$0 Fees on Amex Gift Cards: Why Buying Them Might Make Sense

I just got an email from American Express that reminded me of the good old days: When American Express would offer 100% off Amex gift card fees and shopping portals would have the codes listed right under a large text highlighting 1 – 4% cash back. Oh, and I would have the premium shipping plan, which meant $0 shipping fees after the $99 was paid. Now shopping portals no longer offer cash back on Amex gift cards, making all of these promotions pointless. Or does it?

American Express gift cards $0 fees

In Why I Use Amex Gift Cards for Manufactured Spending, I explained how buying American Express gift cards was an efficient way to manufacture spend. That’s because while banks may decline $2,000+ worth of in-store purchases most of the time, that’s not the case with American Express gift card purchases – In my experience, bi-weekly $10,000 orders never once set off a security alert. In fact, I’ve even gone past my limit with Barclays a couple of times while ordering Amex gift cards.

Just this past week, I had to hold up the line at Safeway because my $3,000 Visa gift card purchase set off a fraud alert. After I got it straightened out by calling customer service and verifying the purchase via the automated system, I didn’t use the card again for the rest of the day because I didn’t want to set off any more alerts or draw more attention to my account.

I say all this to explain that if you still have the premium shipping plan and a $0 fee offer comes around, it might still make sense to buy American Express gift cards online. You can place one large order (up to $10,000 every two weeks) that won’t get declined, pay no extra fees and still be able to liquidate your cards via Visa gift card purchases without worrying about your transactions setting off a fraud alert. If you’re purchasing Visa gift cards anyway, this won’t add any extra costs to your gift card churning strategy – it will just make it easier to get large amounts done without dealing with interruptions from your card issuer.

My premium shipping plan has already expired and I don’t want to add extra fees to my gift card churning strategy, but I do miss the convenience of not having to deal with bank security alerts and seeing 20,000 miles post to my Barclay Arrival Plus account within days of placing my $10,000 Amex gift card order. If you’ve already paid for the $99 shipping plan, then you may find these $0 gift card promos to be a convenient option for churning large numbers of gift cards.

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Ariana Arghandewal


  1. I completely disagree. I don’t think it makes sense at all to do AGC purchases since most cards will only give you 1x points/cash and not to mention the effort to convert them to VGCs with the extra VGC costs which in most cases people don’t have easy ways to dump them. How is this even worth doing anymore? Unless you are trying to meet min spend which you sometimes have to pay some fees for convenience it doesn’t any sense as a MS vehicle.

    • For people who have the premium shipping plan and use a non-category bonus card (i.e. Barclay Arrival Plus) to buy Visa gift cards anyway, this makes it easier. Large AGC purchases don’t get declined, while small Visa gc’s purchases at drug and grocery stores do. Buying AGC’s and liquidating via Visa gc’s and money orders eliminates fraud alerts, making ms more efficient.

      It doesn’t involve any extra fees if there’s a coupon wiping out the $3.95 card fee and you have the premium shipping plan (which you’e hopefully attained before shopping portals pulled the plug on amex gift cards).

  2. Here in Dallas, Texas, it is hard to find any place that will accept AMEX gift cards. I found out the hard way.

  3. Ariana,

    Do you plan to keep your Barclay arrival plus after the card devaluation goes into effect? If not what card would you recommend?

  4. I buy them all the time. I have over $15K/month of “real” spending I use them for. Even at 1%, I’m still ahead a bit. They are also great for Costco spending (until next March).

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