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

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(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!)

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.  And 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:

Pay no fees to order your Gift Card online between 16 September and 31 December 2013.
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 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.

These are the main ‘miles and points’ credit and charge cards which require a four-figure minimum spend to trigger the bonus and which may now be more attractive to you than they once were:

Amex Gold – 20,000 Membership Rewards points bonus (20,000 Avios) – £2,000 spend in three months – review

Amex Platinum – 30,000 Membership Rewards points bonus (30,000 Avios) – £2,000 spend in three months – review

BA Premium Plus Amex – 18,000 Avios – £3,000 spend in three months – review

SPG Amex – 10,000 SPG points (10,000 Avios) – £1,000 spend in three months – review

 Our full credit card directory can be found here.

Comments (70)

  • 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)?