Use American Express gift card on Amazon

EDIT for Dec 2023 and beyond:
Trying to do an Amazon Reload for the entire amount minus $0.10 got rejected every time, even using lower increments like $100 or $50.

It appears you can process two $25.00 Amazon Reloads in a 24-hour period.  You must run one and wait for it to get to completion (takes around 5 minutes), then try the next one.

A better idea (kudos to my boss for suggesting it) is to take your AMEX gift card to Walmart and purchase an Amazon Gift Card from them for the same amount.  Then you can run one Amazon Reload transaction for the full amount.

 I ran into a snag trying to load my Amazon gift card balance with prepaid American Express gift cards.  I learned what went wrong and was able to correct it, so I hope this article will help you get it right the first time.

The ideal way to use the gift card is to add it as a payment method in Amazon, then use the "Reload your gift balance" function to convert your Amex gift card to Amazon credit.  Then if you need to make purchases that would be split between your gift card balance and your default payment method, it will go without a hitch.

The caveat at the time of this writing is, when you add the gift card as a payment method, Amazon will validate the card by requesting a $0.10 auth on it with the issuing bank, which will lock that amount, leaving you $0.10 less  than the full amount of the card that you can reload your gift balance with.

That said, if you have a gift card for $100 and you want to use it on Amazon, you're really going to reload your gift balance with $99.90 instead of $100.00

Steps to load your American Express gift card into Amazon:

  1. Add your card as a payment option in Amazon
    1. Log into Amazon
    2. Navigate to Account | Your Payments
    3. Click on the "Wallet" tab if not already there.
    4. Under the "Cards & accounts" section, click the "Add a payment method" option
    5. Under the "Add a New Payment Method" section in the right pane, under "Credit or debit cards", click the "Add a credit or debit card" button.
      1. Enter the card information
      2. Uncheck the "Set as default payment method" button
      3. Click the "Add your card" button
      4. Make sure it was successful
  2. Verify the hold Amazon placed on your gift card by going to the Amex Gift Card Balance website. NOTE: This can take up to 15 minutes to appear...
    1. At time of this writing, my auth hold was $0.10, but your mileage may vary depending on when you attempt it.  If you confirm the amount on the Amex website, you will know how much to deduct from the full amount when reloading your Amazon gift balance.
    2. UPDATE 2022-12-09: Amazon didn't apply the $0.10 after 15 minutes of adding the card as a payment option in Amazon.  It waited until I executed step 3 below (purchasing the "Amazon Reload"). I made the mistake of trying the full amount since I hadn't seen the $0.10 hold.  Amazon accepted the purchase, but being suspect, I went back to the Amex Gift Card Balance site and looked at the transactions again. The $0.10 Pending Transaction immediately appeared.  So I get to contact Amazon and tell them to cancel and try again with the $0.10 deducted.  Lame. 

      My recommendation is to just proceed to Step 3 and immediately load the balance assuming you won't be able to use the $0.10
  3. Reload your gift balance on Amazon
    1. Navigate to Account | Your Gift Card Balance
    2. Click the "Reload your Balance" button
    3. Enter the adjusted amount in the "Enter an amount" textbox (in our example of a $100 gift card with a $0.10 hold, you would enter $99.90)
    4. Select the American Express "credit" card under "Your credit and debit cards"
    5. Click the orange "Reload $99.90" button
    6. You will get the message that the order is being processed and should receive an email a few minutes later confirming that the balance is reloaded.
Amazon will not allow you to edit or cancel a "Reload Your Balance" order, so attempting to load your entire card while the auth hold is in place, will result in your order becoming stuck in a "Payment revision required" loop where Amazon will email you stating the transaction was denied and that it can't be completed unless you revise your payment method.  Revising your payment method means logging in to Amazon and changing which card you're using to reload the balance.  Since you don't want to use a different payment method, you are left to contact Amazon support; who will be tempted to tell you that the hold is at the bank and that you need to contact the bank... or they will mention that you entered the credit card information incorrectly and will need to correct it.

Neither will be true... you simply tried to reload more than what is available on your gift card... so the support agent will be required to cancel the order so you can place it again with the proper amount.  Again, you can discover the proper amount by investigating the auth hold on the Amex Gift Card Balance site... then subtracting that amount from the total of the card.

Happy shopping!


Jessica said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! So helpful. I hate when I get close to the end of a gift card and it doesn't cover the full purchase. This has made life easier.

