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American Express Gift Card Explained

american-express-gift-cardThe American Express gift card is one of the most popular bank issued gift cards, second only to the Visa Gift Card. The gift card can be purchased at participating banks and at drug and grocery stores in denominations of $25, 50, 100 and 250. They can also be purchased online here in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $200, $500, $700, $1000, $2000 and $3000 (subject to a shipping charge, in addition to the purchase fee).

Below are the most frequently asked questions about the American Express Gift Card:

1. Can I add more funds to the American Express Gift Card?
No, you cannot add more money to the American Express Gift Card. Once the original value on the card is used up, the card becomes worthless. For a reloadable bank issued gift card, you can buy a Reloadable Visa Gift Card.

2. What fees come with the American Express Gift Card?

Like most bank issued gift cards, the American Express Gift Card comes with fees, including a purchase fee of about $4.95 payable at the time of purchase. There is also a monthly service fee of $2 that is charged after 12 months of purchase. This is better when compared to the Visa Gift Card service fees, which are typically charged after 7 months of purchase and can be as much as $4.95. In addition, if your card is lost or stolen, American Express will replace any available funds still remaining on the card but will charge you a replacement fee of $5.95.

3. Can I use the American Express Gift Card to make purchases online?
Yes, but before you do that, you need to register the card with American Express (add your name and billing address to the card). This is necessary because the online merchant will then be able to match the name and billing address you provide for your order with the name and billing address on file for your visa gift card (just like they do for credit cards). Should they be unable to match your information, your card may be rejected. For more on how to use the American Express Gift Card online, click here.

If you are trying to use your American Express Gift Card on eBay or link to PayPal, that may be more challenging. With regards to PayPal, it depends on whether PayPal requires you to go through their verification process. If they do, then you will need access to your transaction details. American Express allows you to view your transaction details online if you register your card. You will need the special code PayPal sends to your card to be able to successfully complete the verification. If you are successful at viewing your gift card transactions, then you will be able to link to PayPal, otherwise, you are out of luck. For more on linking American Express Gift Card and other bank issued gift cards to PayPal, click here.

4. Can I use the American Express Gift Card if the purchase amount is over the gift card limit?
Yes, you can but only in person at certain retail location (it depends on the merchant policy). Before you do this, you should tell the cashier that you are going to be using two forms of payment for the transaction. You should then give the cashier your American Express Gift Card first, and ask the cashier to charge the full amount on the card (which means you have to know exactly how much you have on the card). You can then present another form of payment (cash or credit card, or another American Express Gift Card, if allowed) to pay for the balance.

This process is much more challenging to do online since many online merchants do not support “split payments”.

5. Can I use the American Express Gift Card outside the United States?
No, you can only use the American Express Gift Card in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands where American Express Cards are accepted.

6. Is there an age limit to who can buy or use the American Express Gift Card?
No, there is no age limit on who can buy or use the American Express Gift Card.

7. Where can I buy an American Express Gift Card?
For a list of locations that sell the American Express Gift Card, click here. You can also buy them online here.

8. How do I check the balance on my American Express Gift Card?

To check the balance on your American Express gift card, call 1-877-AXP-GIFT or click here to check your balance online.

9. Can I get cash from the ATM with my American Express Gift Card?
No, you cannot get cash from the ATM with your American Express Gift Card.

10. Can I use the American Express Gift Card for recurring bill payments?
No, you cannot use the American Express Gift Card to for recurring bill payments, such as magazine subscription, phone payments or online game subscriptions.

You should also consider Visa Prepaid Gift Cards, which can be used anywhere Visa Debit Cards are accepted.


Reloadable Visa Gift Card Explained


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  1. Katie

    when i checked online to see how much i had on the card, it said i had $0.00. that is quite impossible, for i had never used the card before. Two questions: When does American express start taking money from the card, and what are avaliable funds?

  2. richard

    AE gift cards do not work. They claim a system switchover caused the problems, but had me wait a week, then another week, and they now say the 2 cards I have will never work; but they will send me 2 other cards that I should get in 7 to 10 days. These cards were bought and paid for and now they want to use that money for at least 21 days before it is available. I thought that was a crime.

