Using Amazon Payments to Spend Gift Cards

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I’ve written before about using Amazon Payments to help meet the minimum spending to get the sign-up bonus on a credit card.  You can send $1,000 a month using a credit card, without any fees, from one person to another.  So this is a great way to meeting minimum spending requirements on a credit card!

Many folks were upset when I first posted about Amazon Payments, but I don’t see why Million Mile Secrets readers shouldn’t know about it.

However, a reader recently asked if it was possible to use Amazon Payments to empty the balance on his gift cards.

Amazon Payments Gift Cards 10

Using Amazon Payments With Gift Cards

But why would you want to use Amazon Payments with gift cards?

Perhaps you have Visa, American Express, or MasterCard gift cards with small balances.  Or you mistakenly bought gift cards instead of Vanilla Reload cards.  Or perhaps you buy gift cards with your:

  • Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus at Office Supply stores and earn 5X points
  • American Express Premier Rewards Gold card at grocery stores to earn 2X points
  • Chase Freedom to max out the 5X bonuses

The only thing better than 1,000 points a month is 5,000 points a month.

To be clear, buying a gift card with a credit card and then using Amazon Payments to empty the balance on that gift card takes a lot more time than just using the credit card directly with Amazon Payments.

You also have to keep adding gift cards (see step 2 below) to your Amazon Payments account, and the constant addition of cards could be a red flag to Amazon.  As always, do what you’re comfortable with.  There will always be someone doing something crazier than what you do to earn miles and points!

 Amazon Payments & Gift Cards

Read this post first if you’re not familiar with Amazon Payments.

Step 1 – Register Your Gift Card

You usually have to register your gift card online before you can use it online or with Amazon Payments.  Registering your card is fairly easy – just go the web address at the back of the gift card and enter your zip code and in some cases your name.

Step 2 – Add Your Gift Card to Amazon Payments

See the very clear directions by Frequent Flyer University on how to add a gift card to Amazon Payments.

Step 3 – Use Amazon Payments with Your Visa, MasterCard, and American Express Gift Card

Here’s where it gets tricky.

When you add *some* gift cards to Amazon Payments, there will be a temporary authorization of $1 on the card.  This means that you won’t be able to use the entire balance immediately until the temporary authorization falls off.

For example, if you add a $100 American Express gift card to Amazon Payments, but there is a $1 temporary authorization, your transaction will be declined if you attempt to send $100 using that gift card via Amazon Payments.

The best option (to me) is to wait a a few days until the temporary authorization falls off and then use the gift card.  You can see the authorization when you log into the website at the back of your gift card.

If you’re the impatient type and want to get everything done in one go, Frequent Flyer University suggests using an incorrect card expiration date.  This doesn’t feel comfortable to me, so I’ve never done it.  But it could be useful for some.

However, Amazon Payments doesn’t put a temporary authorization on ALL types of gift cards – just certain types.  Here’s my experience with a few gift cards, but your experience could always be different.

1.   American Express

I used a $ 100 American Express gift card…

Amazon Payments Gift Cards-003

American Express Gift Card

…and there was a $1 temporary authorization when I checked my gift card balance.  My available balance was only $99 instead of $100.

Amazon Payments Gift Cards 0

$1 Temporary Authorization Means I Can Use Only $99, Not $100

2.   MasterCard & Visa Gift Card

I had a $50 MasterCard & $ 50 Visa gift card at home, so I added them to Amazon Payments.

Amazon Payments Gift Cards 6

MasterCard Gift Card

Surprisingly there was NO temporary authorization on my gift cards…

Amazon Payments Gift Cards 1

No Temporary Authorization on MasterCard & Visa Gift Cards

…so I was able to drain the entire value from them.

3.  Vanilla Visa Gift Card

I added a $250 Vanilla Visa gift card to my Amazon Payment account.

Amazon Payments Gift Cards-002

Vanilla Visa Gift Cards

There was no temporary authorization…

Amazon Payments Gift Cards 5

No Temporary Authorization on Vanilla Visa Gift Card

…so I was able to use the entire value in Amazon Payments.

Amazon Payments Gift Cards

I Was Able to Use The Entire Gift Card Balance!

4.  OneVanilla Visa Gift Card

I added a $50 OneVanilla Visa gift card to my Amazon Payment account.

