.5% to me, for the additional risk and effort. Probably worth it, except for buying these gc’s with an AmEx card, which mayyy be an FR trigger.

  18. I just bought 4 $500 Amex gift cards and I called to have a pin added and they said they don’t have pins anymore… I was going to load the money to my Amex bluebird card. Is there any other way to get the money off of these Amex’s without a pin?
    Thanks!

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