Important Update 5/18/2016: Amex no longer pays out for purchases made through portals unless the Amex gift card denominations are $200 or less. As a result, I no longer recommend buying Amex gift cards for the purpose of increasing credit card and portal rewards.
I’ve written a lot lately about Amex gift cards. They’re special because it’s possible to click through a cash back portal to buy Amex gift cards and get cash back. In this way, you can earn credit card rewards and cash back at the same time. Full details can be found in these posts:
You may also be interested in this one:
When buying gift cards for cash back, it’s important to pay as little in fees and shipping charges as possible in order to maximize your profit.
Each Amex gift card incurs a $3.95 fee. There are often promo codes available to eliminate that fee, but you shouldn’t use them. Use of a promo code invalidates portal cash back. The best way to reduce fees as a percentage of your total spend is to buy the largest denomination cards possible where you can still get portal cash back. Currently, Amex offers cards worth up to $3,000, but you shouldn’t buy those. You will not earn portal cash back for any gift cards with denominations over $2,000.
So, to reduce fees:
- Buy $2,000 denomination gift cards.
- It is fine to buy multiple $2,000 cards in one order. For example, you will still get portal cash back if you buy three $2,000 cards, but you will not get portal cash back if you buy two $3,000 cards.
- Do not use codes to reduce fees.
Amex typically charges $8.95 for expedited 2 day shipping, regardless of how many cards you buy at once. So, you can reduce shipping fees as a percent of total by buying multiple cards at once. Another option is to sign up for their Premium Shipping Plan which gives you unlimited next-day shipping for $99 per year.
3 Month Free Trial
If you’ve never signed up for the Premium Shipping Plan in the past, you can sign up for a 3 month free trial. Amex used to offer the 3 month trial for all gift card orders in which the customer has signed into their Amex online account. Now, that’s no longer true. The key to finding this option is to sign into your Amex account and then buy either Personalized gift cards or Custom Message business gift cards…
Personalized gift cards
After clicking through from a portal, you can select “Personalized Cards” from the Gift Cards menu. In the section titled “Choose a Shipping Method,” you should see the 3-Month Free Trial as an option, like this:
Custom Message Business Gift Cards
If you want to buy business gift cards, go to the Business Gift Cards menu and select “Custom Message Cards”.
After filling out the customized message (which can be your own name, if you like) and adding items to your cart, you should see something like this at checkout:
Choose the Premium Shipping option to start your free trial.
If you have multiple separate Amex online accounts, you can sign up for the free trial once per account. So, sign up for the free trial with one account, then cancel the plan after 3 months; then sign up for the free trial with your second account. In that way you can get 6 months of free shipping instead of just 3.