Many Amex Cards No Longer Earn Points on Gift Card Purchases

Aug 4, 2019

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American Express has long been known as the strictest of the major credit card issuers, especially when it comes to any perceived abuse of the Membership Rewards program. The terms and conditions of every Amex credit card state that Amex has the right to take back your points or shut down your account if it believes you attempted to game the system, and Amex has made good on this threat a number of times over the years.

A frequent target of Amex crackdowns has been gift card purchases. Many people buy gift cards (to be used eventually at stores they frequent) to help meet a minimum spending requirement, but Amex has explicitly forbidden this practice for a while. Now, Doctor of Credit is reporting that the prohibition on gift cards has been expanded to regular everyday points earning. Many Amex cards now feature a section in their terms and conditions describing what constitutes an “eligible purchase” for the purpose of earning points. The screenshot below was taken from the American Express® Gold Card and clearly indicates that purchasing a gift card does not count as an eligible purchase, and therefore won’t earn any points.

The good news is that this change doesn’t appear to be affecting all Amex cards. In addition to the American Express® Gold Card, it has affected the Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card From American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which are both showing gift card exclusions for everyday spending. But The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card are not. It’s possible that Amex is adding this restriction to specific cards they felt were being abused (especially the 4x bonus categories on the Amex Gold), but there’s a good chance we will see these terms and conditions rolled out to more cards in the near future.

After many years of offering increasing bonuses and perks to attract new customers, card issuers are changing their approach and focusing more on attracting and retaining customers who will be valuable in the long term. You absolutely should not buy gift cards on an Amex to meet your minimum spending requirement, but if you frequently buy gift cards for other reasons it might be time to start looking for a different card to put these purchases on. Be sure to check out TPG’s list of top cards for everyday spending and best cards for grocery purchases if you need some new options in your wallet.

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