How to use Amex gift cards to buy GiftCardMall gift cards and earn a profit

In my recent post “Better than free manufactured spend” I showed that it is possible to make a slight profit when buying Visa gift cards at GiftCardMall.com by first going through the cash back portal, TopCashBack.  I suggested, too, that you could earn even more money by first buying American Express gift cards to get cash back and then using those American Express gift cards to buy Visa gift cards.  Here’s how…

1. Go through a cash back portal to buy American Express gift cards.

TopCashBack and BigCrumbs currently offer the best cash back rates (1.5% and 1.4%, respectively).  Via either portal, search for “American Express Gift Cards” and click through to the Amex gift card store.  When going through a cash back portal, American Express has recently added a top limit of $500 per card that can be purchased, but you can get around this limit by buying a personalized card (for details, see “Amex takes away $3K cash back gift cards“).

2. Register your American Express cards

Once you receive your American Express card(s), call 1-877-297-4438 to register each card with your full name and address.  You will need to talk to a person to do so (press 0, I believe).

3. Go through TopCashBack to GiftCardMall to buy Visa gift cards

You can buy Visa gift cards with values of up to $1000.  You will be charged $3.95 for each card, plus shipping charges.  Since you can’t easily split the payment across multiple credit cards, I’d recommend picking a value less than $1000 to cover fees and shipping.

For example, let’s say you have a $1000 American Express gift card.  You can’t easily use it to buy a $1000 Visa card because the total charge will be $1003.95 plus shipping.  If you choose the cheapest shipping option, the total will come to $1006.94. You won’t be able to use your $1000 Amex gift card for that purchase.  To make things work, you can instead buy a $993 Visa gift card so that the total will come to $999.94.  Trackable shipping is $2 more, so you could order a $991 Visa gift card to stay on the safe side.

Shipping charges go down slightly as you add more cards to your order so it may be necessary to test different combinations to find the optimal Visa card value for your needs.

When you check-out to pay, make sure to use the exact same name and address that you registered to your American Express gift card in step 2.

Also, do not try to place this order from a foreign country or when browsing via a VPN service.  I recently had my order stopped when going through a VPN.  I called GiftCardMall and found out (after they investigated) that the order was blocked due to a foreign IP address (even though I had chosen a Washington DC gateway).

Alternate Plan

Instead of buying sub $1000 Visa gift cards, another option is to buy GiftCardMall Choice Cards to cover fees and shipping.  For example, buy a $10 Choice card and then use it along with a $1000 Amex card to pay for a $1000 Visa card.  This approach takes planning, though.  I tested it successfully, but it took two days for my Choice e-gift card to arrive.

Cash Back Portal Tips

Things can go wrong when going through online shopping portals. The main risk is that your click-through may not be tracked properly.  To increase your chances of success, please see “How to ensure your portal points“.  Also note that if you place more than one order (e.g. you check out and pay more than once), then you should go through the portal each time first. 

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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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Comments

  1. Great post. Thanks!

    Noticed a typo 😉

    “easily use it to buy a $1000 Visa card because the total charge will be $103.95 ”

    Should be 1003.95 isn’t it ? 😀

  2. Waiting on watching Amex not allowing this purchases go through. I might just dabble on this might not max out as amex will def have their cardinals on this.

  3. i have US airways master card. I got an promotional offer of 2miles per dollar up to 8k miles. Will I get miles for buying visa or amex cards online?

  4. Staples Ad 4/28-5/4
    Save $15 when you buy $150 or more in Mastercard gift cards after easy rebate. See details as to limits.

  5. Did anyone else have to fill out a special form at Giftcard mall before getting approved? I bought 4k and with AmEx GCs and had do fax over my personal info.

