How to buy $500 Visa gift cards online with Amex gift cards [No longer works]

Update 8/5/2015: Unfortunately, GiftCardMall no longer accepts Amex gift cards for payment

I have written quite a bit lately about buying Amex gift cards for points or for cash back.  For a nearly complete guide, please see the recently updated post “Everything you ever wanted to know about Amex gift cards.”

AmexToVisa

The problem with Amex gift cards is that they’re not as convenient as MasterCard and Visa gift cards.  Amex gift cards don’t have PINs and so cannot be used to reload Bluebird or other cards at Walmart, nor can they be used to buy money orders, get cash back at the register, or pay bills online or in-store.  As a result, people often look for ways to buy Visa or MasterCard gift cards with their Amex gift cards.  I’m often asked if it is possible to buy them online.  The answer is yes.  Here’s how:

1. Register your name and address to your Amex gift card

Once you have your Amex gift card in-hand, call Amex (1-800-297-7327), follow the prompts to speak to a representative, and then tell them that you would like to register your name and address to your Amex gift card.

2. Shop through a portal

GiftCardMall no longer accepts Amex Gift Cards for payment.

When you buy Visa gift cards online, card fees and shipping costs can add up.  To reduce your out of pocket costs, it’s a good idea to go through a cash back portal.  To find good options, go to CashBackMonitor and search for GiftCardMall.  This will show you the best options for regular gift cards, but you will have to check out each portal individually to see their policies regarding Visa gift cards purchased at GiftCardMall.  Some portals claim that no cash back will be given for Visa gift card purchases (However: I have often received cash back anyway, but at a lower rate).  Others show different (lower) cash back rates for Visa gift cards than for most other cards.  For example, Simply Best Coupons currently advertises 1.5% cash back at GiftCardMall, but if you click to see the Terms and restrictions you see that they offer half that for Visa Gift Cards:

SimplyBestCoupons_GiftCardMall

Once you find the best portal, click through to GiftCardMall.

3. Try to match Amex gift card value without going over

GiftCardMall won’t let you use multiple credit cards on one order, so you will need to make sure that the balance on your Amex gift card is larger than your complete order.  Fortunately, unlike some other merchants, GiftCardMall does not put a $1 hold on your card prior to the order, so it is possible to use up very close to the entire Amex gift card balance.

Here’s an example of what I did recently:

With a $3,000 Amex gift card, I bought:

  • 5 $500 Visa gift cards
  • 1 $457 Visa gift card

Each Visa gift card has a $3.95 purchase fee, plus additional shipping fees.  I chose the USPS critical mail option (to add tracking to the order) for $18.84.  My total purchase came to $2,999.54.

Calculate your cost

In the example above, I used a $3000 Amex gift card to buy $2957 worth of Visa gift cards.  My Amex gift card still has 46 cents on it, but let’s calculate costs as if the card is now empty:

  • I “lost” $43 from this transaction ($3000 – $2957 = $43)
  • Using the Simply Best Coupons cash back portal for .75% cash back, I now have $22.18 cash back pending.
  • Total cost: $20.82 ($43 – $22.18)
  • Percent loss: .7%

Since it is usually possible to earn 2% or more when buying Amex gift cards, a loss of less than 1% when buying Visa gift cards is not bad at all.

Advanced option

Here’s a way buy only full value $500 Visa gift cards.  Note that this is more work for relatively little gain, so think twice about whether it is worth it to you.  Also note that while I believe this will work, I haven’t done all of the steps recently:

1. Figure out the total fees and shipping costs for buying Visa cards matching the exact value of your Amex gift card.

For example, if you have a $3000 Amex gift card, add six $500 Visa cards to your cart and go through the beginning of the checkout process to see the total fees and shipping costs.  By choosing USPS Critical Mail, for example, my total for $3000 worth of Visa gift cards came to $42.54 ($18.84 for shipping and $23.70 for card fees).

GiftCardMall_DeliveryMethod

2. Buy a Choice e-gift card to cover the fees

In the example above, I would buy a single $43 Choice e-gift card.  First go through an online portal, of course, but you may want to use a different portal than the best one for buying Visa gift cards.  Different portals have different rules about whether they pay out for Choice e-gift cards.  Make sure to pay for the Choice card with a regular credit card, not your Amex gift card.

3. Buy Visa gift cards

It may take a day or two to get your Choice e-gift card.  Once you have it, go through a portal again to buy the Visa gift cards.  Make sure to apply the Choice gift card to your order so that the total charged to your Amex gift card is just under its full balance.

Calculate your cost

In the example above, One would spend $3043 to buy $3,000 worth of Visa gift cards.  If we again ignore any balance left on the Amex gift card, we can calculate costs as follows:

  • Loss: $43 (from regular credit card)
  • Assume 1% cash back for purchase of Choice e-gift card = 43 cents back
  • Assume .75% cash back for $3000 order = $22.50
  • Total cost: $20.07 ($43 – $22.50 – $0.43)
  • Percent loss: .7%

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 tried your method once and forgot step 1 of calling Amex to register card so my order was rejected, I have been buying Amex cards then exchanging them at CVS for Visa gift cards, cost after getting rebate on Amex card is almost $0.00 depending on % cash back at portals, the current promotion of free processing at Amex works well

  2. I placed an order through top cash back and did not get any credit for the amex order. I did use the promo code for the card fees.

