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$0 Fees on American Express Gift Cards Through 5/11

With both the TopCashBack and the Barclay RewardsBoost portals offering generous payouts, it’s a good time to buy American Express gift cards. To sweeten the deal, American Express is waiving the $3.95 purchase fee with promo code FPMOM. The code is good through May 11, 2014, as part of a Mother’s Day promotion.

Barclay Rewardsboost portal

Keep in mind that if your shopping portal of choice does not list the above code, you may not be eligible for cash back if you use it anyway. The code is currently listed on the Barclay RewardsBoost page, though not on the TopCashBack page. It’s also provided by BigCrumbs, though the payout is comparatively measly at 1.25%.

Regardless of the waived fees, buying American Express gift cards at the current payout is a great way to manufacture spend and generate extra cash. Taking card fees out of the equation, the maximum $5,000 purchase would result in 30,000 miles from Barclays if you use your Arrival Plus card (equivalent to $300 in travel credits or $150 in statement credits towards other purchases), while you would be out of pocket just $5.95 – $8.95 for shipping. You can eliminate this expense altogether by signing up for a free trial of the Amex Premium Shipping plan.

You would then use the card to purchase Simon Mall Visa or OneVanilla gift cards, load those onto Bluebird or cash out via Walmart money orders. This would incur fees of $2.95-$3.95 per $500, depending on the card. Walmart money orders would incur another $0.25-$0.90 cents per $1,000. You could also unload $1,000 worth of American Express gift cards free of charge via Amazon Payments. If you do buy Visa/OneVanilla gift cards, you can use some of these gift cards to pay your bills via Evolve Money.

Disclosure: I will receive a commission if you sign up for the Barclay Arrival card using the links in this post. TopCashBack pays out a small commission when you use my link to register and earn $10 in rewards. I appreciate your support, regardless of whether you use my links or not.

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Ariana Arghandewal

16 Comments

  1. What I learned today is that if you use the AMEX gift card to fund the $1,000 Amazon payment, it won’t go through. After completing the payment, I received an email from Amazon telling me the payment “failed,” with a link to the help page on their website. Certainly not very helpful information. I called customer service, who advised me that since Amazon needs a $1 processing fee for the transaction, I couldn’t send the $1,000, but I could send $999. I was told that this is the case for gift cards only, not credit card funded payments. This doesn’t make sense. Why would there be a fee for a gift card and not a credit card funded payment? I have never read of this before. Is Amazon starting to charge fees? Has anyone else had this experience?

    • Teri – I think what happens is that when you register the AMEX gift card Amazon places a $1 temporary authorization on the card. When you send $1000 it fails because of the temporary $1 hold. A lot of people get around this by setting the AMEX gift card expiration date to the wrong date initially and then correct it just before they send a payment. You should check your GC balance online at AMEX to see what it shows.

    • Sorry for the confusion Terri. Mark, thanks for providing Teri with that tip.

  2. There’s one thing I’ve been wondering about Amex gift cards. Let’s say for my own credit card, I add an authorized user who has a different address than me. If the authorized user orders Amex gift cards, then can they be delivered to my authorized user’s address?

    • I don’t see why not. After all, these are gift cards and they would just assume they’re being sent to a different address as a gift. However, the billing address your AU provides must match the one on your account (aka yours).

  3. Beware in New Jersey!!! Simon Malls only sell Amex Gift Cards. Walmart will not load One Vanilla onto Bluebird or sell you Money orders w/ One Vanilla. I’ve tried. Also, the ATM’s in Walmart are different compared to the ATM’s I’ve seen on hacking sites. You cannot load Bluebird w/ these ATM’s in New Jersey. So, don’t get stuck w/ a boatload of Amex Gift Cards and no way to cash out. I’ve also heard that Target has changed their policy w/ Loading Amex for Target w/ Amex Gift Cards. I will be going to Target to test this weekend. New Jersey is really cracking down on MS.

    • Thanks for the warning, David. I’ll be sure to include this disclaimer in future posts. As for the Target policy, my local store (Northern California) has adopted this policy as well.

    • Target hasn’t changed any policy – you were always likely to have problems with those who say “can’t load/buy cards with gift cards”. So it was your ability to find cashiers who didn’t care or didn’t know to make it work. Its been hit and miss for me for a long time, so much so that I never use my AFT card any more. And then you still have to cash out.

      Amex gift cards are being touted as if they are the replacement to VRs. Not unsurprisingly, noobs are getting hit with cash advance fees, and finding it much more difficult and time consuming to cash out. Reality is if you’re a noob, or a marginal MSer, you shouldn’t play this technique as a lot of moving parts where things do go wrong (and they DO go wrong).

      • In my case, it was a policy change confirmed by two cashiers. Amex vr’s aren’t’ a replacement for vr’s, but since the cost of ms has increased for some, this is a way to off-set fees. As with anything related to points/miles, if you’re not organized you shouldn’t attempt this in large quantities.

  4. It’s very hard for me to buy visa gc with amex gc. I don’t want to be stuck with amex gc. Most places ask to see your ID when buying gc. Well the AMEX gc does not have any name on it. I bet you’re swiping the amex gc yourself but like I said I haven’t found a cashier that doesn’t ask for an ID buying $500 visa gc. I guess you can buy smaller increments but that really would be a lot of work.

    • They do check for ID and when I hand it over and explain “this is a prepaid card” they stall and then process it anyway. To these cashiers,the issue is when the name on the card/id don’t match up. When there is no name on the card to match it to, they usually don’t object. I’ve had just one cashier ever turn me down.

      • I noticed that the Arden Fair shopping mall in Sacramento (which is not a Simon Mall) sells Visa gift cards up to $500 issued by “Sunrise Banks, NA” for $3.00. Does anyone know whether a pin can be set on these and loaded on to a bluebird card at Walmart?

        • I’m glad you brought this up, Ted. According to this FT thread, they are PIN enabled. Walmart carries these as well, along with a line of Visa gift cards issued by University National Bank which are not PIN enabled.

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