  3. Lisa Remington-Smith

    I rec’d an American Express rewards gift card and the code didn’t work. AE customer service did nothing to help with the problem and the code was issued by them. There are some companies one can always count on for Excellent customer service. This ‘was’ one of them:-(
    Williamsburg, VA

  4. Marie

    AMEX gift cards are the worse!! Do not buy them!! My son has one and tried to use it on Itunes (after he registered it with AMEX). Well, it did not work. But lo and behold, AMEX took money off of the card anyway! The card was for $25, now there is $15 on the card and no purchase has been made. The rep at AMEX said the $ should be back on the card in 7 days, we will see….All I can say is never again!!

  5. Amy, NYC

    AmEx has quite a scam going with their so-called “gift cards” and the so-called “customer service” reps who do nothing but repeat “THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO…THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO…” Apparently it is typical for online purchases NOT to go through and for AmEx to claim it’s due to a problem on the merchant’s end. Several times Ive had a merchant tell me no, they just never got the authorization from AmEx. So the funds disappear off the gift card for SEVEN BUSINESS DAYS at a shot. As Richard mentioned, AmEx is just using that money themselves and fraudulently claiming they cant release the funds back to the “gift” card. As we all know, “THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO” is nonsense; merchants can override on both sides. AmEx is just interested in taking people’s money, not in providing any financial or customer service. Disgusting.

  6. ERW

    Just got off the phone with AMEX trying to ascertain why a gift card, given to me for my 75th birthday, (by my grandkids) was declined at a retailer this morning.
    According to the Customer Service Rep (a) it had never been activated (reminded them – gift cards are “activated” when they are sold — so we went to (b) card was not “properly” sold. I’ve given this $25 scam all the time I’m going to give it. I’m too old to waste my time on any Con Artist. My grandkids are out the $29.95 that AMEX charges for putting people through all this hassle.

  7. juni

    Well guys I haven’t tried AMEX yet so can not comment. But this post definitely explains AMex gift cards. I would want to try it. You can go for Candles as good gift option. Buy it from veria on discount and enjoy the festival season. It has a very smooth purchase process you all will enjoy.

  8. George

    Hi,I purchased an american express gift card and the balance is too small to pay the subcribtion fee with paypal:how can I add more money to the gift card?

  9. Evanko

    I bought these for my sons at Christmas, when they tried to use them, it declined the payment, and said that they were lacking the funds… I called the service reps and they said that there was nothing they could do…now I’m out 100 bucks….DO NOT BUY!

  10. Elissa

    You know how it says in question 5 that you can’t use your gift card out of the states. I did! I went to Ireland for a vacation and i had a $200 dollar gift card from the money I had saved up for this trip. I brought along a lot of Euros just in case I couldn’t use the card. I went to a shop in Dublin and bought 3 things for about 50 Euro.

  11. Elissa

    on the card. How am i allowed to do that when it states that you cannot use your card outside the states, the Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico?

  12. its money

    I love these cards works every time and u can get cash real easy off of them just( remember no hassel returns) u will get cash back

  13. not happy

    I got a $25 amex card, it didn’t work online, there was no option when I called to add my name and address so it would work online, although it did give the balance, which was $4 less, although I’ve never bought anything with it. Never using these again. Go with Vanilla Visa.

  14. George

    I recieved one as a gift from my boss, tried using it a month after I got it. “No value”!!! Call American Express and was told there is no value and possibly never been activated. An Indian woman who answer the call kept telling “The card is no use, you need to talk to your boss and have your boss call us” give me a freaking break!!!!! Don’t you understand!!! I also saw many posts on the internet with the same problem. Either the merchant or Amex cheat, knowing people will not go back to embarss the giver.

  15. Cait

    I received a $100 dollar card just this past week from reviewing a website. I went to get some groceries today and use it, thank goodness I brought cash as a back up. The card didn’t work, so i went to my bank and asked if they could pull the cash off they said no. I am going to go try an online order, but I fear the same thing will happen to me as described above. What a rip. at least it’s no major loss to me, rather a huge disappointment. I will never use AE again, nor recommend it.

  16. Anoymous

    Hi Amex 25$ gift cards costs at least 29 dollars
    That’s why you were charged more

  17. MDW

    To Get through the verification on paypal with my amex card, i just included Amex Bank of Canada in the address, and it worked to get it verified, Hope this helps someone.

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