Where to Purchase AmEx Gift Checks?

When I was searching for information on where to buy American Express Gift Checks I was pleasantly surprised by the answer.

I learned the gift checks are sold at AmEx Travel Services locations, at many participating banks and credit unions and can be purchased online using your American Express, Visa or MasterCard credit card.

On September 30, American Express took a bold step to position itself in the gift check market by announcing it will no longer impose any monthly fees on gift cards.

This was an unexpected announcement and caused a bit of a fuss as other large banks considered making the same changes to compete with AmEx.

Widely Available

American Express gift checks are widely available. Many stores carry them and large retailers often display the gift checks on hanging racks near the cashier checkout area.

American Express offers a page on their website where you can enter your location and be shown a list of stores in your area selling AmEx gift checks.

The most appealing aspect of the American Express gift check is that you can use it just like cash at hotels, restaurants and most retail stores. When you receive a gift check you should sign in the upper left corner immediately.

When presenting the gift check for payment countersign the lower left corner with the cashier watching you and fill out the "pay to" line.

Gift Checks are Not Profitable For Credit Card Lenders

Gift checks are not profitable items for American Express or any other credit card lender. For that reason, small charges have been added here and there to increase profit. The public outcry has been increasing with the main complaint focused on dormancy fees.

When you send a gift card to a friend you assume the friend will use it quickly. That is not always the case. The card may be saved for a special use or may be tucked away and forgotten for a time.

Several years ago some lenders added expiration dates to gift cards. A card that was not used for six months or a year was canceled and the money forfeited.

Federal Express gift checks can be purchased in packs rather than as an individual gift check. Available in denominations of $25, $50 and $100 the single gift check costs only $2.50 to purchase. The gift packs are composed of five or ten checks worth $10 each.

This is a great gift for a student who may need to make several small purchases and find it easier to use separate gift checks with clearly labeled value than use a gift card where the amount remaining on the card is not visible.

Complaints about Cancelled Gift Cards

Consumer complaints about cancelled gift cards were heard as far as Washington, D.C. and the new Credit Card Regulations that will take effect in February 2010 dictate that a gift cad may not be cancelled for five years after it is purchased.

Predatory lending practices have been on the rise in recent years. Banks dislike products that do not provide a regular and ongoing profit. That was the reason for adding small, hidden charges on gift cards. A charge for making a purchase, a dormancy fee quietly assessed from the balance on the gift card if it is not used in a "timely" way.

These were the same methods credit lenders have used in assessing high fees and over limit charges on consumer credit card accounts. When applied to gift cards, however, the resistance from the public was immediate. This may be attributed to the lower balance of most gift cards.

You can purchase an American Express gift check for $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000. However, most gift checks are for modest amounts of $25 or $50. Even a small fee taken from the balance cannot be hidden and can quickly eliminate the amount available on the gift check.

Summary

The AmEx Gift checks gift suits all ages. For example, it is a perfect gift for a high school or college student. An aging parent or grandparent would also value a gift check as it removes the risk of carrying cash but is easy to understand and use.