$2K denomination limit on Amex gift card cash back

An easy way to increase credit card rewards is to go through a cash back portal to buy American Express gift cards.  In that way, you can earn credit card rewards for the purchase, plus cash back from the portal.  For example, if you average 2% cash back from your credit card and 2% cash back from portals, you can effectively earn 4% cash back for all purchases made with Amex gift cards.  Full details about this technique can be found here: The complete guide to Amex gift cards.

Last year, American Express stopped allowing portal cash back for gift card orders that included promotion codes for free shipping or fee free gift cards.  As a result, the best approach has been to get free shipping through Amex’s Premium Shipping Plan (you can always cancel before the free trial ends), and to reduce fees by buying the maximum $3,000 denomination cards.  Except in special circumstances each card has a $3.95 fee.  When you purchase a $3,000 gift card the fee becomes insignificant as a percentage: $3.95 / $3000 = 0.13% (approximately one eighth of one percent).

Recently, though, cash back portals have introduced language suggesting that only denominations of $2,000 or lower would earn cash back:

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BeFrugal’s terms say:

Only denominations between $25 and $2000 are eligible for cashback.  Denominations over $2000 are not eligible for cashback

And, TopCashBack says:

Please Note: Denominations over $2K are not eligible for cash back (Business Gold and Consumer Gold products.)

You might be curious about TopCashBack’s phrasing: “Business Gold and Consumer Gold products”.  What does that mean?  I assume it refers to the name of a particular type of gift card, ORIGINAL GOLD:

Amex_giftcards_original_gold

There are other types of Amex gift cards available, but the maximum denomination of each one (besides the Gold one) is only $200:

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Is the limit enforced?

My recent orders of $3000 personalized Gold gift cards show cash pending on BeFrugal.  There are a number of possibilities:

  • It’s possible that I placed the orders just before this new limit was in place
  • It’s possible that personalized cards are not affected by this new limit
  • It’s possible that this new limit is not being enforced… or, not yet.
  • It’s possible that even though the cash back currently shows as pending, it may never get confirmed as payable.

Recommended Approach: $2K or less

Since we don’t yet know if or when the new terms are/will be enforced, the safe approach is to go with $2K or smaller denominations.  $2,000 denomination gift cards are still a very good deal.  The $3.95 fee is only $3.95 / $2000 = .2% (one fifth of one percent). 

Some people prefer to buy $1,000 denomination cards because those orders seem to get approved more often (Amex mysteriously denies many orders).  Even that is a good deal.  The fee there is .4% (less than half a percent).

Note that there is nothing in the terms preventing you from buying multiple $1K or $2K cards at a time.  Keep in mind, though, each person is limited to buying no more than $10,000 worth of personal cards or $100,000 worth of business cards per 14 days.

Questions?

For more details about Amex gift cards, please see: The complete guide to Amex gift cards.

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. I noticed this change in terms when I placed my order on Sunday, so went with the $2k denominations and it is now showing as tracking with TCB. Just wish I had known the rate would jump to 2.25% today…

  2. Yikes, I didn’t see that the terms changed. Just orders a $3k and a $2k card. So do we know yet if in one order you can do 2 x $2k and a $1k or better to break this up into multiple orders. I have free shipping so that is not a factor.

  3. So when you click through TCB, say for personal, it takes you straight to the Gold card. Here you have no option to personalize or to choose a slower method of shipment, e.g. usps.

    However if you use the “Gift Cards” drop down, you can see the personlize option. Once there you can put in your name, amount and the option of using usps to save on shipping.

    Question is…Does the cashback ONLY apply to the Gold card that the TCB takes you to, or any cards you put into your cart for that session?

  4. Hi FM!

    A newbie to MS. Been reading up on it, but a lot of information seems out of date. Could you please give an updated guide on liquidating these AMEX cards? If loading to Serve or Redcard no longer works, what are the other options?

      • From what I read, loading RB and buying Visa/MC GCs doesn’t work anymore, at least not consistently. What’s AFT?

        Normal spend seems like a good option, but boring 🙂

        • I’m not sure where you read those things. I just loaded RB earlier today with Amex gift cards. And there are still places that accept Amex gift cards for purchasing Visa/MC gift cards (try supermarkets and drugstores, for example). AFT = American Express for Target. It’s another card that can be loaded at Target, but can only be unloaded via ATM

        • It will be my first time loading RB with Amex GC, do I simply swipe the GC? I know that there’s no pin, so do I have to provide any information to the cashier? the last 4 digits?….Thanks

        • I use them all the time to load AMEX for target. No need to register . Something I recommend is that ,when you apply to a new amex card, save the sticker for activation an place that sticker to every Amex gc covering the big gift word. It has worked very well for me. Some targets give you a hard time for gc. Also don’t give them the card, just be ready to read the 4 last numbers.

  5. Darn! I just ordered 2 $3000 cards this morning with the intention of loading them onto Hubby’s and my Redcards. I didn’t see the message about the $2000 limit on cash back. I knew using a promo code eliminated cash back.

    • Dee,

      I did the same thing through topcashback.com and right now it’s showing pending and $0. So I also maybe out of luck on this one.

  6. Is anybody *else* running into the problem of NOT being able to order personalized gift cards recently through TCB? I ordered $4k worth of cards today, and after being migrated over to the GOLD card, I attempted to go to the Gift Cards drop down and personalize a card. Only it said I had the option of making the value between 0 and 0 dollars. Effectively, I could NOT buy a personalized gift card when clicking through TCB’s links. But clear that TCB tracking cookie and you’re good to go…UGH

    • I was able to buy a personalized card, but nothing is pending in my TCB account. Hoping they’ll honor it when I send them the order number later.

  7. Thanks again Greg! I saw on your Twitter about the TCB 2.25% and, as always, checked your website for any updates before I placed an order. Stuck with 2K since the payback is still good.

  8. Yeah, I got caught in this. My TCB order of a $3K card shows $0 cash back in the tracking. Nice of them to just kinda throw that in there and not really tell their customers. I already emailed their customer service to complain. The reason I knew about the cash back increase was that they sent me an email to notify me. Why can’t they tell me the terms have changed??

  9. I ordered $2.5k x2. It’s currently showing the CB in progress at TCB. I am thinking about calling to cancel the order . when they started to enforce that fee free or free shipping codes would void the CB, at first it showed the CB in progress then disappeared . So there’s a likely likelihood the same will happen . Anybody cancelling with me?

  10. I have a 2x$3k from BeFrugral placed last Tuesday that is showing as pending so far. How long it takes to switch from pending to paid?

  11. I’ve read comments that Citi cards used to buy AMEX gift cards are considered as Cash Advance. Are you aware of any issues with using Citi Card to buy Visa GCs from giftcardmall.com ?

  12. Looks like my $3,000 cards are paying also. Anyone else? Would be a lot more convenient and slightly more profitable if I could buy the 3K cards.

  13. I just realized TCB didn’t pay me for the purchases. I bought 1 $3K and 1 $2K. None were paid. They showed as pending in the beginning, but then I didn’t check again until now. Looks like I loss big on this one. I always cash these out and the ATM fees caused me a big loss. Sucks.

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