Activate an American Express Gift Card Guide For [year]

Are you looking to gift a friend, family member, or colleague at work for a special occasion or a holiday? Instead of sending an item, you can send a gift card to buy what they want. Or maybe, you just want a place to buy gift cards for yourself and use them, later on, to buy stuff online or in-store instead of using your debit card.

Whatever your needs, American Express gift cards offer a lot of flexibility and gifting choices. From classic cards to personalized Amex Express cards for special occasions, you have options between electronic and traditional versions based on your gifting and giving preference.

But before you send an Amex gift card to someone or use it to make purchases online or in-store, you need to make sure the card is activated to avoid inconveniences. If the card hasn’t been activated or the balance is insufficient, the purchase will be declined. It can be embarrassing at a retail store or a restaurant when paying the bill and tip.

How do you activate American Express gift cards?

Short Answer: Most American Express gift cards, especially those bought online, come ready to use and may not require activation. But other cards, mostly those purchased in-store, require you to take further steps and activate the AMEX card before you can use it.

You can activate your Amex Express gift card online via the American Express website or Amex mobile app. Simply navigate to and enter your card details, including the card number, expiration date, and security code.

Alternatively, call the number on the back of the card and give your card details to the customer care representative to activate your Amex gift card.

It’s very simple. Now you can go on a shopping spree with your card! Remember, an activated gift card is like cash. A thief can spend the balance of your gift card like a stolen credit card at a gas station or something like Roblox.

To maximize your value, we’ll tell you everything you need to know, including how to activate and register your American Express gift card, purchasing fee, and how to use your Amex card to make purchases online.

What are the General Fact To Know about the American Express Gift Cards? 

There are many benefits to using an AMEX gift card:

  • There are no monthly or inactivity fees: There are no monthly fees or inactivity fees for carrying an American Express gift card.
  • Funds won’t expire: Yes, you heard that right! Funds loaded on your Amex card won’t expire. The card has a ‘valid thru’ date, but not the funds. If your card is past that valid thru date, just ask customer service for a replacement or request a refund via check.
  • Millions of places: American Express gift cards can be used at any retail location where the retailer or merchant accepts Amex credit or debit cards.
  • Buying options: You can buy an Amex gift card online from the Amex website or in-store from drug stores, supermarkets, grocery stores, and other places where gift cards are sold.
  • Avoid fees: Purchasing fees apply in both cases. There are shipping fees when you buy online, but the fees can be waived with promo codes. Buying in-store has no shipping fees, but the buying fees could be higher.
  • Amex cards are prepaid cards: Amex gift cards are prepaid cards issued with a preset dollar amount. In-store card amounts are capped at $500. The maximum American Express gift card denomination goes up to $3000 online via their website.

Where Can You Buy American Express Gift Cards?

American Express Gift Cards can be purchased either online or in-store. Your best place to purchase Amex cards online is the American Express website itself. Buying directly from Amex gives you a lot of choice and customization options, and with the correct promo code, you can get free shipping fees and $0 purchasing fees.

Here are the different types of Amex gift cards available for purchase on the website.

  • American Express gift cards: They don’t include any custom messages, but there are several pre-designs to choose from. The Amex gift cards are ideal for gifting anyone.
  • American Express Consumer Gift Cards: The cards are ideal for holiday gifts to friends and family. Several designs are available, and you can give the card to almost anyone.
  • Personalized American Express Gift Cards: These cards can be customized with the recipient’s name embossed in gold letters.
  • American Express Business Gift Cards: The business gift cards make the best gift for an office worker to please all; you can choose from several designs.
  • Customized American Express Business Gift Cards: If you want to give a client, employee, or colleague a customized gift card, opt for this one. The card can be customized with up to two lines of a custom message!

If buying stuff online doesn’t work for you, consider purchasing an American Express Gift Cards in-store. Many locations, including smaller and large chain stores, sell Amex gift cards. Drug stores, grocery stores, and financial institutions are the top places that offer American Express Gift Cards.

List of the Best Places That Sell Amex Gift Cards:

Drug & Grocery Stores

  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Walgreens

Grocery Stores & Gas Stations

  • Kroger
  • Ralph
  • Winn Dixie
  • Safeway

Department/Specialty Stores

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Sears
  • Staples
  • Office Depot

Financial Institutions

  • Citibank
  • Sovereign Bank
  • First Midwest Bank
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Huntington Bank

What’s the Difference Buying an American Express Gift Card Online Vs. In-Store?

