Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Hit your Amex card sign-up bonus by buying FEE-FREE Amex gift cards

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I have written before about the new range of American Express gift cards.  They were not, to be honest, fantastic value.

However, they are now looking VERY INTERESTING if you have an American Express spending target to hit on a new credit card.  If you don’t have an Amex card with a spend target to hit, this might be a good time to apply for one!

Here is the official site for Amex gift cards.

Amex Gift Card

And here is the special offer that is running until the end of the year:

For Gift Cards purchased online between 16 September and 31 December 2013, no Purchase Fee or Delivery Fee will be charged. Other fees, limits and restrictions apply. To participate in the promotion order your Gift Cards at gift.americanexpress.co.uk and enter the code GCNF1 where prompted at the point of purchase. Then click on Redeem to process the order. This offer is only applicable to online purchases. You may not purchase more than five (5) Gift Cards in one transaction. The offer is available in the UK only.

What this means is that you do not pay the ‘per card’ purchase fee or postage.  You are effectively buying Amex gift cards for face value.  The standard purchase fee on a £100 gift card is £4.45, so this is a substantial saving.

Amex accepts Amex (doh!) plus Visa and MasterCard for the purchase of these cards.  The transfer almost certainly goes through as a ‘purchase’ rather than a cash advance, because Amex would need to disclose it otherwise.

You will only start paying a fee after 12 months.  If there still a balance on the card after 12 months, you will pay a £1.50 monthly fee.  It is highly unlikely you won’t have spent the balance by then, though.

The most obvious use of this promotion is to basically bring forward spending on your Amex card, in order to hit a time-limited sign-up bonus on a new credit card.  If you would struggle to spend £2,000 in three months to get the 20,000 point (=20,000 Avios) Amex Gold bonus, for example, you can simply buy the difference in Amex gift cards.

The cards can be used for normal spending at almost everywhere that accepts Amex cards.  If you end up with a small residual balance of a few pounds, the easy way to cash it out is to buy an Amazon gift certificate (via the Head for Points affiliate link if you like!) and add it to your Amazon account as a credit against future purchases.

It also seems that Amex will ‘cash out’ the spare balance on your gift card.  Note that they will NOT cash out to your original payment card, only by cheque or by a bank transfer.  What a disaster 🙂  Cashing out your balance is free as per the rules:

You may also request the “Redemption” of the Gift Card Balance free of charge. “Redemption” is a payment made by us, American Express, to you, as the Cardholder, of an amount equivalent to the Gift Card Balance. The conditions for Redemption are the following:

  • During the term of this Agreement. During the term of this Agreement, that is, from the date of purchase of the Gift Card until the ‘valid thru’ date, you may request Redemption of the whole or part of the Gift Card Balance by calling American Express Customer Service.
  • Within the 6 years from the ‘valid thru’ date. Following the ‘valid thru’ date and within a period of six (6) years thereafter, you may request Redemption of the whole Gift Card Balance by calling American Express Customer Service.
  • No Redemption after 6 Years. We reserve the right to refuse a Redemption request made more than six (6) years after the ‘valid thru’ date.

Any Redemption is subject to our completing and being satisfied with the outcome of applicable anti-money laundering, fraud and other illegal activity checks (“Successful Redemption”). We will only process your Redemption via cheque or bank transfer to a UK bank account, at our option. This process could take up to thirty (30) working days.

Note that Amex gift cards can only be used in the UK.  There is also no mention of the ability to use them in ATM’s, so you should assume that you cannot do this.

Despite these restrictions, though, this is a very interesting offer indeed.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

50,000 points bonus until 2nd October – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (70)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • thesaver79 says:

    So one could buy 3V cards, use them to buy Amex gift cards and then cash in the money?

  • Martin says:

    I tried buying a single £100 Amex Gift card just now with my MBNA-issued bmi Amex.
    The transaction was declined, and when I tried with the bmi Visa it was also declined. After calling MBNA and getting them to allow the payment I tried one last time and was declined again.

    This is the first time that my bmi card has ever been declined after over a year of using it as my main card. Has anyone successfully bought these gift cards with an MBNA-issued card?

  • Roger says:

    Have any purchasers of the certificates checked their MR accounts to see whether MRs are indeed earned for purchases with relevant AmEx cards (or Avios with BA AmEx cards)?

    Thanks.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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