Earning Points With American Express Gift Card Purchases, Plus Free Shipping Promo Codes and Cashback

by on May 10, 2012 · 46 comments

in American Express, Big Crumbs, Shopping

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Buying gift cards is a great way to meet your minimum spend requirements, as well as to keep earning points beyond sign-up bonuses. It just takes a little advance planning to figure out what you’re going to buy at what merchant so you can get the gift card first then use that to pay off your purchase (especially through an online shopping portal so you potentially double dip and earn points again).

American Express Gift Cards are great because it’s basically the same as giving cash (they are accepted everywhere that accepts Amex) – except you earn points for buying them! This is especially important during graduation season- if you are true points junkie, you never give cash, especially since most grads often have lots of purchases to make, they won’t mind using gift cards.

Normally Amex gift cards come with a $3.95 per card fee and $8.95 shipping charge, however until June 30, 2012, you can buy them and get free standard shipping and handling using the code: EMMOTWEL, and plus, if you buy them via an online rebate site you can save even more in the form of an automatic rebate. Big Crumbs offers 1.4% back on on Amex gift cards and Ebates offers 1% and up to a $10 gift card. Note: These sites also give you credit for referring new members, so if you are current member feel free to post your sign-up referral link in the comments so you get credit for any TPG sign-ups so we all share the referral love.

Free shipping and up to 1.5% cashback when you purchase via Big Crumbs.

You don’t have to sign up for BigCrumbs to get the gift cards – you’ll just miss out on 1.4% cash back on your order. If you want to order the gift card directly go here and continue from step 4:

1. Create a BigCrumbs or Ebates account (preferably using a referral link from the comments section).

Creating a Big Crumbs account only takes a moment and can earn you up to 1.4% cashback on Amex gift cards.

2. Then search for American Express – a few results will come up (including a Mother’s Day one if you’re behind!). Choose the one that says “Free Standard Shipping on Consumer American Express Gift Cards.”
3. Sign-in with your American Express ID. If you don’t have one, you can create one (you do not need to be an Amex cardholder to buy Amex gift cards).

Classic gift cards can be purchased in denominations of up to $3,000

4. Choose the card you want. Some have low limits – the generic goes up to $3,000.
5. Choose how many you want – up to $5,000 per order.

$3,003.95 for a $3,000 gift card - before rebates

7. Check out. It will default to your Amex cards (if you have them), but you can choose to pay with a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover, and make sure you put the promo code EMMOTWEL in the appropriate box to get free shipping.

So in the end, a $3,000 gift card comes out to $3,003.95. If you factor in 1.4% back from BigCrumbs, you are only spending $2,961.89 for a $3,000 gift card – plus you earned 3,000 points (or more depending on the card you used) and got valuable spend towards hitting a sign-up bonus or spend bonus.

I have ordered these gift cards with Amex charge cards in the past and I’ve never had an issue with it being questioned or being coded as a cash advance, though some credit card companies like Citi, will charge them as cash advances, so be sure to do a test order before getting carried away. On my Amex statements these purchases show up as “Business Services – Other Services.”

It is also important to note that some people have gotten Financial Reviews (account audits) from American Express for buying lots of gift cards. The point of a financial review is for Amex to identify people who are likely to charge up their cards and then skip town and default on the debt – and people who buy tons of Amex gift cards are prime suspects, because that’s as close as you can get to getting cash from your credit line without getting hit with a cash advance fee. However, if you have a healthy relationship with Amex and don’t go overboard, you should have nothing to worry about.

So to sum it up, this is a great way to get someone special a nice graduation gift that they can spend however they choose, while meeting your minimum spending requirements or simply being savvy about sustainable points earning, and even earning a nice little cashback discount. Congratulations, you’ve graduated to the next level of smart spending!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Charles Clarke

    Quite generous of you to allow us to post our BigCrumbs referral links! Thank you. Here’s mine:

  • Mark
  • Clinton Blackburn

    Alternatively, you can purchase Amazon Gift Cards (with no fee). If you have an Amazon Associate account, Amazon pays you a 6% referral fee for the purchase. Here’s a link for a non-profit I support:

  • Jeffjefferson

    Any experience with these as meeting minimum spend for Chase INK?

