Top 8 ways to spend down Amex gift cards

Ever since TopCashBack raised their payout for Amex gift cards to 2% (see “Should I report this deal?“), people have been emailing and tweeting to ask “what now?”  What can I do with these gift cards?

Some readers had hoped to use the Amex gift cards to load their Bluebird cards at Walmart (see “Gift card PINs“).  They didn’t realize that the ability to use gift cards as debit cards is limited to Visa and MasterCard gift cards.  Others had hoped to use Google Wallet to make payments to friends, but then Google Wallet started charging for credit card transactions (see “Google Wallet loses its luster“).

Here, then, are my top recommendations for how to spend down your American Express gift cards:

  1. Use for everyday purchases.  Avoid spending these in places where you can earn a category bonus with your credit card.  See “How to finish off gift cards” for tips on dealing with gift cards for everyday use.
  2. Buy reload cards.  See “The reload game is on“.
  3. Buy Visa or MasterCard gift cards and use those to load your Bluebird card at Walmart. See “Best options for buying $500 Visa gift cards“).
  4. Send money via Amazon Payments (see “Turn bank gift cards into cash“).
  5. Make loans (see “How to maximize points and virtue through Kiva loans“)
  6. Pay taxes.  You will incur a fee, but it may be worth it.  See “Pay federal taxes by credit card, almost for free“.
  7. Load and unload the Target Amex card.  See “Using the Target Amex card to run up spend.”
  8. Send money to friends with Google Wallet.  Yes there is now a 2.9% fee (after your first $250), but it may be worth it if you’re eager to use up your Amex card.  See “Google challenges PayPal, Amazon Payments, and others with innovative new version of Google Wallet

Did I miss any good options?

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. I find the Target Amex as a great way to turn gift cards into VR cards. It costs about $11 more ($3 reload + $3.95 VR + $3.95) thank going directly to Walmart, but I despise the Walmart near me and refuse to go there.
    .
    I had good success with Kiva when I first started, but now it is a hassle to withdraw money to my Paypal account. Takes them 2 weeks to send me $20. So frustrating.

  2. I would place SquareUp/Square above using GW, because at least Square only charges 2.75% for a transaction

  3. @Michelle, I use the Target Amex to load my gift cards (ink bold purchases) and my Citi HH Reserve card. Citi isn’t able to tell that I buy VR cards at CVS. You could actually load the whole card with 1 credit card, but I like to get UR points every month.

  4. Utilize all mighty WM…look in FT for a clue. Yes, there would be a fee for AMEX -> ??? conversion, but less than that of AMEX for T. Also, depends on WM if this route works or not.

  5. I like using them to buy VRs so that credit card issuers do not see 5k/ mo spend for drugs and wonder how sick my family is. 🙂

  6. @Grant – do you use the Target Amex to just by Vanilla Reload cards at Target? I haven’t checked to see if my Target has them but they are much closer than any Walmart. You mention $11 more – but is that per $1000 or some other amount?

  7. @Hao, no, Target doesn’t sell VR Cards. I load up my Target Amex then go to CVS to purchase 2 VR Cards. Get a $500 card and a $492 card. Your total will come to $999.90 (500 + 492 +3.95 +3.95). The $11 I mention is $3 Target reload fee plus $3.95 + $3.95.

  8. Hey Grant:
    I’m a little late to this game, but couldn’t you simply use the Amex gift cards to buy VR instead of loading the Target Amex (as Greek2me mentioned in Post #6)? What’s the advantage of loading to Target Amex?

  9. I tried to buy visa gift cards with ax gift card at gift card mall and says not approved. I did this in the past. Did something change that I’m not aware of?
    Thanks

  10. Gabe: Yes, if your local store allows you to pay with an Amex gift card then buying VR is probably a better option.
    .
    david: I don’t know, it’s been a while since I tried this. Have you registered your name and address to the Amex gift card?

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