Amazon Payments Gift Cards-001

One Vanilla Gift Card

There was no temporary authorization, but my transaction failed the first time!

Amazon Payments Gift Cards 8

No Temporary Authorization on One Vanilla Gift Card

I tried again and the full $50 went through.

Amazon Payments Gift Cards 7

I Was Able to Use The Entire OneVanilla Gift Card Balance

Again, these were MY experiences, and your experiences could be different.  Only the American Express gift card, in my experience, had a temporary hold of $1 on it.

Bottom Line

You can add a Visa, American Express, and MasterCard gift card to Amazon Payments, but check to see if there is a temporary authorization on your gift card account before using it on Amazon payments.  You can do this by logging into your gift card account by going to the web address at the back of your gift card.

If there is a temporary authorization, you can either wait for it to fall off, use the gift card (less the amount of the temporary authorization) or use Frequent Flyer University’s method to get around that.

If there is no temporary authorization, you can use Amazon Payments for the full value of your gift card!  If you buy the gift cards at stores which give you a bonus for using certain types of credit cards, you may earn more than 1 point per $1 spent!

However, adding many cards to your Amazon Payments account could be a red flag.

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78 responses to “Using Amazon Payments to Spend Gift Cards

  1. Thanks. Wish I had read this before spending my Christmas gift cards. Are there any gift cards that you specifically can’t load into Or am I safe walking into my local CVS and picking up what’s on their shelf? (obviously not retail store gift cards).

  2. Quick Question – I’m sure it’s posted somewhere deep on this site but figured I’d add it to this thread as I’m sure someone else will have the same question.

    Can a person have more than one Amazon Payments account? Say you had multiple bank accounts? I want to see if it is possible to expand beyond the $1000 per month in free transactions on Amazon Payments.

    Thanks in advance!

  3. For Amazon payments, gift cards $50 and less (for payments of $50 or less) will have no authorization or hold. Gift card payments of more than $50 will have a $1 hold. I use Amazon payments to cash out gift cards I get for product rebates or similar promotions, since gift cards don’t get me points.

  4. I’ve converted a lot of my spend to the Vanilla Visa gift cards that I get at Office Depot. 5000 points for $4.95… however, I find when I get towards the end I have had trouble coming up with transactions to finish off the card.. But, I have now discovered that Amazon allows you to buy gift cards starting at $0.15…so I finish off my Vanilla visa cards with Amazon gift cards now (though most of my amazon spend gets amazon gift cards, bought at Staples)

  5. Right now I have about $1.02 available as “Receiving” and $2.35 available as “Sending” since I have used up my AP for the month. Can I still do this gift card thing? Is it separate from the monthly $1,000 sending/receiving limit?

  6. Good post, I never thought about using gift cards on AP.

  7. Old news. Hopefully deal wont die soon.

  8. Can you use amazon gift cards to fund amazon payments?

  9. Not that this method was totally obscure. But expect it to be gone or severely modified now that this has been spoon fed.

    • @Travel Bug – I haven’t checked all prepaid gift cards, but it could be better to do a small test before buying large value gift cards. That said, I suspect most US gift cards should work.

      @BillyBob – I believe you can, but it isn’t something I’ve done or am comfortable with. See this post for more details.

      @mikeclemson – My $250 Vanilla Visa gift card had no hold when I added it to Amazon payments.

      – That’s a good way to empty an Amazon gift card!

      @Brandon – Gift cards included in the limit of $1,000, so you’d have to wait until next month.

      @Scott – Hope it helps!

      @TPA Dude – I haven’t been able to do that.

      @Romsdeals @BH – Well, Amazon Payments is still going strong despite similar comments 18 months ago.

  10. If u don’t know anyone who wants to open up amazon payments, is there a way to load and withdraw on ur own?

  11. Regardless of what Romsdeal stays, thank you for the wonderful news, however, can one assume you are still limited to the 1K a month with Amzaon per account?

  12. Thanks for the heads up. Even though I’ve been hitting Amazon Payments and the gift card thing separately pretty hard, I hadn’t thought to combine them. 5k Chase points a month instead of 1k? I’ll take that any day!

    Great stuff!

  13. Okay, but I fail to see the step about liquidating the card’s value. Let’s say I have a $500 giftcard that I added to Amazon payments through the steps above. How do I get that value deposited into my bank account?

  14. Is this possible to open few account on amazon with the same name but different email addresses or they are going to cach and close all the account?

