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Rebates and No Fees on Amex Gift Cards Through May 31, 2014

by on April 10, 2014 · 37 comments

in American Express

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Seems like American Express is always coming up with excuses to cut the fees on purchasing their prepaid gift cards – and there’s no reason folks with points-earning credit cards shouldn’t benefit. Buying American Express gift cards can be a great way to meet the minimum spend requirements for huge credit card sign-up bonuses, as well as to keep earning points beyond sign-up bonuses and even meet calendar year spending threshold bonuses.

The last no-fee Amex promo ended on April 1, but now for “Administrative Professionals Day,” Amex is offering gift cards with no purchase fees through May 31, 2014.

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You can order here and be sure to enter the promo code ADAYBCN to get the purchase fees taken off your total.

American Express gift cards are great because they are accepted everywhere Amex are accepted just like a credit or charge card, so whether you’re buying them for yourself or giving them to others, it’s basically just like buying money.

The reason this promo is good news is that Amex normally charges a purchase fee of between $3.95-$6.95 per card (depending on its value) and about $5.95-$8.95 in shipping since it must be done via UPS, so you really have to crunch the numbers to make sure those extra points are worth spending on those fees.

However, when Amex waives the fees on gift card purchases, that calculus shifts. You can buy up to $5,000 per order and a shipping fee of $8.95 applies. However, if you are purchasing and shipping them as a single order to the same address, you’ll just pay shipping once.

Before you go straight to Amex, though, remember that you can often get rebates and discounts on Amex gift cards through online rebate sites. Right now, here are the rebates being offered.

Top Cash Back is offering 2% rebates on Amex Gift cards.

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Big Crumbs offers up to 1.2% back on Amex gift cards right now.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 10.33.26 AMAnd Ebates is offering 1% cash back (offer ends April 30):

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 10.34.10 AMSo 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 getting more money on the Amex gift cards than your order costs altogether including shipping.

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

1. Create a Top Cash Back, 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 full $5,000 order 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 Top Cash Back 2% rebate, for example, a purchase of  $5,000 in gift cards will cost you $5,008.95 minus the $100 from the 2% rebate, so you’re getting $5,000 worth of gift cards for $4,908.95, plus 5,009 points. Not bad!

Two Caveats

In some cases, the purchase of Amex gift cards is coded as a cash advance. I have never personally had this issue myself, but Citi and Chase will charge them as cash advances, so be sure to do a test order before you go buying thousands of dollars worth of them. On my American Express statements, these purchases are categorized as “Business Services – Other Services,” and I’ve earned Amex points when buying them. However, several TPG readers have reported that Amex won’t count these purchases towards meeting spend requirements, so feel free to share your experiences.

Some people who have bought a lot of gift cards at once have also reported getting their account audited by American Express’s Financial Reviews department – especially when making the purchase using their Amex business credit cards (they are a higher risk to credit card companies than personal cards). Amex conducts financial reviews in an attempt to identify people who are likely to rack up huge charges and then default on the debt – something people who make suspiciously large Amex gift card purchases are prime suspects for since it’s like cashing in on your credit line without getting a cash advance fee.

However, I would never, ever, under any circumstances suggest that you do anything irresponsible or try to abuse this in any way because it won’t work, and you’ll end up ruining your relationship not only with Amex, but also possibly your entire credit report. Used legitimately and with consideration, though, 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: 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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  • laura taylor

    FatWallet is also offering 1% cash back. It’s my go-to cashback site. :)

  • Martin

    I think you can only purchase with an American Express card, not any credit other credit card right?

  • Juno

    Brian, do these GC have the pin feature to be used as debit? or can we use them to load up on BlueBird.. even Amazon payment accounts? Thanks.

  • Mark

    No pin on these… They are pretty universally accepted like a credit card though. Have had no problems buying gift or debit cards at drug stores with these.

  • Mark

    Or if you have a barclaycard, the rewards boost portal through them is offering 4%.

  • Juno

    Thanks. I would love to be able to load these to my BlueBird account and pay mortgage with them. And it beats buying these at the Grocery store for $6.95 for a $200 GC

  • Martin

    Yes, you probably can go online and generate a pin. However, gift cards are NOT treated as a bank linked debit card. BLDCs and GCs are NOT the same!!!

  • Mark

    That would be great however you can’t load these directly. Take them to your favorite CVS, purchase a one vanilla, then take that to walmart to load to BB.

  • Mark

    Most cards work, although read the caveats in the post.

  • Martin

    I don’t like AMEX and I don’t intent to buy their GCs with the Amex card. In the past, my GC purchases with other CC were never considered cash advances. I don’t expect that to change now with other banks.

  • Geoff

    TCB is pretty explicit that any card over $500 will NOT allow 2% rebate.

  • FlyingJoey

    Can I buy AmEx Gift cards and turn around and purchase VR or load their value to my BlueBird?

  • laura taylor

    I’m a noob, so please excuse the basic questions, but:

    - IF I used my Chase Marriott card to purchase an AmEx GC and IF Chase counts it as a cash advance, does that mean I won’t earn any points?

    Thanks!

  • Doug

    Amex giftcards load perfectly fine on Amazon, I do it all the time

  • Jason Seale

    I bought $5000 of this card per TPG’s suggestion. I went to a restaurant and paid my bill with this card. The server switched the card, gave me another card back with no value that looked identical and then cashed out my original card within hours! The restaurant manager said that I had no proof and therefore no recourse. BEWARE!!!

  • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

    Would these be considered “cash?” Could you potentially use these gift cards to purchase vanilla reload cards at CVS?

  • hobo05

    I think this cautionary tale teaches us to not use these gift cards for regular spend. Always cash them out since many don’t have any protections against fraud

  • weina

    if these AMEX gift card can load amazon payment, does it mean I can withdraw the money back to my bank acct? any limit? $1000/month?

  • weina

    but how to cash them out? buy vanilla from CVS with these gift card?

  • StL

    I assume Barclays sees this as a purchase and not a cash advance. So my Arrival card will earn points, yes?

  • Martin

    I don’t think you can. You can only pay with cash or a debit card linked to your bank account. Let VRs collect dust and die of. Bluebird goes down the drain as well…I will not be using it!

  • Martin

    I would never put more than $500 in a gift card for everyday use! BEWARE American Express seems to say you have no legal recourse or dispute rights if something happens to your gift card!

  • Martin

    People please read: You cannot buy VRs with a credit card or a gift card. You can only buy VRs with CASH or a DEBIT CARD LINKED to your bank account!!! Let it go!!!! Why would you pay to buy GCs and then use them to buy VRs and pay the fees again? Open a bank account to pay your bills!!!

  • ZFam

    How do you get around the $500 max cash back per gift card? TCB says gift card max is $500. Will you get cash back if you order 10 @ $500 a piece?

  • mike

    Yes.

  • Brenton Thomas

    Correct me if I’m wrong with either of these comments, but…

    be Frugal has a 3% rebate on the American Express GIft Cards
    http://www.befrugal.com/coupons/store/americanexpressgiftcards

    It looks like it may take a couple months, but for a $1000 Amex GC I have just under $30 pending.

    Also, I was able to call Chase re: my Ink Plus card and request that they lower the cash advance limit to $1. Hopefully this will prevent any accidents… I called Wells Fargo to request the same thing and they weren’t able to, so it must be a bank by bank issue.

  • Tony

    Does not seem to be working for me. Getting expired message.

  • GLG

    So now we have 5- 1,000 AMEX gift cards. What are the options for liquidating them? ie. BBird, Walmart, my banks, other ideas?? Thanks for any creative ideas.

  • Christopher

    Hi Brenton- just so I understand… Your reason for calling chase and lowering the cash advance limit to $1 is so that if you do any transactions in this “grey area” they will only be accepted if they appear as regular credit transactions, right?
    I have a UA MileagePlus card by chase and would like to use it for this to meet Bonus spend requirements but also don’t want it to count as a cash advance without me knowing.
    Thanks!

  • Kristen Northrup

    I’m looking for this on the boost portal and not seeing it….can you tell me how it was listed? Under gift cards?

  • Brenton Thomas

    That was my reason for calling Chase. However, I just received a Chase Marriott Visa and attempted to do the same thing and was unable. Apparently a personal card has the cash advance built in as a percentage of credit limit, but with a business card you can lower the cash advance and not the credit limit.

  • Arnold Carlson

    The discount code doesn’t work through the Barclayscard Rewards Boost portal or the TopCashBack portal.

    Through them you are only allowed up to $500 on each gift card purchased and the fees don’t disappear on the “place order” screen even though you’ve entered the discount code.

  • chuckcarpenter

    It looks like this code expired on April 23rd, not May 31st. Bummer. Any other codes for fee free?

  • rj123456

    I had a bunch of legitimate business expenses so I have been trying to buy Amex Gift cards over the past month – $3K/$5K/$5K/$1.9K/$3K*/$5K* but Amex is a real PITA to use. For every successful purchase I have had the purchase denied twice over.

    (*last two unsuccessful)

    Amex CSRs are the lamest, they merely repeat the line from the email message (usually “your address and other details must match the CC”). The latest insult was using the Amex order page’s own “One-time reorder” capability – obviously if the order went through previously, everything does match, but it was denied.

    Worse, Amex puts holds on your credit line. The last unsuccessful $3K order resulted in Amex putting TWO $3K temporary authorizations on the CC.

    Other lame things about GCs that is buried in the fine print is that they need to be registered before being used for an online purchase. Which is bizarre because they can drop out of my wallet and any one can call Amex and register them and start using them, but when I – the original purchaser of the GC – use it for an online order under the same name and shipping to the same address that the GC was sent to – the order is denied. And then Amex ties up the amount denied on the GC for – get this – 5 business days!

    Finally today I got denied for exceeding the purchase limits authorized for purchase. The CSR told me that the limit is $5K in 14 days – which is not true as I ordered $5K on each of two consecutive days.

    Great promo to get 6 pts / $ for spend that I don’t have to manufacture but the hoops Amex one goes through and the inept/unempowered customer service makes this a huge waste of time.

  • chuckcarpenter

    i don’t see that limit for each GC. It that a thing for TopCashBack? All I see is, “$5,000 limit on Consumer Gift Cards”.

  • Delta Segment Flyer

    Well I have buying VR all month with Amex GC and CC. It can still be done in places.

  • Bubba

    You can avoid this, by registering your gift card online. Then it is no longer anonymous and is tied back to you.

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