April 22, 2013
Today only (Monday, April 22 2013), the cash back portal, TopCashBack, is offering 2.5% cash back when buy gift cards after clicking through to “American Express Prepaid and Gift Cards”. TopCashBack usually offers 1.5% cash back for American Express. A competing cash back site, BigCrumbs, currently offers 1.4% cash back.
Note that TopCashBack will run a one day special for GiftCardMall a week from now (Monday, April 29). On that day they will increase the GiftCardMall payout from 1.5% to 2%. See “Better than free manufactured spend” for thoughts about how to leverage these promotions.
This post was written yesterday, so I didn’t have a way to capture a screenshot showing the temporary 2.5% cash back rate. Instead, you will see below an expert artist rendering of what the screen may look like today:
- American Express gift cards (and prepaid cards) cannot be used as debit cards.
- Do not use Citibank cards to buy these gift cards as Citi is known to treat these purchases as cash advances (and will charge high fees). If you are unsure whether your bank will treat these purchases as cash advances, you can protect yourself by calling and asking for your cash advance limit to be reduced to zero (some banks won’t allow it to go all the way to zero, but at least you should be able to lower it to less than you plan to pay online).
- Don’t go overboard. If you buy tens of thousands of dollars of gift cards per month with one credit card, you are very likely to be targeted for a financial review.
- American Express has strict, but not clearly defined limits regarding how much you can buy per transaction. See “Learning Amex gift card rules the hard way.”
- To pay less in fees for Amex gift cards, buy the cards shown in the top-left corner of the Amex Gift card page. These cards can hold values up to $3000 each. By going with larger value cards, the shipping and fees become a smaller percentage of the total.
- You may be able to find Amex discount codes online to save on shipping or to waive gift card fees. TopCashBack, though, says “coupons that are not displayed on the TopCashback site, will nullify eligibility for cashback.” So, it is safer to go without discount codes.
- You can order a customized gift card with your name on it, and a custom $ amount, by scrolling to the bottom of the Amex page and looking for the tiny link to “Gift Cards” (under the YouTube Icon). See screenshots here: “Amex Gift Cards, this and that.”
- Don’t be surprised if it takes several months for cash back to become payable. I bought a $3000 gift card through TopCashBack in January. Within hours TopCashBack reported the transaction as pending (which was comforting), but 3 months went by before the cash back became payable.
- I can verify, from personal experience, that American Express does award miles / points when you use their credit cards to buy these gift cards. That may change at any time, though. So, go slow and check your statements regularly.