American Express sells e-gift cards online and in-store. But is there a difference between buying an Amex Gift Card online vs. in-store? Each purchasing method has its pros and cons.

We’ll help you weigh the pros and cons of each option so that you can make a wise decision.

Buy online

American Express sells e-gift cards online through Amex Online. You can also buy them online via Walmart Online or Target Online. Here are the pros and cons of buying Amex cards online.


  • Personalization: You get more designs and customization/personalization options. You can personalize the cards for a specific occasion with the recipient’s name embossed on them!
  • Cheaper: You will pay a lower purchasing fee when you buy online than in-store. The fee is usually $3.95 to buy from Amex Online. You can get it for as low as $3.44 from Walmart Online.
  • Promo codes: With the best promo code, you can have purchasing/shipping fees waived. Check sites like RetailMeNot.
  • Higher card limit: The site will sell a gift card with a maximum of $3,000 per card.


Shipping fees: It’s the major downside of buying an Amex card online. You will have to pay to have it mailed to your home! You can buy the card for only $3.95 online and have it mailed to you for $5.95 in 10 days. The shipping fee can be up to $8.95 expedited shipping and $15.95 for rushed delivery! Places like Target offer free standard shipping of gift cards, while Walmart will send your Amex cards for free on orders over $35.

Buy In-store

American Express sells electronic gift cards and traditional gift cards in-store. Popular locations include grocery stores, drug stores, and some financial institutions. Here are the pros and cons of buying Amex Gift Cards in-store:


  • Free shipping: No shipping fees to worry about. Just pay, grab your card and go!


  • Higher purchase fees: In-store purchase fees are higher than online purchase fees. Fees can be as high as $5.95 or more, depending on the store.
  • Lower card limit: The card amount is capped at $500 per card
  • Limited designs: Card customization and personalization aren’t available in-store. You are limited to the few available designs.

How to get American Express Gift Card with Free Shipping

There are a few ways you can get American Express Gift Card with free shipping. When you buy an Amex gift card via Amex Online, shipping fees start at $5.95 for standard delivery and $8.95 for expedited shipping. Shipping fees can skyrocket to $15.95 for rushed delivery in 2-4 business days.

A frugal consumer can save money if you find a way to avoid the shipping cost. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to sidestep shipping charges, including:

  • Buy in-store: Buying in-store is your best bet if you want to get an American Express Gift Card without shipping fees. Just walk to any retail store or financial institution that sells Amex gift cards. Pick a design, pay, and go!
  • Buy online from Target: Another way to get an American Express Gift Card with free shipping is to buy one through Target Online. The purchase fee starts at $4 with free standard shipping. Although your card may take longer to arrive, it’s a great option if you want to avoid the shipping fee.
  • Walmart Online: You can also get an Amex Gift Card with free shipping when you buy one online from Walmart. Walmart offers free shipping on orders over $35. Otherwise, join W+ to get free next-day and two-day shipping on items with no order minimum required.

How to Activate an American Express Gift Card?

You can activate your American Express Gift Card by phone, online, or through the Amex mobile app.

Activate an American Express Gift Card online

You are not required to enroll in an Amex online banking service to activate your American Express cards. Follow these steps to activate your card.

  • Visit the American Express gift card page –
  • Enter your card details, including the 15 digits card number, Expiration date, and security code at the back of the card. You can also enter your email address if you want to receive deals and offers from Amex; it’s optional.
  • Hit the Sign In button to complete the card registration and activation.
  • Your card is now ready to use. If you entered your email address, you’d receive a confirmation email about your card’s activation.

Activate your American Express Gift Card by phone

Suppose you find online activation a hassle or don’t have internet connectivity. In that case, you can activate your Amex gift card via phone by calling the Amex Customer Care representative to do it for you. Follow these steps:

  • Call the number on the back of your card to activate your Amex gift card. Alternatively, call customer services at 1-877-297-4438 or 1-88-205-8622 or 800-869-3016
  • Provide the card details, including the card number, valid thru date, and Card ID. You may also be prompted to provide your personal information, such as your home address or Social Security number.
  • Once you provide these details, Amex Customer Service will activate the card on your behalf.

Activate American Express Gift Card with a mobile app

You can also activate your American Express Gift Card using the Amex mobile app.

Follow these steps:

  • Download and install the Amex mobile app from Google Play or the App Store
  • Click to register for a new online services account
  • Enter the card’s details manually or simply by scanning the gift card
  • Click Sign Up to complete the registration process and verify your identity. Once your identity is verified, you are good to go. Your Amex card is now active.

