(EDIT: A reader report in March 2015 suggests that gift card purchases are no longer earning points. This was only one incident but be aware!)
American Express has launched its pre-paid gift cards in the UK. Take a look at their website.
Basically, you can now (in theory) walk into a WH Smith, Sainsbury or Superdrug and a buy a £20, £30, £50 or £100 Amex gift card. The fee payable on top is £2.45, £2.95, £3.45 and £4.45 respectively.
This opens up an option if you are struggling to meet the minimum spend requirement on a new credit card to trigger the sign-up bonus. One option I have mentioned in the past is buying supermarket gift vouchers, which have no fee attached. However, it will take you a while to work through (say) £500 of Waitrose vouchers.
Whilst these Amex gift cards carry a fee, you can obviously spend through them more quickly than you could with ‘store specific’ gift vouchers. The 4.45% fee on the £100 card is not cheap, but you may consider £22 a fair price to pay to get £500 of spend through your card.
These cards cannot be topped up. The biggest problem with them is getting the available balance down to exactly £0 to clear them out! What I recommend, when you are down to the last couple of quid, is to order yourself an Amazon gift voucher.
You can buy these for any amount (pounds and pence, so if you had £2.96 on your gift card it is OK to order a £2.96 evoucher) and you can pre-load your Amazon account with them immediately, even if you aren’t buying anything now. The money is there to spend next time you visit Amazon.
Note that you can get similar gift cards from MasterCard and Visa – even Tesco sells them. However, they tend to cap out at £50 which makes the fee disproportionately more expensive for buying large amounts.
(If are struggling to meet the minimum spend on a credit card to get the bonus, also look at this post from Friday. You can buy HMV or Waterstones gift vouchers at a 20% discount, which should be ebay’able for 90% of face value.)