AMEX Gift Cards BigCrumbs Strategy – Free Money and Points

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Update 10/29/13 – Ensure you use a credit card that doesn’t add cash advance fees (see below). I’ve tested and confirmed that Barclaycard Arrival does not charge a CA fee.

Right now BigCrumbs is offering 2% cash back for American Express personal gift cards. I really like BigCrumbs because they have always been consistent and my success rate has been 100%. Although Topcashback has had higher cash back rates, I would always choose BigCrumbs over TCB because of its consistency. A 2% cash back for AMEX gift cards may not sound like a lot, but it can easily add up when you make a big purchase with the right credit card. Here is my AMEX gift cards BigCrumbs strategy to earn free money and points.

  • Sign up for BigCrumbs (my link) if you haven’t yet.
  • Click the AMEX gift cards link on the front page.

    AMEX BigCrumbs 2% Cash Back

    AMEX BigCrumbs 2% Cash Back

  • Click through the portal to activate the BigCrumbs tracking.
  • The largest personal gift card you can order is $3,000. Which credit card should you use? Almost any credit card you use will initiate a fraud alert and be denied. From my experience, business credit cards go through easier. I’ve ordered a $3K gift card with my AMEX SPG Business card without triggering any alerts. However, I would try to avoid AMEX credit cards because they could trigger a financial review. I’ve done $3K with no problem, but I would like to keep my big spending on AMEX at a minimum. Also, I would avoid Chase credit cards because there are reports of Chase charging a $150 cash advance fee. Seems like Chase cards are getting cash advance charges and AMEX cards are not. Barclaycard Arrival also reported not to get a cash advance according to Flyertalk
  • Likely CAs on:
    -Barclays (some cards, not Arrival)
    No Cash Advance Fees on:

    -Barclay Arrival (10/24)
    -Discover (10/18)
  • To get the best value, I would stick with the best non-category bonus spending credit cards. I used the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard to make the purchase. It instantly was denied, so I went to my Barclaycard login and was alerted of the purchase. I approved the purchase, and went back into AMEX gift cards to make the purchase again. It was then approved.
  • A $3,000 AMEX gift card will have a $3.95 fee. Shipping is $8.95, but you can sign up for free shipping for 3 months. According to the terms and conditions, you can cancel the shipping within 3 months by calling 1-877-297-4438.

    AMEX $3K gift card free shipping and $3.95 fee.

    AMEX $3K gift card free shipping and $3.95 fee.

To calculate the free cash back and points from this purchase, I would take the cash back and credit card points minus the fees.

  • $60 Cashback from Big Crumbs
  • $3003.95 @ 2.2X from Barclaycard Arrival = 6,668 points or $66.68
  • Minus $3.95 fee.
  • Total Profit = $60 + $66.68 – $3.95 = $122.73 profit!

The next step is to liquidate the $3K AMEX gift card. There are different methods to do this, but here are some tips:

  • Use the Amazon Payments 3-person method to liquidate $1,000 a month.
  • Buy Vanilla Reload Cards at CVS
  • Everyday Spend
  • Kiva short-term loans to get the money back within 5-6 months.
  • Load the Target AMEX Prepaid gift card and cash out at a local ATM for a small fee.
BigCrumbs 2% Cash Back Posted in 24 hours!

BigCrumbs 2% Cash Back Posted in 24 hours!

My method of choice is Amazon Payments because there are no fees. If you get your AMEX gift card now, you can send $1K end of October and another $1K at the beginning of November. You will barely have to float any funds in that case. That’s some gift card churning at its finest right there. Even if you buy Vanilla Reloads, you will still come out ahead by a good amount. That is basically my AMEX gift cards Bigcrumbs strategy to earn free money and points. If anybody has some other strategies or methods, please post below.

47 comments for “AMEX Gift Cards BigCrumbs Strategy – Free Money and Points

  1. Lively
    October 28, 2013 at 4:11 am

    FM is reporting cash advance fees if you use Chase cards. Is this still the case?