Every time you receive or buy an Amex gift card, the first thing you should do is take the necessary steps to activate it and check the balance before you can use it for purchases. It’s a way of telling the company that you have received the card, and now you’re ready to start using the money loaded on it.

Most of the time, Amex Express Gift Cards purchased via Amex Online are shipped ready to use and may require no activation. But if your card was bought in-store, you will need to activate it before spending it online or a retail store.

Do American Express Gift Cards Have an Activation Fee?

American Express Gift Cards don’t have an activation fee. It’s one of the many perks that come with Amex gift cards. They have no inactivity fees, no monthly fee, and funds loaded on your card don’t expire. Although the card has a valid thru date, you can always get a replacement if the date is passed.

The only fees that apply to your Amex gift cards are purchase fees and shipping fees if you buy the card online. Once you have your card, just go ahead and activate it for free. Then go on a shopping spree anywhere American Express is accepted.

Do You Have to Activate American Express Gift Cards?

To a large extent, you will have to activate your American Express Gift Cards depending on whether the card was bought online or in-store.

If you buy your gift card through Amex Online, you don’t need to activate your gift card. Unless otherwise, cards purchased online come ready to use and require no activation.

But if your gift card was bought in-store, you’ll first need to activate it before you can use it. You won’t be able to make payments with the card because the money loaded on it is inaccessible until it’s activated. You’re notifying the card issuer that you’ve received it and ready to use the gift card once activated.

You can activate an American Express Gift Card online, via phone, or using the Amex mobile app. Once registered, the card owner can go on a shopping spree at their local retailer or buy cheap trendy clothes online, whatever you want.

What’s the American Express Gift Card Activation Phone Number?

To activate your American Express gift card by phone, call the number on the back of your card. Alternatively, call customer service at 1-877-297-4438 or 1-88-205-8622 or 800-869-3016

What are the American Express Gift Card Denominations?

You can purchase American Express Gift cards in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $200, and more.

The maximum card amount varies depending on whether you buy your Amex gift card online or in-store. The maximum gift card you can buy in-store is $500, but you can buy an Amex gift card up to $3,000 through Amex Online.

Purchase fees increase with the amount loaded on your card and may vary from store to store. In-store purchase fees are higher than online purchase fees. If you buy your card online, you’ll have to factor in the shipping fee.

Can I Cash Out My American Express Gift Card?

Per the terms and conditions for American Express gift cards, you can’t withdraw cash from an Amex gift card. You can only use it to purchase goods and services because the card only supports credit functions.

That means there is no way you can get cashback on your American Express Gift card. You are not allowed to withdraw $5 cash from an ATM or get cash back at a store with your gift card.

Although there is no direct way to cashback on your American Express Gift Card, there are alternative ways to get cash out, including:

How to Check Balance on American Express Gift Card

You can check your American Express Gift Card balance online via the Amex website or mobile app. Doing a balance lookup is a similar process when registering or activating your card.

To check your balance, navigate to the Amex website and click on the “Check your Balance” page to bring the form. Alternatively, go straight to Balance.AMEXgiftcard. 

Enter your card details into the fields, including card number, expiration date, and the security code on the front of the card. Then check the capture and hit the Sign in button. That’s how simple it is to check your balance.

You should always check the balance on prepaid American Express cards before you go shopping. Even if your gift card is brand new and hasn’t been used, it’s good to confirm you have enough money on the card to cover your purchases. Knowing your balance will avoid unwanted surprises at the cash register.

Where to Find American Express Gift Card Promo Codes

The best way to get an American Express Gift Card coupon code is to check sites like Giving Assistant and RetailMeNot. The sites have up-to-date promo codes.

American Express gift card promotion codes exist for waiving purchase and shipping fees. It can be a quick cost-saving. It means that if you buy a $200 gift card with a promo code, you get your Amex gift card with free shipping at no additional cost.

For example, if you buy a $200 gift card via Amex Online, the purchase fee is $3.95, and the shipping fee is $5.95 for standard shipping. That means you will have to pay an additional $9.90 in fees to have your card home.

A valid promo code will waive the $9.90 purchase and shipping fees; you’ll receive the $200 gift card free of charge! Although promo codes aren’t guaranteed to work, you are bound to find a couple that works just fine. Try your luck!

Try our guide on the best online coupon sites.

How to Use Your American Express Gift Card for Online Shopping?

The process of shopping online with an American Express Gift Card is the same as using your debit card. At checkout, you’ll be required to enter your name, billing and shipping addresses, the gift card number, expiration date, and the 4-digit security code on the front of the card.