  15. One question: could the money trasferred by amz payment be part of the receiver’s taxable income? To avoid the cash advance fee, I guess you have to choose “goods and services” when using AP, but doesn’t that look like the other person is selling you something?

    Maybe you can avoid the problem by paying to yourself. But still, a little sketchy.


  16. Can a household have multiple AP accounts under different SSNs and send money to one another (maybe always one direction)? will AP shut down account for this case? thanks.

  17. @mikeclemson, are you saying that a $50 or less GC does not need to register with name to use on AP? thanks

  18. Does loading the gift card count in the $1000 limit of Amazon Payment? Thanks.

  19. Can someone help me calculate the points return for the Amex PRG? With it being a 2 points card at grocery stores what is my mininum purchase with consideration that Amazon only allows $1000 per month? 2x $500 minus the typical $4.95 fee for gift cards puts it at about 990 points. That is basically a loss of 1:1 versus 2:1 normal spending? Does that sound right?

  20. NotclassyRomsDeals

    @RomsDeals, Dude, def not classy. MMS had you as a guest on his blog back in December, and now you turn around and post dumb comments. AP will get shut down eventually, but not because of this blog or blogs in general. AP knows people are using it for reasons they didn’t intend, and have chose to keep it live . As a newbie to game Romsdeals, please use some more discretion,and don’t just act like all these other people who comment.

    @MMS, +1 for your comment. RomsDeals was practically brand new to the game 18 months ago, so he probably didn’t know people were talking about AP even back then 🙂

  21. Do you have to post this? Do you want this deal die? You idiot

  22. amazon payment will die in any minute. you just make it known to everyone.

  23. bloggers are the pain in the ass. now all deals only last for really short time.

    • @Webazoid – I wouldn’t recommend using it with one person.

      @Tony @Ted – Yes, you’re still limited to the $1K limit which is shared with credit cards.

      @Greg – You have to transfer the money deposited to another person like a trusted friend or partner. See the link to the original Amazon Payments post above.

      -I wouldn’t do that, but I know folks who do that.

      – Yes, if you cross $20K and 200 transactions Amazon is obligated to report it to the IRS. But you are limited to only $1K a month.

      – That is possible.

      @Adrian – You get 2,000 points if you buy the gift cards at a grocery store (in addition to fuel points and other promotions), or an extra 1,000 points for the gift card fee. This could be worth it depending on how you value Membership Rewards points.

      @david @duke – Amazon Payments is on Slick Deals, Fat Wallet, FlyerTalk and many other sites with much more traffic than this blog. Of course it will die. But it will die when Amazon wants it to die. Not sooner, and not later.

  24. @duke agreed…’s all about the money though **but you’ll never heard that from them**

  25. Opposite to what some others may have said, I appreciate you mentioning these different tips/tricks/mistakes. I’d love to be able to follow the other forums that may list these suggestions ahead of your website, but I struggle to find the right forums and have little time to do so. Thanks for the work your doing for your readers.

  26. Hi I was wondering if you can help me.I just got approved for the platinum offer for me and my wife and I have $6,000 to spend.Now the thing is that I need to pay $8,000 to my wifes collage but they don’t except amex (neither does charge smart). Do you know of any other way I can do it?
    Thank you,
    P.S. I’m a big fan of yours and your awesome blog.

  27. My first attempt at loading cards to amazon. Please help.
    Where is the claim code on the MasterCard gift card?
    I tried to load the numbers across the front to my amazon acct and rejects it asking for a claim code which it says it is a combo of letters and numbers?
    No where on the card or on the activation page are these numbers?

  28. Hi D,

    Quick question on Amazon Payments..I just sent a test amount ($10) to my friend using my Amex AAdvantage Citicard and noticed that the payment went through but there was also a $1 charge by Amazon. Any idea what that is?


  29. Using Amazon payment, do you send money to someone else to drain it?

  30. you said 20 k and 200 transaction, is that per month? or total combine of all transaction?

  31. I love all the newbie questions that show no attempt at finding info on their own on Google. A quick Google search will answer 95% of these questions.

    I appreciate good info that I didn’t know as much as the next guy, but come on people. Do a little digging on your own. Darius should start charging…

  32. Everyone seems able to register Amex GCs online, but I haven’t figured out how. I had to phone in (use zero in the phone tree to finally get to a human) to register the card, and wound up talking to a person in a faraway land who took all my information.