That One Guy said...

I'm happy this helped you @Jessica!

Gina said...

Used your instructions but it didn't work. Any other helpful hints?

That One Guy said...

@Gina: What kind of symptoms/error messages did you encounter while trying the instructions?

Janet said...

I entered my gift card information in Amazon several hours ago and don’t see any deduction from my balance. Does it take awhile? Also, on the Amazon site it asks for a name in the card, since it is a gift card there is no name, but since one is required I entered my name. Is this correct?

That One Guy said...

@Janet: my cards usually said "MERRY CHRISTMAS" on them. I entered them with that as the name.

The hold showed up within 5 minutes of me entering it into Amazon if I recall correctly.
Did you ever see the hold for you? If not, then I imagine you can use the entire amount on Amazon for loading your gift card balance.

Anonymous said...

So what happens with the 10 cents. Who gets that?

That One Guy said...

@Anonymous: I believe the hold expires after a while and it just stays on the card. I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

Thank for that detailed report. That is exactly my experience except they told me they would return the $0.10 which has not yet happened. I guess you just have to give up the $0.10 to buy the Amazon gift card. I wonder how many millions of people they took $0.10 from?

That One Guy said...

That would certainly add up, though I don't believe Amazon is keeping the $0.10. I think it is just used as an "authorization" to validate the card. It eventually gets freed back up and you may be able to add it later when it does. I have not tried, so I can't say for sure.

If you try it, please let us know how it goes! Wait 7-10 days after the initial loading of the rest of the card. Hopefully the "Check your balance" site will show when the authorization is gone. Best of luck!

Teej said...

The $0.10 hold will expire and go back to your card, but if you try to do it again you'll still be unable to use that 10cents because the validation step will always happen, even if you added the card a long time ago. I've had 5 of these gift cards and I've tried every permutation of adding it, waiting for the hold to go away, reloading , or immediately using etc that there is. No way to get that last 10 cents.

That One Guy said...

Thanks @Teej for the clarification! Most helpful.

That One Guy said...

It looks like it doesn't work anymore. I got my card added to Amazon and every time I try to use it to do an Amazon Reload it will deny the payment method.

If I use it for regular Amazon orders it works fine, but that makes things extremely difficult to be able to use the entire card's money.

Please let me know if you got it to work for end of 2023, early 2024!

Anonymous said...

Found this site after frustratingly trying to add a couple Amex gift cards to my Amazon balance. Even after over an hour with customer support it would not work. Anyone know if I take my Amex gift card to a retail store to buy a physical Amazon gift card for the full balance if the same hold issue will happen? I want to use the entire balance of the cards and not leave a little behind.

That One Guy said...

My boss was able to purchase an Amazon gift card from Walmart for the full amount. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes!

Anonymous said...

This worked for me. Thanks for the details. It's important to cancel a 'Processing' transaction that is waiting for the payment to be updated as a 2nd attempt failed at the Value-Auth (10 cents) amount. Customer service canx both via chat no problem. Reload worked after that. Just made a 10 cent donation to the card issuer.

I have gone around in circles with all the various cards and issuers. For MC and Visa, it's an attempt to get your contact information as your name and zip need to match on the transaction (at least for me), so you have to 'register' the card. AMEX was better by being anonymous.

I keep telling family/co-workers that gift cards only benefit the issuer. 2022 gift card market was valued at USD 834.62 billion in 2022 and is estimated to reach approximately USD 3.70 trillion by 2031, at a CAGR of 18.0% from 2023 to 2031. Rough math, (using the 10 cents on my $50 card) .002 percent of the card value is retained in this use case. That's $1.7Bn in revenue. How they get away with it is a mystery as 'funds never expire'.

The true value may be in the contact information collection.

That One Guy said...

Those are super interesting thoughts and crazy stats if those numbers are true. I've often wondered about that because of the unused value of the card once you get low enough it's just not worth the effort anymore. Sometimes that value can be over $1.00 which would make much more money than the $1.7B you mentioned.

That's why I prefer gift cards to online stores that will result in credit on your account, since you can use all of that and go back to your normal method of payment at that point. So I would still recommend converting your Amex, MC, VISA gift cards to another type of card that can be a 1:1 conversion that will get you credit to the said account that you can use all of the funds for.

Good call on the data collection too... we definitely need to be cautious about those things too. Thanks for the insight!