Amex gift cards… beyond everything


In the post “Everything you ever wanted to know about Amex gift cards” I seem to have left out a few important details.  So, in this post, we will go beyond everything, once again in the form of questions and answers…


Q: Why did my order get declined?

There are several reasons why Amex may decline your order:

  1. Your purchase exceeds your cash advance limit.  Some credit cards treat online Amex gift card purchases as cash advances.  In these situations, be glad that your order was declined. Cash advances do not result in credit card rewards, but they do result in unwanted fees.  Also, several readers have reported to me that some credit cards treat the purchase, initially, as a cash advance for the purpose of authorizing the charge, but then put through the actual charge as a purchase.  If your cash advance limit is too low in these situations your order will be declined.
  2. The name and address you input in the order (billing info) do not match your name and address on your credit card.  This information has to match perfectly for the order to go through.
  3. Random chance.  It is common to receive an email from Amex stating that they “could not verify your order information and cannot approve your order at this time.”  Sometimes this can be caused by #2, above, but other times it seems to be completely random.  I swear that I’ve entered in the same exact information with the same credit card for payment time and again, and sometimes it is approved and sometimes declined.  I’m sure its not truly random, but may be a function of who gets assigned to verify your order, or maybe the cycle of the moon at the time.

Q: Do I have to use a business credit card to buy business gift cards?

A: No.  Some people have been told by Amex reps that their orders were not approved because they didn’t use business credit cards to pay.  I don’t believe this.  I use personal Amex cards regularly to buy business gift cards.

Q: I read that Chase charges cash advance fees when buying Amex gift cards. How can I avoid those fees?

A: There was a brief period in 2013 when Chase charged cash advance fees for Amex gift cards, but that has been fixed. Please see this post for more: It’s once again safe to buy Amex gift cards with your Chase card.

Q: Is it safe to use a Citibank card to buy Amex gift cards online?

A: No!  In most cases the purchase will be treated as a cash advance.  I’ve read conflicting stories about this, but I tested it recently with my own Citi AA Executive card and did indeed receive a cash advance fee.  Its possible that Citi handles this differently with different cards, but my advice is to play it safe and stay away from the cards listed in the “not safe” section in my original Amex gift card post.

Q: When shopping on the Barclays RewardsBoost portal, do I get the advertised bonus points on top of the points earned by my credit card?

A: Yes.  For example, when the RewardsBoost portal offers 4 points per dollar for Amex gift cards, you will earn 4 points per dollar in addition to the points earned automatically by your credit card.  So, if you pay with the Arrival card that earns 2 points per dollar everywhere, you’ll earn a total of 6 points per dollar.

Q: Do I have to use the Barclays credit card to earn points when shopping through the RewardsBoost portal?

A: In my experience, no.  I have used Amex cards to pay when buying Amex gift cards and have still earned points from the portal.

Q: It has been three weeks since buying gift cards through the RewardsBoost portal, but I still do not see any rewards activity on my account.  Am I out of luck?

A: Hopefully not. It’s common for mile earning portals, including this one, to take a month or longer before showing any evidence of large purchases like these.  My advice: be patient.

Q: Isn’t it risky to have these cards shipped by mail?

A: Yes, there is always some risk that someone will steal your gift cards before you can get to them.  If that happens to you, I’d recommend that you call Amex immediately.  They should be able to help (I imagine this would take a lot of patience on your part, though!).

Q: Can I use these gift cards in-store to buy Visa/MasterCard debit gift cards?

A: Maybe.  Many cashiers have been trained to not allow this, but it is still possible at some stores and/or with some cashiers.  You may have to do some experimentation to find a place where this works.

Q: Can I use these gift cards to send money to others via Amazon Payments?

A: Yes.  When adding the gift card to your Amazon payment sources, you may want to initially put in the wrong expiration date.  This way there is no risk of Amazon putting a $1 hold on the card when verifying it.  You can change it back to the correct expiration date immediately afterwards.

Q: I’ve heard that there’s an option to sign up for free shipping for 90 days. How do I find that?

A: Make sure to log into your American Express account during the gift card check-out process.  When you get to the screen offering shipping options, you should see the offer.

See Also

NOTE: I will add the above Q&A to the original post soon (assuming I remember to)

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