Amex gift cards… beyond everything

In the post “Everything you ever wanted to know about Amex gift cards” I seem to have left out a few important details.  So, in this post, we will go beyond everything, once again in the form of questions and answers…

AmexGiftCard

Q: Why did my order get declined?

There are several reasons why Amex may decline your order:

  1. Your purchase exceeds your cash advance limit.  Some credit cards treat online Amex gift card purchases as cash advances.  In these situations, be glad that your order was declined. Cash advances do not result in credit card rewards, but they do result in unwanted fees.  Also, several readers have reported to me that some credit cards treat the purchase, initially, as a cash advance for the purpose of authorizing the charge, but then put through the actual charge as a purchase.  If your cash advance limit is too low in these situations your order will be declined.
  2. The name and address you input in the order (billing info) do not match your name and address on your credit card.  This information has to match perfectly for the order to go through.
  3. Random chance.  It is common to receive an email from Amex stating that they “could not verify your order information and cannot approve your order at this time.”  Sometimes this can be caused by #2, above, but other times it seems to be completely random.  I swear that I’ve entered in the same exact information with the same credit card for payment time and again, and sometimes it is approved and sometimes declined.  I’m sure its not truly random, but may be a function of who gets assigned to verify your order, or maybe the cycle of the moon at the time.

Q: Do I have to use a business credit card to buy business gift cards?

A: No.  Some people have been told by Amex reps that their orders were not approved because they didn’t use business credit cards to pay.  I don’t believe this.  I use personal Amex cards regularly to buy business gift cards.

Q: I read that Chase charges cash advance fees when buying Amex gift cards. How can I avoid those fees?

A: There was a brief period in 2013 when Chase charged cash advance fees for Amex gift cards, but that has been fixed. Please see this post for more: It’s once again safe to buy Amex gift cards with your Chase card.

Q: Is it safe to use a Citibank card to buy Amex gift cards online?

A: No!  In most cases the purchase will be treated as a cash advance.  I’ve read conflicting stories about this, but I tested it recently with my own Citi AA Executive card and did indeed receive a cash advance fee.  Its possible that Citi handles this differently with different cards, but my advice is to play it safe and stay away from the cards listed in the “not safe” section in my original Amex gift card post.

Q: When shopping on the Barclays RewardsBoost portal, do I get the advertised bonus points on top of the points earned by my credit card?

A: Yes.  For example, when the RewardsBoost portal offers 4 points per dollar for Amex gift cards, you will earn 4 points per dollar in addition to the points earned automatically by your credit card.  So, if you pay with the Arrival card that earns 2 points per dollar everywhere, you’ll earn a total of 6 points per dollar.

Q: Do I have to use the Barclays credit card to earn points when shopping through the RewardsBoost portal?

A: In my experience, no.  I have used Amex cards to pay when buying Amex gift cards and have still earned points from the portal.

Q: It has been three weeks since buying gift cards through the RewardsBoost portal, but I still do not see any rewards activity on my account.  Am I out of luck?

A: Hopefully not. It’s common for mile earning portals, including this one, to take a month or longer before showing any evidence of large purchases like these.  My advice: be patient.

Q: Isn’t it risky to have these cards shipped by mail?

A: Yes, there is always some risk that someone will steal your gift cards before you can get to them.  If that happens to you, I’d recommend that you call Amex immediately.  They should be able to help (I imagine this would take a lot of patience on your part, though!).

Q: Can I use these gift cards in-store to buy Visa/MasterCard debit gift cards?

A: Maybe.  Many cashiers have been trained to not allow this, but it is still possible at some stores and/or with some cashiers.  You may have to do some experimentation to find a place where this works.

Q: Can I use these gift cards to send money to others via Amazon Payments?

A: Yes.  When adding the gift card to your Amazon payment sources, you may want to initially put in the wrong expiration date.  This way there is no risk of Amazon putting a $1 hold on the card when verifying it.  You can change it back to the correct expiration date immediately afterwards.

Q: I’ve heard that there’s an option to sign up for free shipping for 90 days. How do I find that?

A: Make sure to log into your American Express account during the gift card check-out process.  When you get to the screen offering shipping options, you should see the offer.

See Also

NOTE: I will add the above Q&A to the original post soon (assuming I remember to)

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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  1. […] Frequent Miler has financial relationships with some of the cards mentioned here, and may be compensated if consumers choose to apply for these links in the content, and ultimately sign up for them. This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.In the post “Everything you ever wanted to know about Amex gift cards” I seem to have left out a few important details.  So, in this post, we will go beyond everything, once again in the form of questions and answers… Read full article […]

Comments

  1. I was onto this in a big way for a few months, and then suddenly started getting the “could not verify your order information and cannot approve your order at this time.” After repeated further tries, same message. Has anyone had this resurrect after getting this message? Like mentioned in this post, I’m positive I’m entering all the information the same way as when it originally worked like a charm. The customer service people cannot or will not provide any information to clarify the problem, nor can the people at Amex Platinum.

