How to Use an American Express Gift Card

You might have received an American Express gift card from a friend or relative for a special occasion or from an appreciative boss as a bonus for a job well-done. The gift card is pre-loaded with a fixed value, such as $50 or $100, and is widely used as a monetary gift. It is more secure than cash since it is replaceable if lost. It's economical too, as there are no fees for the user. Although an American Express gift card looks just like a credit or debit card, there are a few differences to keep in mind as you use it.

Where to use your card

Use your American Express gift card anywhere in the United States that accepts American Express, including many restaurants, gas stations, coffee shops and retailers. You can use it for purchases made in person or online. The card cannot be used to withdraw cash at ATM machines. It is not valid outside the U.S.

How to use it

Sign your name in the signature panel on the back of the card. Make purchases as you would with a credit card, by handing the card to a clerk, swiping it through a card reader or by entering the card number for an online purchase. Identify your card as a "gift card" if asked, but if this option is not available, use the "credit card" option.

Your card should be used for purchases that do not exceed the balance of cash stored on the card. However, some merchants may permit you to make a partial payment with the balance on the card and use cash or another form of payment for the remainder. Use the website or toll-free phone number on the back of your gift card to check the available balance.


Some merchants also ask you to enter the card verification value (CVV) number, which is the 4-digit number on the right side of the front of your gift card.


Check at restaurants and gas stations for proper usage. Some restaurants automatically add a service charge (a tip) to your bill. If the total exceeds the card balance, the restaurant will reject your card, so specify the exact amount you want on the card to your server. Not all self-service gas pumps accept gift cards for swiping. Instead, take the card to the clerk to pay in advance of pumping gas.

Card security

Your card is replaceable if lost. Make a copy of the front and back of your card or write down the 14-digit card number, the "Valid Thru" date, the four-digit security code on the front of the card and the three-digit code on the back of the card. If the card is lost or stolen, notify American Express immediately at 877-297-4438 to request a replacement.


Your card does not expire. If you reach the "Valid Thru" date on the front of the card, contact American Express for a replacement card with a new date.


Purchases made with your gift card cannot be disputed through American Express. Any disputes must be taken up directly with the merchant.