  • Ketan Shah

    You don’t earn 1.6% at bigcrumbs this was changed a while back to 1.4%. Please consider using my referral link:

  • Bobbi Shaftoe

    Every little bit helps. Here’s my Big Crumbs referral link:

  • duc1986d

    Here is my referral links
    Thanks a lot

  • Lauren

    Since you’re taking volunteers, here’s my ebates link:

    Thanks for all the good info you provide! I’m excited to be taking my first miles/points funded trip in August.

  • Ketan Shah

    TPG please also change 1.6% to 1.4% below the screenshots to avoid confusion.

  • The Points Guy

    Thanks Ketan, we just corrected it and changed our calculations to reflect the 1.4%.

  • PJ

    “I have ordered these gift cards with Amex charge cards in the past and I’ve never had an issue with it being questioned or being coded as a cash advance, though some credit card companies like Citi, will charge them as cash advances,..” When I said otherwise here in the past nobody corrected me When I asked Amex CR I was alerted it would be treated as cash advances and NOT eligible what a confusing world

    Looking for more readers to echo same experience : purchase of amex gift cards is eligible for MIN spend thanks

  • Steventravel

    Got this message when entering the code above just a few minutes ago, anyone with luck or a different code? We’re sorry, but the Promotion code you entered is not valid or has expired. Please check to make sure that you entered the correct Code.

  • Dbennett

    Couldn’t you go to a store like “wal-mart” and buy the Amex gift cards with something like a gallon of milk and then the cc company wouldn’t know what you purchased? I don’t think stores give the cc company a breakdown of what you charged.

  • Victor

    TPG, Thanks a lot for your valuable info as always and your generosity.

    Here is my BigCrumbs Link

  • Wany May

    You are so nice to allow us post out links.
    Thanks TPG
    And for those who would like to take my ebates or bigcrumbs referral, please use the link below. Appreciated!

    I personally prefer ebates and mrrebates over other similar sites. But for this particular case, bigcrumbs rocks.


  • PJ

    never a problem with Chase cards PERIOD

  • PJ

    here are a few double dipping ideas: 1. grocery store let you buy gift cards $1000 with 5 % discount and you charge the $950 on your Chase Freedom ( UR ponts is worth >$.01 ) or Discover and use up grocery cards for groceries or Gas cards as days go along >> in practice, you are getting 10 % off all year around on gas and groceries ; hope in your family you have more than a few Freedom cards signed up with >$ 200 signon bonus 2. Grocery stores let you buy Visa gift card $500 one clip with $5.95 activaton fees. even you just charge on your Freedom cards you are still well ahead of the penny pinching game. 3. Gas is expensive in California, why charge gas on a credit card when you can buy Union or Chevron gas cards in the supermarket with Chase Freedom cards ( 5% rebate this quarter) and fuel your card with gas at Cash price ?

  • Astrophsx

    The Original Big Crumbs Referral Link:

    1,675+ referrals and growing!

  • PJ

    “Sorry, Membership Rewards® points cannot be used with this payment method.”

    this shows up on the order page after promo code was in place. I asssume this simply tell the cutomer NOT to use Membership Rewards points. It does not say the gift card purchase with an amex card is NOT an eligible purchase correct ?

    also, anybody is aware if the gift card if lost or mislocated can it be replaced and is the PIN a must when you use the gift card ?

  • Samuel Adams

    Here’s my ebates referral link. Get a $10 gift card after your first $25 purchase!

  • Kevin

    Are these purchases treated as cash advances?

  • PJ

    Pal, please read the posting again :) according to TPG, only Citi playes the hard ball . I do know my friends were having fun with Amex Gift cards to fill Spend on new Sapphire Preferred. If you ask AMEX CR, they would tell you amex gift cards are not eligible items contrary to TPG’s personal experiences. I am about to give it a try to fill AMEX Skymiles Spend in a few clicking through

  • PJ

    the problem with Wal Mart cud be they might not have gifts cards with high dollar denominations. why pass up the double dipping through or similars?

  • Erik

    Is it possible to withdraw the money on your gift card at an ATM?

  • Mwkeplin

    I have a Starwood Amex and I have found that buying Amex gift card does count toward the minimum spend but does not earn Starpoints.

