Tip: Buying Amazon Gift Certificates with an American Express Prepaid Rewards Card

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

amexprepaidMany promotions will offer a “$50 cash card” sent to you in the mail. I recently received such a $50 American Express Prepaid Rewards card that looks exactly like the image shown in the top-right corner. I am horrible with gift cards and coupons (basically anything to do with shopping in general), so I prefer to consolidate them and buy Amazon gift certificate codes. We buy certain food items via Subscribe and Save, and that eats through the balance over time.

Usually, I can just take a $50 prepaid card and buy a $50 Amazon gift code with it, but this time the purchase was declined. I called up the American Express customer service number on the back of the card, and they told me that Amazon put a $1 hold on the card and that I could only charge $49 on it at Amazon. What about the $1 balance? The CSR told me to spend it at a local store. (If you do this, ask for a split tender transaction from the cashier.)

$1 balance hold solution. However, I figured that Amazon just puts a $1 temporary hold on any new credit card on file, not on every purchase, and I was right. I waited for the $1 hold to expire after a day or so, and then I was able to buy another $1 Amazon gift code with the same card, finally zeroing out the balance. (You can buy an Amazon gift card for any amount of at least $1 and you can reload your Amazon balance for any amount 50 cents and above. Look for the “Enter Amount” blank form.) Here’s a screenshot below.


Anyhow, I’m sending this out into the search engine void in case it helps someone else out.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Comments and/or responses are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser. Comments and/or responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. +1 to adding this bit of trivia to the known google universe.

    Not something someone would encounter often, but I can imagine the confusion caused by the $1 hold on first purchase with a newly-added card.

  2. HEB will autodrain if you don’t want to wait. You can just swipe at the checkout and it will use the last $1.

  3. Joshua Katt says

    Thank you for the idea to buy Amazon GC’s. Staples does this with “rebates” and the cards are short dated (less than 6 months) easy to misplace/forget, etc. I usually buy Costco GC’s with them after being burned with non-activity and card issuance fees.

  4. I do the same thing as Jonathon. The moment I get one of these gift cards, I immediatelly turn it into Amazon credit by buying a digital Amazon gift card with them and emailing it to myself to redeem. I’ve never encountered the $1 hold. What I do have to do first though, is log into the original gift card website and then enter my credentials including snail mail address into the gift card registration. Then Amazon will accept it for payment.

  5. I just pay myself the balance using square… and the I can continue getting all the benefits of using my credit card on amazon including 5% back.

    • Joshua Katt says

      Can you give more details on this square? Is it square cash? They must charge a fee. Please elaborate, I could really use something like this. I buy a lot of paper and Staples always has a “deal” where they charge $60 for a case of paper then give $40 back in debit cards. Thanks

    • But the reward cards are not associated with a name, right?

  6. Excellent tip! I had the same thing happen to me with an AMEX gift card at Amazon. I have the card sitting in my desk drawer with $1 left on it.

  7. Becky Lumert says

    Tried to purchase a gift card for $100 and it wouldn’t go through. Subtracted the $1 and it worked! Thanks so much for the tip!!!

  8. Thank you for this tip!!! I will try in a few days to get my $1!

  9. I’m with everyone else. I had the same problem and couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t go through. Thank you for putting this out into the search engine void.

  10. Teresa Henning says

    Helped me

  11. charles xavier says

    Just fyi I ran into this problem with Amazon and a Amex Gift Card. Tried to add the card value to my amazon GC balance but it was declined by Amazon and had a pending $1 transaction. I tried it again and was still declined with another $1 pending transaction. Talked to amazon they said it was declined no charges went through since the $1 is a test charge it needs to be dealt with at the issuing bank. Called Amex. They ended up making the card hold but basically gave me the business of that you can’t use Amex to buy another gift card as that it’s considered money laundering. I call BS and got me thinking that they would rather have people use the card so they can they go after the business for credit card processing fees. Anyways YMMV.

    • David Slothorn says

      dude, did you even read the post? They literally tell you to load up $1 less than the amount on the card, wait for the $1 to clear, then load up the last $1. It’s not YMMV, it actually works, you just didn’t bother to read the method.

  12. Thank you for this. I’ve never had issues with Visa gift cards and got an AMEX one out of the blue from work. Through trial and error I learned that I could only use $49 of the $50 at first but I’ll definitely check my balance tomorrow to milk that extra $1 out of it (time’s is hard)!

Speak Your Mind