    • October 28, 2013 at 6:19 am

      I’ve heard you can call and get it waived. Lemme edit the post. Better safe than sorry then.

      • October 28, 2013 at 6:43 am

        Don’t use your Chase card. I got hit with a $150 cash advance fee
        And after numerous calls and emails they are NOT waiving it

        • October 28, 2013 at 7:13 am

          Thanks for the report. That is absurd that they won’t waive it!

  2. Jerry Mandel
    October 28, 2013 at 4:38 am

    With ALL new cards, call up to state you want to buy $X,XXX in gift cards for family and ask to have it unblocked.
    AMEX gift cards in grocery stores can only be loaded up to $500 and they cost more than $3.95. Any gift card for which no PIN can be obtained is of no value to me for recycling funds to pay off the credit cards. Same for Meta Bank and US Bank gift cards which work fine.

  3. Maury
    October 28, 2013 at 5:07 am

    I tried to buy VR cards with the Amex GC in two different CVS and they would not accept them. The only way I could liquidate is through Amazon Payments and Amex for Target.

    • October 28, 2013 at 6:45 am

      You can also liquidate by buying visa GCs from giftcardmall. Go through topcashback for an extra .5%

      • Devon
        October 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm

        We’re sure this works and Giftcardmall allows the purchase to go through? If so, the cards can then be loaded onto Bluebirds at Walmart I’m guessing since they have a PIN correct?

    • October 28, 2013 at 7:15 am

      Good to know!

  4. awg
    October 28, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Keep in mind, there is still an opportunity cost by liquidating through AP. Specifically, you give up the opportunity to earn 1,000 points/miles by using AP on a mileage earning card. Do be fair, you need to include the cost of liquidating the Amex Gift cards. This reduces your profit.

    • Gaurav
      October 28, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Why would you be passing up an opportunity cost? You would get the miles when you make the gift card purchase as opposed to when you use AP… your just shifting the point of earning.

    • October 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      Sorry, I’m not sure what you mean. I’m getting the points from my credit card from buying the AMEX gift card. I’m getting points and cash back at the same time. I didn’t calculate the cost of liquidation, but Amazon Payments would be $0 cost and Vanilla reloads would be 3.95 per 500.

      • David
        October 28, 2013 at 2:24 pm

        I think the above post means you lose the ability to charge $3K on your Arrival card through AP over 3 months. The net profit would only be the bigcrumbs cashback (-) AMEX GC fee.

        • October 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

          I see, true if you only have 2 accounts. Not if you have 3 🙂

      • awg
        October 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm

        You can buy a 3k amex gift card and get 3k miles and liquidate via AP, or you can just charge 3k via AP and get 3k miles even without the gift card so you really can’t count the $66.68 you get from arrival as you “could” get this just by charging 3k via AP in your arrival card. The net benefit is only $56.05 and NOT the $122 you claim.

        • October 28, 2013 at 6:37 pm

          That’s one way to see it. I use a third account for gift card liquidation only so I still do my normal 1K with whatever card

  5. jim
    October 28, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Buying amex gift cards with Citi aadvantage amex cards is big NO?are you sure there is cash advance fee?

    What about buying visa gift cards from giftcardmall?

    I have a 2500 bonus miles promo on my citi aadvantage amex card for online purchases and I think gift card purchase will count?

    • October 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      Don’t buy any prepaid cards with citi to be safe. I’ve done AP before and it was fine but not sure at the moment.

  6. Gaurav
    October 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Rom–you might want to reformat the list of cards. I think you mean to start a new category with “recently shown as…” but it shows up on the same line as CapOne so it looks like all the cards on the list including AmEx and Arrival are cards that charge cash advances.

    • October 29, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      Thanks. Fixed it!

      • Gaurav
        October 29, 2013 at 9:39 pm

        Have you tried your AmEx and been hit with the FR? I’m working on a minimum spend for a Plat Business card and wondering if I can charge 3k to the card…

  7. anon
    October 31, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Since BC hasn’t begun paying out since they brought back Amex, nobody is sure if >$500 cards will pay. Granted they don’t have any fine print disallowing them, but we have zero recourse if they try and screw us (and it’s not an insignificant sum for those of us who have done >$20k in GCs!)

