American Express Gift Cards – Not as Great As You Would Think


Awhile back I received a $100 American Express Gift card from work, and I thought this was going to be awesome.  After reading around a bit, I soon realized this card is not as versatile as you would think it would be.  Why?  Not all online stores accept this, and the same can be said for retail stores as well.

Plus, there are restrictions on it as well.  You can’t use it with Ebay, or Paypal.  I tried using this on ZipZoomFly, and it did not work, but it did extract my funds?  When this happens, it is called “pending transactions”.  After 6 business days, my funds were relocated back onto my gift card, but I still felt shafted that I had to wait so long.

However, I can confirm this card works on NewEgg and so far which is great.  The only major caveat to the gift card is how you want to do transactions.  Say you have $10 left on the card, and you buy a $30 sweater.  What you are supposed to do is pay the cashier $20 first, and then use the gift card to pay the remaining balance.  Not all retailers do split transactions like this, so this is a pain.  I guess what American Express wants to happen is for you to use the card as much or as little as you can with enough money left over that you just toss it.

See the complaints on the gift card here.  You will see it is embarrassing to whip out the gift card only to have it declined in your face.  Ooops!

Posted on March 15, 2008, in Life, Money and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. The Office Newb

    Thanks for the heads up! I just got one of these from work myself and didn’t even consider that some retailers (online or otherwise) wouldn’t accept them.

  2. Not getting that card for sure

  3. Usually the online issue is because the merchant can’t verify the address of the card holder. Most temp cards use the bank’s address and, since that doesn’t match with what the orderer put into the form, the fraud protection the site uses will raise a flag and the order will cancel out.

    I had the same problem with mall gift cards.

  4. I’ve received a few of those Amex gift cards over the years in different denominations.

    I never had a problem using every last penny on them, but it was a bit of a pain to keep track of all the purchases, returns and balance amounts.

  5. So, how do you use it to purchase items on I received one of these cards and I thought I’d buy something I’ve wanted for quite a while on newegg, but they ask for the cardholder name as well as the billing address. Well, I used amex as the cardholder and my personal address as the billing address, and the order went through only to be canceled as soon as it was processed. I called amex and the customer service lady tried to make me look stupid and say “oh yeah, that’s for the CREDIT CARD.”

    Amex is pathetic.

  6. I used my name, and my own billing address I believe.

    It went through, and I used it under credit card. It should work. I even did the live chat with newegg support and the guy said it would work, which it did at the time.

  7. Sometimes you might need to sign up your card on the website provided by amex. I had to do that for a online purchase once.

  8. Bookmarked your site. Thanks for all the good reading material. I really enjoyed it!

  9. u can use those shits on paypal, u have to select credit card for ur amex gift card, and makesure u activate the amex gift card by calling amex via phone and so ur name and address will appear on the card record when a merchant looks up the card, that way the merchant will see ur billing address and gift card info are a mach. That is how u can use a amex gift card on paypal, and that is upmost thing to do if u plan to shop online with a gift card in general makesure u activate it, and ur name and address are on record with the gift card company.

  10. I got a bunch of these cards this year as a gift. I never realized how limited they were. The funny thing is I’ve always had issues with AMEX. Had a terrible problem with them a few years ago concerning some lost travelers checks. Raveshaw, while I’m not certain, I think if they have your address already on record with a previous CC then they’ll take the gift card. At least I hope that is the case.

  11. The easiest thing to do is use them to buy gasoline. Not all gas stations take gift cards for pay-at-the-pump purchases, but those that do are able to check the remaining balance on you card and will authorize the gasoline purchase up to that amount. You can also check the balance yourself, and then go inside the station and prepay for gasoline in the exact amount left on the card.

  12. Yeah this card SUCKS big time – I have been embarassed repeatedly trying to make it work. I recommend NOBODY every BUY IT!!

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