    • Same thing with me. Every single order gets denied now, no matter how its put in/what card/whatever. CS is beyond a joke, supervisors are equally worthless. Twitter has failed to provide anything helpful, and a mailed letter to the exec office hasn’t yielded a response. I’m guessing they have a shutdown procedure, but no way of letting folks know they are shutdown.

  2. Can you buy an Amex gift card with an Amex gift card? For convenience, it could be valuable to churn the same funds through a cash back portal a few times and then cash out once the rebate percentages drop again.

  3. I’ve had really bad luck buying AMEX gift cards. Don’t even bother calling AMEX customer service, they will give you vague answers to why the order was cancelled and won’t be able to tell you exactly why the order was cancelled. Most times they will say the automated computer system couldn’t verify the information.

  4. Interesting data point…In one of my orders I ordered the premium shipping plan for a year. The order was eventually cancelled for one of their vague reasons and I was never charged. However, the shipping plan still went on to my account! So I basically got it for free 🙂 Only time I was ever happy that they cancelled my order.

  5. I want to sign up for the shipping plan, but I don’t have an actual Amex card (planning to purchase the gift cards with my barclay card). Do I have to have an Amex card to create an account to log in to to sign up for this? I can’t figure out how to create one without an Amex card.

  6. Have had terrible luck with the barclays rewardsbosst portal. I am currently fighting with them over almost 50k points earned in the past 2-3 months. They take their own sweet time to open up a case. Even after they open one up, they will close it without informing you of the result. If you get back to them and ask what happened to the case, their standard response is:

    This issue was investigated and we found out that American Express Gift cards transaction on February XX, 2014 in the amount of $XXXX.XX is not on rewards boost transactions.

    Well, if things don’t track at their end, it’s not my problem. I have screenshots to confirm everything I did. I have always automatically received the portal points thru ALL other portals that I shop thru, so I know I am doing things right. Something is definitely wrong at Barclays end. FWIW, I don’t have the Arrival card but have the Travelocity card.

    • That stinks. Does the RewardsBoost portal offer the same point multiples when you log in with your Travelocity card? I find that if I go in with my US Air card, it doesn’t even show Amex gcs as an option.

  7. I’ve seen reported elsewhere that Amex requires multiple orders be at least 14 days apart. Any experience with this?

    • That might have to do with the purchase limits. In other words, purchase no more than $5K worth of personal cards every 2 weeks and no more than $75K worth of business cards. I’ve made multiple business card purchases per week many times.

  8. I chose the premium shipping plan free trial (90 days) and it just expired. Has anyone had luck being offered a second free trial? I don’t expect to see it immediately but am wondering if anyone perhaps saw it offered again after six months or a year.

    • Hmm, indeed at my 2nd Amex login (which I almost never use) I am indeed being offered the premium shipping plan again. Irony is that a few months ago, on the phone, I asked Amex to put all my cards under one login, they said they would do so, but it didn’t happen.

      Since the shipping name and address will be the same as before maybe I’ll get some pushback at the final step, but in any case, thanks for the suggestion.

  9. is there a way to track the click on barclay reward site? We can do that on TCB. Speaking of TCB, how long did it take you to get cash back? I know TCB is a hit or miss

  10. TCB has gotten much better lately. No tracking problems since the middle of last year, and recently the cash back for Amex GC purchases shows as pending within an hour or two. Once TCB posts as pending, I’ve always been paid. Typical wait for Amex GC purchases is about a month.

  11. I’ve read through you guys’ comments and regarding the declined orders of business GCs, here is my story:
    order 1: 3×3000 ordered with Gold Business, declined; afterwards, i tried
    order 2: 1×3000, same card, declined.
    called Gold Business CSR – they claimed they approved my orders;
    called AMEX GC CSR, was told in need of a corporate CC for business GC.

    although I don’t really believe that, I tried to place another order, and noticed a GC of lesser than $1000 will NOT ask for your company TAX ID. Not sure whether this would be the difference, but I did put down my SSN as TAX ID in my 9K and 3K orders. All billing info matched up perfectly, and I had my business card with AMEX so it shouldn’t be a card issue.

    I do have a question with anyone risking their chance with TCB on GC over $500. I have tried a couple of personal GC of $502, $505, like that. And so far, 3% is pending on all of them. Anyone had success with pay-out? I know the terms said no though

  12. I purchased two amex prepaids one on 4/11 through barclay boost, one using barclay and one with amex card.

    I still have yet to receive the boost points.
    I am starting to be concerned, any one received the 4% lately?

  13. I sign in to my Alaska airline acct then shop the AMEX GC by used my mom’s business CC to pd an AMEX business GC $3k
    (this is my 1st time, so I thought business GC will have to pay with business CC). I did received the $3k AMEX GC.
    Will I get the miles from Alaska air by using my mom’s CC to do the purchase?

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