Amex gift card SNAFU, Premium Shipping Plan cancellations, and some hope for what’s next

I’ve been spilling a lot of electronic ink writing about Amex gift cards in the past year or so.  Amex gift cards have been special because they’ve been available for purchase through online portals that offer cash back or points for purchases.  The basics are/were simple: go through a portal to buy Amex gift cards, earn a reward, and then use the gift cards as regular credit cards.  It has been a great way to increase rewards for the same amount of spend you would do anyway.  In the past few days, though, Amex gift cards have mostly disappeared from portals, there was a massive price mistake, readers have lost their free premium shipping plans, and I received a tip that suggests that Amex gift cards might just return to portals when they’re ready.  Read on… 

A portal price mistake

I reported a couple of days ago (here) that all portals had pulled Amex gift cards from their sites.  That wasn’t exactly true.  Some portals were slow to adjust.  And one goofed big time when they reported cash back at an astounding 40% rate.  Given that the largest rate we had seen previously was 4% in one portal and 4 points per dollar in another, this was clearly an error. Here were the portal rates yesterday morning as reported by CashBackMonitor:

Amex_giftcards_portal_rates_upto40pct

I had never heard of Hoopla Doopla, but I reported this strange rate in a Frequent Miler Quick Deal: “An obvious portal price mistake: 40% cash back for Amex gift cards. Who’s in?

My guess is that someone at Hoopla Doopla had tried to remove Amex gift cards from their database, but had messed up and linked them to a different merchant.  By the afternoon, Amex gift cards were no longer on their site.

The timing of this mistake was an interesting coincidence.  In the same post where I announced that Amex gift cards had abandoned portals, I also wrote about success in earning miles from a price mistake in the Singapore Airlines shopping portal.  For details, please see: “The door slams shut on Amex gift card cash back, 17K Singapore miles posted, office supply 5X, and AA back with FlexPerks.”

How will Hoopla Doopla respond?  I expect that those of us who purchased Amex gift cards will not automatically receive any payment from the portal.  We’ll have to wait about 10 days to be sure, though.  Their FAQ says the following:

Has it been more than 7-10 days since the purchase?
In most cases, you will see your cash back posted within 10 days of your purchase. Some purchases may take longer to post depending on the merchant. For instance, travel arrangements get credited when the stay is complete, not when booked. When the merchant credits us for the transaction, we credit you.

After 10 days, when we don’t see our order post, it will be necessary to fill out their Missing Transaction Form (found here).  Then, we’ll wait and see how they respond.  I bought a single $1K card mostly so that I can report on the results first hand.  I doubt they can afford to honor the full 40% but maybe they would be willing to offer us a high, but reasonable rate such as 4%.  We’ll see.

Free premium shipping plans

In June, I published a trick (no longer available, I believe) for getting the Amex gift card Premium Shipping Plan for free (instead of its usual $99).  See “The ultimate free shipping code.”  Since then, several readers have reported that they actually received only the 90 day free trial rather than the full year of free shipping.  If that happened to you, you might want to cancel the plan before they charge your credit card.  Here’s how:

1. Go to https://www.americanexpress.com/gift-cards/

2. Log in with your Amex credentials

3. Click “View Your Order History”

4. Scroll down to the “Shipping Addresses” box and look at the top right of the header bar.  You should see information about your Premium Shipping Plan.  In my case it says that my plan will end in 285 days:

Amex_giftcards_premiumshipping_status

5. Click “View”.  If your plan is a free trial, I believe you’ll see a link somewhere in this box that lets you cancel. 

Amex_giftcards_premiumshipping_status_details

If you want to cancel, but don’t have a cancel link, you can call:

1-877-297-4438

A hopeful hint

When Amex suddenly withdrew from portals, I reached out to my contact Natasha, who heads up TopCashBack in the United States.  It’s not much to go on, but her on-the-record reply was:

Amex has temporarily paused commission/cashback but we’re hopeful it’ll be available again in the near future.

What I gather from this is that Amex’s communication to portals such as TopCashBack was that they were temporarily pausing commissions.  There are many possible reasons why they would do so.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it is as simple as a technology upgrade that they want to get in place before continuing.  The important take away is that the door has not necessarily slammed shut forever.  Of course, I’ll let you know when they’re back. 

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 ordering $5000 in gift cards at 5:51am (EDT) yesterday. Initially the order went through but then I got an email saying the order was declined (“We could not verify your order information and cannot approve your order at this time.”). I took screen shots of the whole process for my records, but since the order got declined, I’m not going to pursue it. It doesn’t seem likely that, even if I got my $5000 gift card, I’d ever see the $2000 in cash back.

  2. So I got an “update” to my chase Sapphire…has the below verbiage been in all their cards??

    “You can begin earning and using points again in the next billing cycle after your account becomes current or when we no longer suspect fraud or misuse of the account or program.”

  3. Seriously, what is redeeming about trying to get a company to give you $400 for free. I’ve dropped money on the street by mistake… would you sneak up behind me and grab it and try to keep it if I didn’t notice? Check your morals, friend.

  4. I had a hosting package mistake cash back through Hoopla Doopla a couple of years ago. They did not come through (and likely have no premium brand to protect). So I would not keep my hopes up on this one 🙂

  5. Just cancelled 2 AMEX premium shipping plan trials……..vote with your feet…..send the message……….can’t believe another opportunity will not open up……….

  6. @Frequent Miler

    I use many of your brillant methods of buying giftcards aand getting discount on many things. I have the Ink card and was wondering how do I track how many pts I earned on a purchase? You have some methods of using your ink card to buy GC, but how do I really know if I am earning 5x? Please assist!

    Thank you in advance!

    • Unfortunately, it’s not at all easy. I’ve had to copy the data from my online statement into Excel and use the spreadsheet to calculate how many points I think I should get, then compare that to how many points I actually got.

  7. Thought this was a standard offer but don’t see it mentioned here.

    AMEX sent me an email informing me my trial offer was ending and that if I kept it I would get a $25 gift card.

    $74 for free shipping.

    Regular shipping $9?? Make 9 orders or more throughout the year and it might make sense to pay the annual fee.

  8. Any tips on where one can still get cash back (that’s in addition to the CC reward) on purchase of V, MC, or AmEx GCs? All of the places I’m familiar with have specific exclusions for these.

  9. It wasn’t a portal mistake. The T&C stated the offer was valid for media buys. This was reported in the quickdeals comments as well as FT. Poor form to call it a portal when they actually got it right. They pulled it because people didn’t bother the read the T&C (or didn’t want to).

    • I disagree. The fact that it said “only valid on media buys” made it clear that it was a mistake since the Amex gift card site doesn’t sell media slots. They pulled it because they goofed and posted some other merchant’s offer under the Amex gift card heading.

  10. Hi I have a question regarding the $5,000 limit on Amex Consumer Gift Card per 14 days.

    Is this is TCB or other portals specific limit?

    That is, can I buy $5k on TCB say today, another $5k from BeFrugal say 1 week from today, and expect both portals to each pay 1.5%?

    Or is that $5,000 limit per two weeks across ALL portals? I’m trying to spend down $25k in a month on a consumer cc.

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