Using Amazon Payments to Spend Gift Cards

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Using Amazon Payments to Spend Gift Cards

Million Mile SecretsUsing Amazon Payments to Spend Gift CardsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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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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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?

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!

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.

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?

Million Mile Secrets

@Patrick – You can load the AMEX gift card to your account and then transfer your balance to your checking account.

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…..

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