American Express is tough to manufacture spend. It is not as tough as finding a good deal in New York City, that is the toughest. Using any American Express card or the good old American Express gift cards when we were able to earn cash back, is the most difficult because they lack a PIN for us to unload quickly and easily. I still have not maximized the cash back from BigCrumbs or TopCashBack. It was late in my game where I added the Fidelity American Express card that nets 2% add the cash back portal rate, and it was almost doubling your cash back. Now that these gift cards are on again off again multiple times with cashback, I am going to focus on acquiring as many as I can when it is available.
The easiest solution for me was unloading the prepaid card to pay my tuition. I would overpay, and while the fees ate into the rebate, I was still coming out ahead. Nowadays, I am still paying my tuition with a prepaid card, but not at the same velocity. I have to use a 5% card otherwise this venture would not be worthwhile and pay $487.80 every time because of the 2.5% “convenience” fee which comes out to a smooth $500.
My next favorite solution to unloading American Express cards is gift card churning when vendors do no put a test charge. I like that a lot. It allows me to do it in one try and move along. If there is a test charge, it stops me from being efficient and unloading the card in one stop. It’s not the worst, since there are point of sales that can automatically deduct the balance of the card, but I want to be one and done.
Finally, my third and latest way to using an American Express gift card is to use it through PayPal. It’s fairly quick and painless now that PayPal has the feature right before checking out.
When portal payouts are not available, there are still American Express SecurePay cards that can be found fee free every now and then. With that, you could easily double dip, once to purchase the card and then earn some portal points. I have also seen a few American Express Serve cards with a low, $2.95 activation fee. If I use it as a one time use only card, this will keep the cost basis lower.