  6. I skipped #2 as well, and I tried to buy 2 x $1000 GCs at GCmall with my AMEX GC and I got a payment failure at the end. The warning even said that if I saw that message, I may not be able to buy another GC for 30 days. I called the number just now to activate, and there is no 0 option. I checked my balance online and looks like there is a pending charge for GCmall. I have no idea what’s going on but this wasn’t as smooth as I thought it’d be.

  7. @Vinh, I had the same trouble last night (didn’t know the Step #2 is needed). I just called GCM, the rep told that the pending charge usually takes 3-5 business days to be reversed [the purchase error message said 7-10 days].
    @FM, thanks much for the update and a new tip_”another option is to buy GiftCardMall Choice Cards to cover fees and shipping.”.
    “A joy that is shared is a joy made double.” – English Proverb

  8. Glad I read this, advising the AMEX registration, having the AMEX in hand and waiting for Monday April 29 for VISA.

    Why the reduced purchases rather than paying for the fees with a credit card? That doesn’t work?

  9. why not just go through giftcard mall twice instead of amex, then amex for visa? cant you get visa from giftcard mall, then use same visa to buy another card?

  10. @Chadb, I also received an email from GCM requiring me to fill out a form with personal info. Says its for “large orders”. I’ve returned but haven’t heard back yet

  11. My old password at GCM no longer works. Their “Request Temporary Password” button appears to work (“Your Password Has Been Sent. Please check your e-mail.”) but the email never arrives (not even in the Spam folder).

    Is anyone else having this same difficulty?

  12. Okay, is this just my (well documented) bad luck, or am I doing something very wrong? Despite calling AMEX and registering each gift card meticulously (e.g. “Yes, my first name is ‘Edwin.’ That’s Echo, Delta …” etc.) and then matching the information in my GiftCardMall order precisely, EVERY stinkin’ one gets cancelled in less than 24 hours. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

    • @Al, are you actually getting 1% back from FatWallet at GiftCardMall? The Ts&Cs say not valid on VISA gift cards and my trial months ago yielded cashback only on the $3.95 fee. (A whopping $.04)

  13. It is 5-4-0 to reach CS. Unbelievable that you have to call to do it and give them all information again even though they have everything in the order. I’m even less sure they have it correct now after all the back and forth with spelling. It will be a miracle if the GCM order tomorrow goes through with no issues.

  14. @ed: I am getting pending cashback of 0.75% on the full amount visa gift card purchases showing as pending within a day of purchase. for topcashback, I am not getting anything pending even after a week of waiting. IN your experience, will I lose the fatwallet cashback? In your experience how long should i wait for tcb to show the cashback as pending?

  15. interesting comment from Amex. I registered my cards and was told that there is a $1.00 internet service fee so if I want to spend 1K I actually can only spend 999.00. That sounded odd so thought I would pass it on.
    Also, do the registration at least one hour before you want to use the card as I was told it takes an hour to get everything in order.

  16. Getting ready for tomorrow, and a follow-on question to John’s –

    If the “Alternate Plan” is workable, can I pay for multiple Visa GC’s with multiple AMEX GC’s in one order? In other words, I’d like to buy 5 Visa GC’s at one time to save on total shipping, but I’d like to pay with 3 AMEX GC’s and 1 CC (to cover fees and s/h). Would GCM drain each AMEX GC serially? Anybody get something like this to work?

    • Joe: I’m not sure that I fully understand what you’re trying to do, but note these limits: GiftCardMall Choice Cards top out at $250 and you can only apply one to each order.

    • @Al: I don’t recall the timeline. I just remember (and still see in my history) the final payment. By ALL means if you DO get a full payout from FW, please speak up. Perhaps things have changed.

  17. I don’t know if it depends on what state you live in, but I was charged .18 tax on a 993 gift card, so some people may want to drop it down to 992

  18. FM – Thanks for replying. I would like to buy multiple Visa GC’s in one order to save shipping, but use more than one AMEX GC to pay vis-a-via split tender. Say a $4024 total bill (4 $1k Visa GC’s plus fees and shipping) – if I use one $1k AMEX GC in the payment line, will GCM put the new balance due at $3024. Repeat again for a new balance of $2024, etc. until paid in full? Lurker’s answer suggested no. Have you tried this by any chance? Thanks again for your insight.