    • October 31, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      The transactions have posted, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t pay.

  8. Erik
    November 2, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Why not go through the Business side and purchase amounts >$3000? Also, how often can you churn the 90 day free shipping trial?

  9. HikerT
    November 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    I see you cut and pasted from the FT wiki. If you are going to do that, why remove the information about the 2 deep referral payout? If the goal is to educate your readers on optimal strategy, I don’t see how the 2 deep referral angle can be ignored. We are not talking about a one time $5 or $10 for referring someone, but rather a lifetime payout on all purchases, currently 0.0175% x 2 = 0.35% (but has been as high as 0.5%). That’s a lot to give up.

    • November 3, 2013 at 11:01 am

      I’ll update the post. I originally posted the post before FT published some more info about CA.

  10. Shane
    November 3, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Has anyone tried using a USbank Card? Chase dinged me with a 3% fee on my first purchase awhile back and while they wouldn’t remove the fee they gave me 5,000 UA miles. I also have had duccess cashing these out at CVS for VRs and OneVanilla’s and at other locations. This works better with “trained” cashiers, once I work with alot. It also seems to work better when I split a transaction between two cards. Cashier checks ID and card number for the first and then you swipe the AMEX for $3000 and they don’t seem to pay to much attention to the second swipe. Last question how many of these a month are people getting. I got a $3k and then AMEX’s site was declining my last two attemtps, had to use my wife’s card to get a second one. Definetly being denied on AMEX’s side as my cards all say they aren’t blocking. Customer service at AMEX can’t tell me why, I have them digging for a specific reason. I was a little surprised that after one purchase they would be immediately blocking a second a week later.

    • November 3, 2013 at 11:05 am

      Thanks for the info about split transactions. My plan is to order one a month. I’ll let you know if I have problems.

  11. Gaurav
    November 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Rom, do you knowi if you can get a PIN for these cards and deposit them directly to bluebird at WM? Thanks.

    • Simon
      November 17, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      I do not believe so. Amex does not operate on a PIN system at all, only signatures. This is the reason why their prepaid cards do not need to have an option to set a PIN by law, unlike mastercard and visa.

      • Gaurav
        November 17, 2013 at 10:08 pm


    • November 18, 2013 at 6:57 am

      You cannot assign pin to Amex gc.

  12. Toni
    January 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Hey Rom,

    Do you know what the limits are on these bad boys? Like, if I go through TCB or Big Crumbs, can I only earn so much cash back before they will not award anymore? Is there some kind of monthly limit. I swear I’ve read somewhere that there is, but I can’t find it anywhere! Thanks!


    • January 11, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      TCB only let’s you buy $500 at a time. I would rather buy at bigcrumbs. The cb rate is only 1.2 right now but may still be worth it on a 3K order. No limit for bigcrumbs.

      • Toni
        January 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

        It’s only $500? I know that TCB says that at the bottom, but I ordered a $3000 gc and it shows all $60 as pending. Will that change once it’s confirmed and drop down?

  13. purcitron
    June 9, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    just tried sending amazon pmnt using amex GC from ofismaks… “payment failed”.
    any advice please?

    • June 10, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      It might have authorized your card for $1. Try doing $1 less, or put in the wrong expiration date first to add to account and go back and change date to the correct one.

      • purcitron
        June 11, 2014 at 9:56 am

        i think its the $1.
        does that $1 never go away?
        solution is to enter wrong expire date & then immediately change to correct date & sent payment?

        • June 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm

          Yes should work

          • purcitron
            June 12, 2014 at 10:47 am

            any idea what i can do with the orphan $1 i have left on the card?

          • June 14, 2014 at 8:59 pm

            Buy an amazon gc? Not sure

  14. JOHN
    June 30, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    On the orphan dollar remaining: I deauthorized the card with AP and a week later used it at starbucks as
    partial payment on a discounted item. It’s cleaning up the little crumbs…

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