Once you have entered your gift card details, you’re ready to make your purchase. If your gift card balance is high enough, your order will process and be complete.

Just like a normal debit transaction, your purchase will not be processed if your gift card has insufficient funds. That is why it is always advisable to check your Amex gift card balance online before shopping online or at a store.

Make sure that you have enough money on the card to cover the purchase.

Many online merchants don’t allow splitting purchases over multiple payment methods. Apps like Wish for online shopping only let you choose one form of payment.

Can you Transfer American Express Gift Card to a Bank Account?

Unfortunately, you can’t transfer American Express Gift Card to your bank account directly. Since gift cards don’t hold any direct currency, it’s hard to transfer their value.

Also, you can’t get cash back at a grocery store or an ATM that dispenses $10 or any denomination. Amex Express and the banks have a strict policy, and there’s no direct way to convert a gift card to cash.

The only way to get cash for your Amex gift card is to sell it or buy a money order with it and then convert the money order into cash. Then, you can deposit the money into your bank account.

Also, it’s difficult to find places that cash checks without an ID, but buying a money order typically only requires an ID when it’s over $1,000.

Can You Use an AMEX Gift Card on Apple Pay?

You can easily add your AMEX gift card to Apple Pay, Android, and Samsung Pay.

Follow the steps to add your gift card to your Apply Pay Wallet:

  1. Select the “Wallet” app
  2. Click the “+” icon in the upper-right of the screen
  3. Select “Credit or Debit Card”
  4. Scan the gift card with your camera or select “Enter Card Details Manually”
  5. Enter your name, card number, expiration date, and four-digit security code (found on the front of your card”
  6. Review and agree to the terms
  7. Click on “Use as Default Card” so it’s used next time you make a purchase or select “Not Now”

This is a good way for parents to control kids spending by reloading the AMEX gift card when they need more money. Kids can spend the American Express gift card on PS4, Roblox, Amazon, a convenience store, and more.

Where Can The American Express Gift Card Not Be Used?

While you can use the American Express Gift Card at millions of stores in North America, there are certain places or situations where your card won’t be valid. 

  • You cannot use your gift card outside the US and Canada. 
  • Merchants like car rental companies, cruise lines, and casinos won’t accept the American Express gift card. 
  • If you have pre-authorized payments set up (for rent, subscriptions, utilities, phone services, etc.), your gift card cannot be used to pay for these services. 
  • If your transactions require preauthorization for less than their full value, your gift card will not be valid. 
  • Some instances might let you only use the gift card at certain merchant locations. These locations will be mentioned with the gift card when you receive it if it’s applicable to your card. 

Will My Gift Card Expire?

In simple words, yes. Like all cards, American Express cards expire as well. 

However, you don’t have to be worried about the funds on your American Express Gift Card ever expiring, which means that you’ll always be able to take full advantage of the amount of money that you put onto it. 

However, the plastic card that you use will have an expiration date that will be used for security verification and authorization purposes. For example, while making online transactions, you’ll be asked for the expiration date on your card to authenticate that you’re the owner of the card. 

If your card expires, make sure that you don’t use it at any outlets, as this might lead to delays and extra fees on your account. You’re eligible to get a full refund without any extra cost by calling the gift card customer service and letting them know that your card has expired. 

Can I Use the American Express Gift Card With Other Forms of Payment?

There might be times when you want to use your American Express Gift Card at an outlet, but you might not have enough balance on it for the complete bill. You might have the option to use a second form of payment in such a scenario. 

The first thing you’ll need to do is to ask the cashier if it would be possible to pay it with two different forms of payment. It’s at the discretion of the outlet to allow you to pay your bill this way, but usually it’s not an issue. 

Next, check exactly how much balance you have in your American Express gift card. You’ll have to let the cashier know the amount so that they can use your card for the particular amount (or less) and use a second form of payment for the remaining amount on your bill. 

Activate an American Express Gift Card Summary

American Express Gift Cards offer a lot of flexibility and choice for gifting friends, family, colleagues, or employees-from custom personalized cards to traditional designs. Before you go shopping, you should first activate your American Express Gift Card and check the balance to avoid unwanted surprises at checkout.

While cards bought directly from Amex Online come ready to use, in-store Amex gift cards require activation. Simply navigate to to activate your card and check the balance. Alternatively, use the Amex mobile app or call the number at the back of your card and give the card details to a customer service representative to activate it on your behalf.