    • Joe: I haven’t tried that but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work. I think GiftCardMall would try to authorize the whole amount against your Amex and it would be declined. Of course, if you try it please let us know how it goes.

  19. I suspect step 2 may be skipped if you have a pre-existing account with AMEX GC. This was my second personalized AMEX purchase this year (1st back in Feb). It went through without issue, and I didn’t need to register anything before spending it at GCM via TCB.
    Like another reader I too had forgotten my GCM password and despite resetting it didn’t get the password email so I created a new account with the same details. I think this may be triggered by them increasing the security of their passwords (uppercase, lowercase and numbers required).
    Bought 3 GCM cards. 2x$1k, 1$991 as I chose tracked shipping.
    I don’t have any ship notification from GCM but I do have TCB updates showing 2.5% ($75)pending for AMEX and 1.5% ($45) for GCM.
    .
    Note – to do all of this I a) used IE with all cookies flushed before I started b) Had preregistered accounts with TCB, AMEX GC and GCM.

  20. Again another caution on using the TopCashBack site. They only logged 1.5% for my AMex GC purchases although it was 2.5% promotion on Apr 22. I assume this was probably discussed already.

  21. I only see a max denomination of $500. Any tricks to allow for $1000? I did see $1000, but after adding 1 to my cart, I only see max $500 now.

  22. I am at Giftcardmall.com right now. I cannot find $1000visa giftcard. There are only $20 – $500. What I am missing? Where does everybody find $1000 or $993 card?

  23. I made a $3K purchase on giftcardmall.com on Monday with the cheapest shipping. How long dies it take to get this order?

  24. I Have 4 CC in chase and I already spent 2k in Gift card mall on my sapphire. Since this deals using TCB are either a moneymaker or at the worst you do not loose money, It’s not necessary to use it just to complete min spending. I can be using My Sapphire, My UA card, ny SW card and keep accumulating miles. How much money can I spend in GCM before Chase start giving me some sort of Hard Time?

  25. It seems like the TopCashBack Giftcardmall 1% back for Visa GCs is over. I didn’t see the link on the site, instead there is a generic message about deals and coupons. If this is the case the deal is no longer viable as the shipping and purchase fees will be more than the value in miles or points for most people.

  26. I know this is a little off-topic, but I suddenly can’t log in to Topcashback.com. Is anyone else having an issue with their account?

  27. Can anyone help me? I bought $3k of AMEX cards through the Topcashback promo on 4/22 and the transaction has STILL not appeared in my Topcashback account, one month later. I have lodged a missing cashback inquiry but have heard *nothing* from Topcashback. The status of my inquiry still says “waiting on Topcashback.” They owe me over $70 and it looks like they’re not doing anything. What do I do in this situation?

  28. Thanks. I just sent a message today but I will send an email after the holiday if still nothing. For what it’s worth, I (stupidly) just bought another $3k of AMEX cards through Topcashback yesterday and the TX still has not posted, so I think I’m in for the same runaround again. I won’t be using them again.

  29. Not sure if you check this, FM, but does this process still work? I did another round of AMEX through TCB recently but when I enter my info in at GCM it gives me an error every time – ‘Unable to complete transaction at this time…’ I called into AMEX to register the cards and they said they don’t need to be?

  30. If the $3000 AMEX gift card actually pays (topcashback says anything higher than $500 is not eligible for cash back) than you would make more money by just going to the store and getting the Visa Gift Cards. GCM charges $18.64 for shipping 6 cards ($3000 worth) on top of the $3.95 per card activation fee. You wouldn’t have to pay the shipping if you just go to your local gift card outlet and buy them with the AMEX.

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