    • @Jason – Thanks for your kind words and for reading!

      @Big boy
      – You could buy Vanilla Reloads at a CVS with the card, transfer it to your Bluebird, and then have Bluebird mail a check to the college. Or buy visa/amex/mastercard gift cards in a store and send them to your wife via Amazon Payments (but you’re limited to only $1,000 a month).

      @Jeff – Amazon gift cards have a combination of letters and numbers, but you can’t add an Amazon Gift card to Amazon Payments. See this post on how to add a credit card to Amazon Payments.

      @Nat – It could be a temporary authorization.

      – That is per year and across all your transactions. You can send an Amazon Payment to someone else.

      – You can’t register Amazon Gift cards on Amazon Payments, but you can use regular amex/visa/mastercard gift cards on Amazon Payments.

  33. LOL – I went thru the other link and saw how negative and closed minded some people are regarding the “secretive” Amazon payments …FT for all purpose is a pretty dumb site + community. Not generalizing, but it is pathetic to see such exclusivity building on internet groups. I hope such people log off the net and remain in their closed world – no one tell them about free search engines, wikis, helpful tools and links… they can live with their amazon payments for ever. Just to diss such kind, I will schedule lots of transfer till they shutdown that service … Just kidding (before the flaming begins!) … anyways thanks for this site, which I visit daily, for showing the pros and cons of amazon payments. For the good of community, I will only sparingly use that service and hopefully others follow suit so that good things dont die while everyone gets to benefit from it.

    There was one deal about missing on your side… they had a credit-card fee free day recently. It is a good site for those who want to contribute for education purposes. Thanks for this site again.

  34. I just looked at the Amazon Payments and I saw that the monthly limit is $500. Was it lowered or am I looking at the wrong T&C?

  35. something rather bizarre happened to me. I verified my info, Loaded an amex card, as per instructions. saw the limit of the card – $1 authorization. thought i’d wait a few days till the $1 fell off and then send the money i owe to my brother.

    I log in today — and the balance is 0. doesn’t give me an option to do anything to send money via that card, even though the card is on file.

    MMS, have I been shut down or something of the sort? Seems odd given that i haven’t sent anything yet but just loaded the card and 2 days later — no balance. Maybe i need to add a bank account to legitimize who i am further?

    I use my brother’s account for all my purchases as he has Prime (why pay prime twice when it’s set up so multiple people can use the account)

    Please advise if you are aware of what the “flaw” might be.


  36. FYI: Just appled for two Citi cards in my wifes name ( first time for her) and then, I also after 18 months reapplied for 2 more for me using the 2 browser trick.. Worked just fine, now have 200,000 AA miles….

    I expect this will be ignored as my questions generally are!!

    • @wise – You have to send money for it to drain out of your gift card. Just loading it won’t use up the funds in the card. It also helps to provide the additional information to them.

      @Sonny – Congrats! I try to respond to most comments!

  37. To maximize this with family, do I need 8 more people (totaling $5000 in transactions)? Is the $1000 limit for both receiving and sending payment? Say, I sent $1000 to one person. Can I have a different person send me $1000 or have I already reached my $1000 limit? If so, that would mean I need 2 totally new people to do the second $1000 transaction, then another new pair of people to do the third $1000 transaction and so on?

  38. i think the problem was that i had not linked to bank account or verified driver license. Seems fine now.
    My problem was that when attempting to send, the site would not allow me as it showed 0 balance and hitting “continue” generated an error. However, after adding bank info and driver’s license info, seems to be working fine.

  39. @sonny. did you have the same citi AA cards 18 mo prior or just other city cards? I recall the 18 mo rule but i forget what it was referring to.

  40. Worked like a charm. Thanks so much for this very useful post. 1000 this month, 1000 next month, and I’ll meet my spend with bonus points (for Office purchases in the 1st quarter for ThankYou cards) to boot. You rock!

  41. So, I always test a new card to see if it works ok with Amazon Payments, used my Chase Southwest Personal card to send $10 to my wife and worked fine. Tried sending $690 later and it failed. I attempted to use my Southwest Business card to send her $500 and that failed. I checked my account and I have $1000 to send (990 now since the 10 went through). Anyone have any issues lately or have failed transactions? I’ve only used this service once in Dec. Thanks.

