How to sign up for the Amex gift card Premium Shipping 3-Month Free Trial

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.

Fees

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.

Shipping Charges

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

Amex gift card Premium Shipping

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:

Amex gift card Premium Shipping

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”.

Amex gift card Premium Shipping

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:

Amex gift card Premium Shipping

Choose the Premium Shipping option to start your free trial.

Tip

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.

Hat Tip to Atricus for showing us how to find the free shipping trial

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 have never tried this, but read about it so often, I wonder if I “should”. Could you tell me what options there are, if any, if your cards are stolen/missing from the mailbox?

    • If you are new to doing this (manufactured spend), tread carefully. Start with something else, like Serve or Redbird and Visas/MC. Liquidating Amex cards is impossible for most. Then again if you plan on using your Amex gift cards for normal spend, then have at it. Whether your Amex cards in the mail go missing should be the least of your concerns.

      • I agree with the advice to tread carefully and test liquidating the cards. I’ve been buying Visa GCs at CVS with them, then loading them on my Redbird.

        I wait to purchase Amex GC until the cashback is 2.25%.
        $2000 generates $45, minus $3.95 Amex GC fee = $41.05.
        $5.95 Visa GC fees x 4 = $23.80
        Net $17.25
        I don’t do it for the cash. It is time consuming. But, it doesn’t cost me money.

        Yesterday, I tried Greg’s new solution… I paid my mortgage with Plastiq. I just got an email from Plastiq that they processed the payment. More convenient and still net positive.

    • I agree with the above advice. Start slowly. If cards are missing, you can find the phone number and order number on the email receipt from Amex. Call them and they can deactivate the cards. I’m not sure what would happen if they were already used.

  2. are you inferring if we have multiple AU logins we can have free shipping for 3 months per login or is it only for the main acct?

  3. A couple of questions:

    Would this work for a Wells Fargo AMEX branded card?

    If I have multiple AMEX cards, do I need separate login information to be able to take advantage of multiple free trials?

    • Wells Fargo Amex: I don’t think so.
      Multiple Amex cards: yes if you want multiple free trials I believe you would need multiple separate logins. I don’t generally do this myself because I find its more work than its worth to maintain separate logins, but there are some advantages such as this.

  4. My purchase request for $2000 gift card was denied yesterday by AMEX. “Your order was not fulfilled for the following reasons: We could not verify your order information and cannot approve your order at this time.” I will get back with the actual reason, once I contact them.

    • I wouldn’t bother calling. They tend to make up reasons and just confuse things more. For a long time I was able to place orders under my wife’s account, but not my own. Then, when I started buying business Amex gift cards I found that I could get approved if I used my real business EIN rather than my SSN as my tax ID. Others have had the opposite situation: using their SSN worked better than an EIN. My advice: keep changing little details like those until you find a combo that gets approved.

      • Called, think I was talking to someone in another country. But either way, I was denied because I was trying purchase a business gift card with a personal credit card. Apparently Simply Best Coupon AMEX link sends you to the business gift cards, but if your going to use a business credit card you will have to select the “Gift Card” at the top and then select “Popular Cards” link. That got the job done, purchase compete and accepted.

  5. As a note as I have posted on FT, I have had approved, tracked and paid out for custom values over 2k. I have done custom business cards of 2024 (2000+5.95*4 vgc fee). Success through both SBC and TCB

    • Thanks, that’s a useful data point. I don’t think I’ll change the wording of my recommendations, though, unless/until we get confirmation about where the cutoff is. That is, is it ok to have any amount less than $3K? Or, is the cutoff somewhere closer to $2K?

  6. With the 2% rate on Plastiq, I might try this now. My main AMEX login has done the free trial a couple years ago, then I was able to get the 1 year free shipping via a trick you reported about 1.5 years ago. Will I still be able to get the 3 mo by doing the personalized GC method? If not, I have several AU logins under my name; I’ll probably try one of those.

    • I don’t think you’ll still be able to get the 3 months free on that same account, but it can’t hurt to try. Note an interesting development: Using the account that had 1 year free from that free shipping code last year, I added the premium shipping plan to an order after my free shipping had expired. I fully expected to pay $99, but I was never charged. I have no idea why.

      • I have a very similar experience. My 1 year free shipping from the free shipping code expired in June. It allowed me to sign up for the 3 free months/premium shipping option again. I was fully expecting to pay $99 but no charge yet. I’m speculating they are giving me the 3 month trial and I’ll see the charge in September? Who knows…

  7. All,

    I am new to manufactured spending but have read a lot over the last month or so. I started looking into this because I mostly wanted to get cash back for my mortgage payments and other utilities, but now after reading I plan to use it beyond that. I got 2 redbirds for myself and my wife and would like some advice on the following:

    1. How do you sign up for the AMEX online account? Do you need to have a regular AMEX card for that? When I go to the AMEF gift card web site I follow the links to register for an online account but it is asking for a 15 digit card number and 4 digit id. I thought I could just register for an account so that I can then buy the gift cards. I guess I want to sign up for the free trial for the shipping but what do I need to sign up/ register?

    2. If I buy a personalized AMEX gift card and then activate it online/ register it by calling, can I then use that gift card to purchase other AMEX gift cards through a cash back portal?

    3. I have a Citi Double Cash card and I have read some older posts about purchases getting tagged as cash advances. Some of the newer posts seem to indicate that this is no longer an issue but I want to hear from some of the people in this forum. I am considering getting an Fidelity AMEX card that also offers 2% cash back but what I like about the Citi card is that I can redeem my cash back as a statement credit, which speeds up redemption.

    • 1. Yes, you have to have a regular Amex credit or charge card
      2. No, you can’t buy Amex gift cards with Amex gift cards.
      3. My understanding is that Double Cash does not charge a cash advance fee, but it also doesn’t pay out the second 1% so you’re better off with the Fidelity card.

  8. I figured you wrote so much about Amex GCs because you a hack so you only have a few really good ideas left so to drum up that credit card business you gotsta pump away and keep rehashing the same ideas over and over. I mean its hard to come up with new stuff am I right or what? So either you are not posting the other good ideas on MS or your CC clicky power is evaporating slowly but surely. You seem like a fish in an ever smaller pond. Eventually you’ll have no oxygen left to breathe.

      • Sounds like you are in the dark. you’d be surprised how much MS is getting done under the radar. I cant be positive that FM doesnt know about but my guess he that he knows more than he leads on here and does a lot of MSing that doesnt get reported. Only a few crumbs for the blog readers to keep dem clicks coming.

  9. I wonder what will happen if I sign up for the $99 one year premium shipping plan now and cancel the credit card that was used to sign up the online login before the shipping plan expires? Will I still be able to use that online login account for premium shipping after the credit card being cancelled?

  10. I’ve had the 1 year trial before and wasn’t able to get the 3 month free trial. I now just tried logging in with an AU account, and the 3 month trial was there. This is an AU from a Blue card– I assume I can still use my brand new SPG card to buy gift cards…?

  11. If I pay for premium shipping on one card, can you use that shipping on your other cards with separate logins? Say buy it on my platinum then buy cards on my spg? Want to use Amex offers on al my cards but not do separate shipping plans

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