  3. I have never heard of a Choice egift card. You just say “buy a Choice egift card”. WTF is that?

    Also, you don’t need to register the AMEX GC. I never do, and I always use them @ GCM.com without issue.

    • Choice cards are gift cards to GiftCardMall itself.
      You’re lucky that you don’t have to register your Amex gc. For many people, GiftCardMall orders are canceled when the info (name and address) on the order doesn’t match exactly the info on the card used for payment.

      • FM, I ordered the Staples GC using my Ink but sent to my GF’s addr. However I see the Ink transaction cancelled (though Staples has not contacted me in any way about the cancellation and their website’s tracking link has not been working). Do you think that’s because they order from GCM as well and they rejected the txn? Thanks.

    • From my experience, you will first have to activate the Visa gift cards through Gift Card Mall’s (GCM’s) website with the activation code they snail mail you (you’ll be mailed one activation code for each card and then another letter with activation codes for all cards ordered, quickly making a bulk of junk mail), THEN you need to go to a separate website (GoWallet) to add your activated cards and create a PIN. I believe you can also call GCM to do everything at once, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too painful to do online. Hope this helps!

    • Yes, as Gabriel said, you have to activate each card, then you can setup the PIN. Or, I believe that after activation you can simply use the last 4 digits of the card as the PIN.

  4. Is there any reason not to just use a credit card to purchase $500 Visa gift cards at giftcardmall? It seems like this would be an easy way to meet minimum spend (and by using a portal to effectively reduce shipping charges, it would be nearly as inexpensive as buying gift cards at a CVS or Krogers).

  5. Frequent Miler,
    Is there a limit to how many visa gift cards you can purchase in a single order through gift card mall? I’ve been purchasing these in batches of 4 as Rachel above suggested to meet minimum spends primarily. Was wondering how much I can step this up.

  6. I just pay the 1% upfront at the local store and then I don’t have to wait for the shipments and wait for the cashback to post. To me it’s not worth the 0.3% savings to jump through the hoops.

    • That’s what I do most of the time too. Some stores / cashiers won’t allow payment by Amex gift card though (even with the personalized Amex gift cards), so this is a good alternative.

  7. What do you think is the better deal, buying amex gift cards with the arrival card through the barclays portal, and converting those to visa GC? Or, buying visa GC directly from staples with ink bold + portal?

    • If you don’t mind the smaller denomination cards, I think the Staples route is better.

      With Barclays route, $1000 in gift cards becomes 6000 Arrival points worth $66 towards travel.

      With Staples, $1000 in gift cards becomes: 5175 Ultimate Rewards points worth at least $62.50 towards travel, plus a profit of about 2.5% = $25 in cash back.

  8. As usual, love your posts. Today the cash back site Luckyrewards has 4% back on Amex gift card purchases. I have never heard of this site and can’t seem to find anything. This increase in cashback would certainly help cover costs of buying the visas at GCM. Is anyone (frequentMiler) familiar with this site?

  9. Kirk Washington asked my question and you gave the perfect answer I expected……..your VISA GC method using Ink card is the ultimate ticket and using those $200 GCs on your computer for manfactured spend is fairly painless……..5X and profitable……what is not to like? But it is good to ask the AMEX question as we all would have gotten there sooner or “later”…..Great post…….

  10. Amex GC, can be used to purchase VISA GC at Simon Malls,

    Yes they sold me Amex GC, so
    I went back and bought the pinnacle VISA GC,
    Problem solved,

  11. Great post! Quick question – I believe I could click through from the Barclay Arrival portal to buy the $3K AMEX GC – but use a different card to purchase (i.e. to meet min spend on another card) – and still earn the 4x Arrival miles, or $120 in travel credits.

    Can you confirm this is possible? I read through all the Ts&Cs and didn’t see anything that would indicate this won’t work.

  12. Giftcardmall.com cancelled my order for some reason when I tried to use the Amex GC after I did register it on phone. Any idea what could have happened? There is no way to see how my details were registered on Amex GC, is there?

    • I don’t know why, but it can’t hurt to call and ask. I’ve found the giftcardmall support people to be more helpful than Amex gc support regarding cancelled orders.

  13. I would like to share an update that my Barclays Rewardboost points for Amex GC purchase have finally posted. Just received the notification. Only when I looked at the purchase date (April 4th) I realized what a wait it has been!

  14. I ordered six $500 VGCs via Simply Best Coupons to get the 0.75% cash back at GiftCardMall, just like your example. I will post the outcome.

