Amex hates me.

I had a challenging childhood. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Mainly because one of the side effects is that I am not easily fazed by obstacles.

However, I’m having this issue with Amex, and I have to admit that not only is it becoming a bigger obstacle than I expected, but I’m starting to think it’s personal.

It all started when I decided to buy some American Express gift cards at TopCashBack. At the time, the payout was at 3% cash back, so by purchasing $5,000 worth of gift cards, I would be able to get $150 back, plus I would be able to meet minimum spend on my latest round of credit cards.

Sounds great, right?

Well. Yes. The transaction went through easily, and the next day, TopCashBack showed the 3% rebate as “pending.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 1.14.15 PM

Perfect. I knew that I would receive the gift cards within the next few days, and then I planned to use them for various bill payments, in various ways. (Note: many, many blog posts have been written on this topic! If you are curious, check out my friend PointChaser’s blog for a great “newbie” series).

I waited, and I waited, and I waited some more. Days went by, then a week. Finally, I called Amex. It turns out that they had cancelled my order. Why? No one knew. It was all very mysterious.

Fine. Unfazed, I simply waited several more days (most of the time you are only allowed to purchase $5,000 worth of Amex gift cards every two weeks), then I tried again.

This time, I went through BeFrugal instead of TopCashBack, because now they were the ones offering a 3% rebate. I used a different credit card for payment, just in case that had been the problem. The next day, I got a very nice email from Amex.

Thank you for your order.ย Please see below for order details,ย and a special offer.


We just wanted to let you know that we have approved your Card order #XXXXXXX.


No purchase fee on your next order

Enter Code EMSVCA upon checkout to receive 100% off the purchase fee on every order through 03/31/2014

Great. Lovely. Thanks, Amex!

The only problem is that the same exact thing happened. They cancelled my order again – for no reason! No one at Amex could tell me why!

My conclusion: WTH?

Has this ever happened to you? Any guesses why it keeps happening to me?



  1. Rebecca says:

    how weird!!!

  2. AMEX doesn’t like people who have leather seats in their car.

  3. Points Pixie says:

    Rebecca – I know!!

    Gene – I might have to strangle you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Spencer Driscoll says:

    @PointsPixie The reason I am guessing they are declining your orders is that the total amount (gift cards AND fees, including shipping) exceeds $5,000. Once I found that out and changed my orders to $4000 or $4500, they have all gone through.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Spencer – the weird thing is that they approved the order, then never told me that they were canceling it…it just kind of fizzled. I’ll try lowering the amount and see what happens.

      • SpencerD says:

        Just know that they also have a 21-day period between orders–both failed orders and successful orders. If your order failed this time around, you must still wait at least 21 days between orders in order to purchase more.

  5. Amex cancelled 8 of my orders ranging from 2K-3K before accepting one!

  6. I’ve had the exact same experience, despite having multiple AmEx cards and logging in to order through my account. I’m guessing AmEx doesn’t make money on these transactions over a certain amount given the rebate structure, and is thus just cancelling orders to prevent losses. I had 4/5 orders cancelled, all for rather large denominations.

  7. Are you using an AMEX CC?

  8. JustSaying says:

    I am embarassed to say that my 5k order went through without a hitch……..I think they knew I had an autographed pic of Cheney dove hunting that made them fill the order………Pixie I’ll sell you some if you are really in a bind…………

  9. DaninSTL says:

    Just think how boring it would be if they had just filled the order and mailed them to you.

    Maybe you can take them to small claims court for $148.81 that you lost on the Topcashback site since you can document that.

    Finally, at least they gave you a promo code to use ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. I have the same problem sometimes: Amex arbitrarily cancels my order, with no good explanation. However, this has never happened after I’ve already gotten an approval email. What I’ve found is if I keep the order at $3,500 or less, it tends to get approved. No idea why that is, but give it a shot and see how that works out.

  11. I just thought of something else. Your credit card company may be processing these as a cash advance and if your order exceeds your cash advance limit, it gets cancelled. If your cards are on the “CA” list, that may explain it:

  12. Are you based in New Jersey? There are some restrictions on purchasing gift cards over the web if you reside in NJ.

  13. Points Pixie says:

    asar – I love that you kept trying!

    Will – hmmm. Seems sneaky!

    ABC – First try was an Amex, second was a Barclaycard.

    JustSaying – You are so awesome.

    DaninSTL – HA! This made me laugh out loud. Love it!!

    Ariana – I’ll try $3500. Cards aren’t on the CA list…

    KP – No, I am in California. I think they just hate me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Marshall says:


    I got the cards (9K), but TCB has YET to give me my cash back.
    Never showed as pending. Filed claim thru customer care, now says they are
    “waiting for the merchant”. Been almost 40 days, still no cash back! ๐Ÿ™
    So, now you can hate me, too, since AMEX loves me (but TCB? not so much)

  15. Cogswell says:

    What do you do with $5,000 in AMEX gift cards? Doesn’t it take a while to spend all of it if you are just paying bills? That would mean you are effectively giving AMEX your money for free for months, and by doing so losing out on any potential investment return of your own.

    • JustSaying says:

      @Cogswell Refer to legend of DCBroker on Saverocity blog………you’ll need at least the entire morning on a Saturday to absorb it and then you’ll need to be willing to do a little driving and feel abused and stupid………if you are willing to do all that then the secrets of the ORB will be revealed to you in a moment of epiphany…………Good luck!

  16. I wouldn’t worry about it…many have reported that CB ends up posting even for these cancelled orders. I can report for myself that I have received many hundreds of dollars of CB for cancelled orders, and though I was obviously willing to go through with the transaction, I’ll take free money over the hassle of liquidating Amex GCs. Not that I would condone it, but check out the FT thread on Amex GCs for stories of those who have intentionally gamed this CB-for-cancelled-orders scheme.

  17. I looked for your article on transunion bumpage, am I missing it, or have you pulled the article?


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