  • David Miller

    I”ll throw my hat in the ring with my BigCrumbs referral link:

  • Jobu

    Thanks for the opportunity to share referral links, the rebate sites not only help save with rebates on purchases, you can to find coupon codes for additional discounts

    Big Crumbs,

    Mr Rebates, $7.50 for signing up

    Ebates: $5 bonus for signing up

    and of course,, to find the best rebate.

  • PJ

    OOPs, good to know ; this is what I was told by the AMEX service Reps; anybody eles cares to share your amex card experience ? please

  • PJ

    ” is it possible Banks can write small checks to us 24/7/365? ”

  • PJ

    just google it; many other codes would do such as GEN375 EMADMWL3

  • Bakejonesvoip

    I did exactly the same with an AMEX card, ended up incurring Financial review from AMEX (yes, a abhorrent call from India). Now all my cards are closed. Be careful

  • Bakejonesvoip

    I should add more details: I had over 10 years of “healthy” relationship with them, did most purchases on SPG, blue cash, paid annual fee for over 5 years on Platinum, etc, etc. Now, they closed my account because I bought $1000 gift card on my own will. I wished I had told the rude FR guy, when he questioned why I bought the gift card: ‘that’s none of your forgetting business’… Sorry for being a little emo here.

  • Steventravel

    What did you tell the FR guy?

  • David D

    Ebates is definitely my favorite cash back site whenever I am buying anything (or scheduling a flight/reserving a car)

    $5 Sign-up Bonus link:

  • Bakejonesvoip

    I felt very offended and hung up quickly. Later I sent a secure message, told them I had been a loyal customer for years and refused to risk identity theft by sending tax info to the outsourced FR department. Anyway, people may have reasons to comply, but I chose not to after being treated like this.

  • PJ

    thanks for sharing your experience; i would suggest a good way to fill SPEND is to prepay your cable , wireless, club fees ( such as my YMCA fees). I have a friend he prepaid 1 year wirelss and phone+dsl for a year to fill the $5000 spend on Citi Thanks for the huge sign on ( 100K ?)

    also swap bills with your trusted ones : they pay their bills with my amex card ; I pay my bills with their Visa card or I simply play good Daddy and get my kids to charge bills on my AMEX or Sapphire Preferred to fill SPEND

    at any rate if you can charge on credit cards for your spending all the time when enough newly signed on credit cards are available to you or your family. say spend 2500 on Citi Thanks and get 50K you are getting $3000 and pay only 2500.

    Last year was an exceptionally unusual year: in theory or practice, I could have spent JUST about 22,000 and still reaped more than 900K travel miles and hotel points

  • Momstaos

    Hi there, you should go with bigcrumbs it is great. Here is link:

  • realityczech

    r u kidding? walmart tracks Every-thing. wouldn’t be surprised if gift cards have rf devices in them and then the run reports and send over to amex for review. they make the dept of homeland security look like amateurs.

  • Senthil Ramasamy

    thanks TPG.

    Here is my BigCrumbs referral.

  • CT

    I’d recommend comparing cash back sites for each purchase. That’s how I save the most. Check out:

  • Dan

    I used one of the referral links above.
    Now, I hope someone will use mine :
    (and thanks especially to Brian for your generosity).

  • Bethodonnell

    Anyone having trouble using the code EMMOTWEL? I got a message saying it expired.

  • Pingback: Ideas for Maximizing Top Travel Credit Cards for College Students | The Points Guy()

  • Pola

    Be very careful. We had a great relationship with amex, always timely payments – had cards for 10 yrs and they closed both our cards because we purchased the amex gift cards via bigcrumbs. This looks arbitrary but better be careful.

  • HippityHop

    Wow, Pola, how many AMEX gift cards did you buy through bigcrumbs before they closed your accounts? I have over a 15 yr relationship with AMEX and do not want to be shut down.

    Here is my bigcrumbs referral link:

    I just started buying the AMEX gift card directly from AMEX, using my discover card – I think it is going to count as the qtrly 5% online bonus.

  • HippityHop

    Sorry I should replied to your post and instead I create a new one.

    Do you mind saying how often of how many AMEX gift cards you bought through bigcrumbs before AMEX cloed your accounts?

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