    Next time I will go thru Ebates to get a true 1.0% cash back, without Simply Best Coupons’ unadvertised reduction hidden inside the T&C.

    • Let us know how Ebates goes. Note that their special conditions for GiftCardMall seem to say that no credit will be given for Visa gift cards:

      Exclusions: Cash Back is not available on gift cards for Hess Gasoline, Gulf, Safeway, BP, or Best Buy; or on Visa gift card, Visa purchase Fee, Customization Fee, Shipping Cost, or Tax.

  15. I see comments to purchase 3K gift cards from Amex. however, every time I go in through a partner, such as Delta or Barclay reward boost, I am limited to $500 max/card. Am I missing something? How do I purchase 3K cards to reduce my fees.

    Thx

    • From one of Greg’s earlier posts: “log into your American Express account from the gift cards page, and you’ll then see options up to $3000 in value. If you don’t want to log in, another approach is to simply click “Select a Card Design” under either the Business Gift Cards or Consumer Gift Cards menu.”

      • I do see 3,000 if I log in to Amex directly as you’ve suggested. However, the affiliate number in the html address will not be there. When going through Barclaycard boost, the max appears to be 500, even if I’m logged in. I want to go through Barclay as I get 4pts/$ in addition to my 2pts/$ when using their link.

        • Don’t go directly to Amex. Go through a portal to the Amex gift card site and then look for the log-in option. Once you log in you’ll see the bigger card options. You won’t lose portal tracking.

    • 3k is only available if you click you buying business gift cards……..5k for personal is the max card……

  16. AMEX’s SERVE card accepted the first prepaid gift card ($500), but rejected every attempt after that. (I tried registering various prepaids – and tried registering prepaids as a Charge card instead of a Debit card, and that got rejected also.) Account got flagged — I called and visited and all is well — but it’s a no go on using prepaid gift cards with SERVE . Bummer! The AMEX/SERVE rep said they do accept Green Dot prepaids . . . more studying.

  17. Tried to liquidate 3 x $3K worth of AGC via three separate orders via GCM. All orders were denied/cancelled. First call with the rep said maybe it was my credit card info entered incorrectly. Second cal to another rep asked if I was using a AGC to make the purchase. Reluctantly, I said yes and was told I could do that.

  18. No go for me. Ordered two $490 Visa GCs from GCM using $500 AGCs over the holiday weekend. Two separate orders, two denials. Phoned GCM CS and was told “manager-denied order”. CS told me she is never given a reason why. Bummer my AGC is now tied up for 3 to 5 biz days awaiting the cancelled transaction.

  19. Hi. I want to exchange my $25 Amex prepaid card for a $25 Visa gift/prepaid card. Someone mentioned that they were able to do this at cvs. Is this still possible? If not, what are my alternatives, if any?

  20. Went to register by $3K AMEX *BUSINESS* GC today. The AMEX rep told me this card cold NOT be registered until I have at least one POS swipe on it first; ever encounter this? Does this *swipe before registration* requirement apply to consumer GC’s as well?

    Also GCMall web site malfunctioning with both latest IE and FF browsers; not showing shipping costs BEFORE order placed. I informed them of the issue.

    • Yes, this has happened to me and to others. No, the Amex rep is wrong. It does not need to be swiped before it can be used. You received a card that wasn’t properly activated. Keep calling until you get someone who can fix it.

  21. I have bought Visa Gift Cards at Giftcardmall.com using Amex Gift Cards as payment a few times and not had good experiences with this company.

    Can anyone tell me please what OTHER online sellers of giftcards (not including Giftcardmall.com) accept AmEx Gift Cards as payment to buy Visa Gift Cards?

    Thanks!

  22. Got this message when I tried to use my AEGC to buy Visa GC, \(Sorry, we do not accept the form of payment you entered. Please try another card. If you would like to place a bulk order, please contact GiftCardMall sales at 1-866-568-2747 or visit https://www.giftcardmall.com/business.aspx)\

    My AEGC is activated and it’s registered
    This message appears right above where you put the credit card # in and it happens the second I put the last digit into the field. It doesn’t even attempt to run the card. It must know the # reflects a gift card.

    Anyone else with the same problem. Any solution. Should I call?

  23. FYI

    Gift card mall rep said effective immediately they are no longer accepting any kind of gift card to buy a gift card which is why I could not use my AEGC to buy Visa. They said the memo came out today. It was my first time trying. My luck. Now stuck with the card.

  24. That’s strange. Their website says:
    Q: What forms of payment can I use on the GiftCardMall.com website?
    A: We currently accept Visa, Visa Gift, MasterCard, and American Express cards. Debit cards that do not require a PIN number are also an acceptable form of payment.

  25. Does this still work? Can I still buy VGC on Gift Card Mall, or even any other Gift Card site with AMEX GC? Does anyone have any recent experience with this?

  26. Do you know if this same concept works at GiftCards.com? I have $2000 worth of AMEX GC’s that I would like to convert to V or M PIN-enabled GC’s

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