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Buying gift cards can be a great way to meet your minimum spend requirements for credit card sign-up bonuses, as well as to keep earning points beyond sign-up bonuses and even meet spending threshold bonuses.
Although many gift cards are merchant-specific, American Express gift cardsare great because they are accepted everywhere Amex are excepted, so whether you’re buying them for yourself or giving them to others, it’s almost like giving the gift of money.
Speaking of gift giving, now that it’s graduation season (and also Father’s Day is coming up), you might have a few to-do’s on your gifting list and Amex gift cards should be something to consider, especially if you were just thinking of giving your favorite grad some cash to get him or her started anyway, because you might as well earn points on your gift.
The reason now is the time to consider an Amex gift card in particular is that normally Amex charges a fee of between $3.95-$6.95 per card (depending on its value) and about $5.95-$8.95 in shipping. However, now through August 31, 2013 you can use the code GIFTFG1 when making your purchase of a Photo Gift Card, and card fee will be waived (though you still have to pay shipping).
Gift cards can range between $25-$3,000 in value and your purchases can total up to $5,000. Orders of $200 or more can only be shipped via UPS.
Also remember that if you buy them via an online rebate site you can save even more in the form of an automatic rebate. For example, right now, Big Crumbs offers 1.4% back on Amex gift cards and Ebates is offering 1% cash back, so depending on the value of the card you buy and the shipping fees, you could be saving as much money as you’re spending on shipping – essentially breaking even. 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.
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:
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 offers cash back on personal 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).
4. Look for the photo gift cards and upload a photo – it can be anything and enter the promo code GIFTFG1 in the promo code/discount box.
5. Choose how many you want – up to $5,000 per order.
6. 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.
A $3,000 gift card comes out to $3,008.95. If you factor in 1.4% back from BigCrumbs, you are only spending $2,966.83 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.” I’ve earned Amex points when buying them, but several TPG readers have reported that Amex won’t count these purchases towards meeting spend requirements- if anyone can comment about their experiences doing so, that would be great.
It is also important to note that some people have gotten Financial Reviews (account audits) from American Express for buying lots of gift cards- especially on business cards, which are higher risk to credit card companies than personal 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 points collecting!