  42. Does gift card work worldwide ?

  43. Will Target Amex prepaid card works with Amazon payments?
    if it works, It will help eliminating the ATM withdrawal fees and
    400.00 withdrawal limit each day.

  44. I just signed up my AP account and I have cleaned couple of my gift cards. Great info. However, I couldn’t find the $1,000 limit rule from Terms Agreement and other place on the Does Amazon charge fee if I go over $1,000/month limit?

  45. If I send my wife $1,000.00 per month and she does so vice versa, will this be reported to the IRS? I know we are limited to 200 transactions/$20,000, but does this include what we receive also?

  46. @ Jeffrey – Sign in to AP –> Edit My Account Settings –> View my account limits.

  47. is there a way to electronically transmit amazon funds to a a bank account of your choosing in order to pay credit card bills?

  48. Has anyone tried using Amazon Payments with a MyVanilla Personal Reloadable Prepaid Card? I bought 2 @$500 each. I’ve only registered one and learned from the csr at MyVanillaDebitCard that there is a .50 transaction fee for each purchase made with the debit card. Thanks for any suggestions or feedback to this question.

  49. I was doing some reading to ensure I could finish my new Ink Bold,

    Will you file Form 1099-K for my account if I exceed only one of the two thresholds?

    No. Unless you exceed both thresholds ($20,000 in gross payment volume and 200 transactions) we will not file Form 1099-K for you.

    Also it is only money coming in so you really couldn’t exceed 20k unless you have multiple friends sending to you.

  50. I have a southwest airlines premier card and if I use Amazon Payments to send $1000 to a friend using the “goods and services” option, will it be considered a cash advance? I just want to see if anyone has any experience using this specific card with Amazon Payments. Thanks.

  51. Does anyone know if using the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premium Card on AP charge a cash advance fee?

  52. I have $600 (6 * 100) Amex gift card. I want to liquidate the GC to cash. What is the best way to liquidate the GC? If I use AP, Can I register all 6 GC and transfer to another AP account. Please advice what is the best option available. Thanks in advance.

  53. Can both husband and I send AP to son from same bank account? or do we need 2 separate ones as I think I have read that would constitute multiple accounts?

  54. Is it possible to use an Amazon gift card with Amazon Payments?


  55. Hi,

    TurboTax is giving the option of choosing amazon giftcards in place of direct deposits for tax refunds. Any ideas for monetising the gift cards through amazon payments or any other way?


  56. I have a question. Can you transfer money from Amazon Payments onto a prepaid Visa gift card?

  57. Hi Daraius,
    just got the Bold card. Can I buy 200 Amazon gift cards at Staples and get the 5X, then deposit that 200 card into my Amazon Gift Card balance? Could I also then do 2 cards into my Amazon Payments acct. a month without undue attention?

    Thank you,

  58. Thanks for all your info….. I am curious about the amazon gc also….I tend to stock up a couple of times a year,and just use my balance (Freedom categories) So I can use some of my balance that I’ve already got in my Amazon acct,and apply it to a payment? Also, what do they mean by ‘bank account’ link? Do they mean an actual bank, or would a bluebird bank acct. work with this? I know I’m a newbie….

  59. forgive me for not understanding….how would keeping a gift card balance be different from using an amazon account funded with gift cards? It seems like there isn’t any difference…..

  60. Just one quick question. Is there a way to load an amex gift card onto your account balance and than transfer the balance back to your account?

  61. How do you transfer an Amex GC balance to your checking acct? It shows a zero balance once you add the GC so you can’t withdraw funds. Do you send an e-mail to yourself? Thx.

  62. I have another question (thanks for all the great answers,BTW, that’s why your site is still my favorite…. anyway…. Can I use a cc to make a payment if I’m an authorized user on my Dh’s card? It’s his main account, but my au card has a different cc# than his…and it’s new, so it’s not on his acct.- thanks!

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  64. Does this still work? I have been able to add GC’s to my AP no problem, but my balance never increases. I even have $45 from 2 different Amazon Gift Cards (one physical, one e-gc). Amazon shows I have $45, but AP shows $0. I am linked to my bank account, AND have a $100 VGC attached as a credit card.

    As of now, working with low dollar amounts, so if this is dead, no biggie – but just trying to figure out the right path to run all this through. Primary focus is on the $45 – how can I get the $45 out of Amazon and into my checking account?