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No Fees on Amex Gift Cards and Rebates For The Holidays

by on November 26, 2013 · 33 comments

in American Express, Big Crumbs

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 cards are great because they are accepted everywhere Amex are excepted, so whether you’re buying them for yourself or giving them to others, it’s basically just like buying money.

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The one downside (and it’s a small one) is that Amex normally charges a fee of between $3.95-$6.95 per card (depending on its value) and about $5.95-$8.95 in shipping. However, just in time for the holidays, Amex is waiving fees (though you still have to pay shipping) on gift card purchases made between now and January 31, 2014 when you use the promo code HOLIDAYCC4 at check out.

You can purchase gift cards in denominations from $25-$3,000 up to a total of $5,000 per order – and you can use any kind of credit card you like to make the purchase, it doesn’t have to be an Amex. Orders of $200 or more must be shipped via UPS. Then be sure to enter to promo code to have the fee waived, and when you purchase several gift cards in a single order going to the same address, you’ll just be charged a single shipping fee:

Screen shot 2013-11-26 at 4.51.52 PMBut remember that if you buy first click through to American Express via an online rebate site you can save even more in the form of an automatic rebate. For example, right now, Big Crumbs offers up to 2% back on Amex gift cards.

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And Ebates is offering 1% cash back:

 

Screen shot 2013-11-26 at 4.48.07 PMSo 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 – or even making money back!

If you’re interested in doing so, here are some quick instructions for you:

1. Create a BigCrumbs or Ebates account.
2. Once logged in, search for American Express – a few results will come up including one for cash back on Amex gift cards. Click on it to be redirected to the Amex site.
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. Choose how many you want – up to $5,000 per order. If you’re just going for straight-up spending, I’d suggest a $2,000 and a $3,000 to hit the max with the lowest shipping costs, though you can order as many as you like.
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.

With the current BigCrumbs 2% rebate, a purchase of a $3,000 and a $2,000 gift card will cost you $5,008.95 minus the $100.18 2% rebate, so you’re getting $5,000 worth of gift cards plus $5,009 points for a total of $4,908.77!

Two Notes of Caution

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 (updated and Chase as well), 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.

Some people have also 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.

All in all, this can be a great way either to rack up some bonus points or hit minimum spending requirements, or to get friends and loved ones nice gifts they can use anywhere, all while being savvy about sustainable points earning, and even earning a nice little cash back discount.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Lonetree

    Just a warning that Chase is coding these as cash advances now too.

  • Eric

    TPG, reading a post on FrugalTG, have you any experience of buying Amex gift cards and than loading them into bluebird? I’m thinking of doing that in order to get points for my car payment, mortgage…thoughts?

  • guest

    Using a code while going thru Big Crumbs often results in having your cash back denied.

  • P

    You won’t hear TPG go negative on his sugar-daddy Chase by revealing that they are now calling these cash advances. He’ll plead ignorance and let you trip on the fee before he risks his referral links.

  • mikeb

    called chase and confirmed they are charged as a cash advance. Why is this not posted and only citi??

  • McMunch

    You cannot load Amex gift cards onto Bluebird. It will not work. WARNING!

  • McMunch

    So your data to support that claim would be? I’ve saved thousands on the information presented by TPG but I’ve somehow managed to maintain by brain and realize he isn’t presenting this information for his health or his jollies. This is a business, and I’ve seen nothing to support what you are saying. Caveat emptor, in all things, including libel my friend!

  • Annoyed

    rule #1: never call the bank

  • mikeb

    why so that we can be charged interest right of the bat at a 20% apr with no grace period. maybe other readers would like to know that before buying cards. sorry if your annoyed looks like you work for chase

  • mikeb

    They are posted as a cash advance by chase because they are purchased through amex which is a bank. I dont think TPG knows that or at least i hope he dosent and chose not post that information

  • P

    See FT thread on Amex gc’s in the Mfd Spend forum. There’s a “wikipost” disclosing the banks that will classify Amex gc’s as a cash advance — currently there are 5 confirmed, and Citi is just one of them. TPG staff have referenced this forum in past postings, and no doubt they read it daily. They’re aware that Chase is on that list. To explicitly name Citi and hide Chase is shameful.

