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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 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.
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:
But 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.
And Ebates is offering 1% cash 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. There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.
There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.