  • thepointsguy

    No you cannot load them onto Bluebird unfortunately

  • thepointsguy

    Good to know- updated the post

  • thepointsguy

    I just updated the post

  • thepointsguy

    I updated the post- was not aware

  • thepointsguy

    I was not aware, but the post is now updated

  • thepointsguy

    I clearly stated that everyone should confirm whether they post as a cash advance or not. I updated the post to list Chase as a bank that does charge, so those cards should be avoided

  • Santa

    CVS is selling these AMEX gift cards with the fee waived. (See this weeks ad) Not sure how Chase/Citi/AMEX does the coding on CVS purchases but worth looking into. The CVS I was at was loaded with cards both with preset dollar values ($25, $50, $100 etc.) as well as cards which could be loaded with an amount between $25 – $500. Although with no fee it shouldn’t matter what denomination you purchase.

  • Jay

    Obviously this method is out for meeting minimum spend for my new Chase Mileage Plus Explorer card. Couple of questions: #1 – Do AMEX gift cards purchased at a retail store work the same way? #1b – If not, does anyone know of the largest denominations you can purchase this way? #2 – Alternatively, just to confirm, store gift cards (supermarkets, gas stations, Walmart) still count as regular spend not cash advance, right? Sorry I’m assuming the answers are #1-yes, #2-yes; just making sure.

  • guest

    Entirely different product.

  • guest

    If you’re going to depend on others, including bloggers, to do the heavy lifting for you, then this isn’t the game for you.

  • paulwesterdawg

    so…I could hit my Spend Minimum on a Delta Plat AMex this way? Very interesting.

  • Nathan

    What do you do with the cards if BB doesn’t work?

  • jasmine

    Well then why are you on this site if you know everything about the game??

  • Tx_hr

    You can’t use the code if you connect through ebates. I tried personally and got an error. The fine print I dictates it can’t be used if linking from third party or partner sites. I was able to make the purchase with the code after I went straight to the site.

  • Dallas_TX

    I tried to purchase AMEX Gift Card today with Citi AA Master card and I reduced my Cash Advance limit to a very limit to do a test and transaction was denied. I called Citi and they confirmed it is coded as AMEX as Cash Advance.

    I guess my only option to meet the limit to Citi AA Card is to load my AMEX Bluebird with Vanilla Reloads with CVS and pay a fee. Still better than nothing but hate to see that Cash Back go away :(.

  • Speedbird1

    Is it possible to use my SPG Amex to buy american express gift cards thru an online portal from americanexpress website to meet the minimum spending requirements? I can make a little bit of money this way and meet the spending requirements at the same time.

  • Jonatas Silva

    I have the same question

  • cher

    is the code dead?

  • Jazzaholic

    I wasn’t paying attention ;–( and bought $10k of AMEX gift cards, thinking I could buy WalMart $1k money orders, but there’s no pin with the gift cards.

    Any ideas on how I can cash these out to pay off the credit card?

  • Ela

    This is so helpful. Thank you. Do you know if Chase is also coding Visa gift cards (from GiftCardMall for example) as a cash advance? If so, what are other good ways to hit the minimum spend?

  • Tommy Z

    I understand that you can shift the time of your spending using gift cards (put spending on the credit card now while deferring the actual spend by holding on to the gift card). However, is there a way to actually cash out these gift cards? For example, can these gift cards have their balances emptied for actual money so you can use that money to deposit it at the bank so you can pay your credit card bill?

  • Scubasab

    WARNING! AMEX is now considering these gift card purchases as CASH ADVANCES, and will report it to your credit card company as such! They claim they are under no obligation to tell this to the consumer. My company uses these as thank you gifts for our business contacts, and I was just charged $400 in fees with NO WARNING.

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