Credit Cards

In actual reality, how much will Amex notice/care if I buy a $500 Apple gift card (or any other gift card) at a grocery?

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  • Oct 6th, 2021 5:56 pm
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[OP]
Sr. Member
Jul 6, 2018
661 posts
1136 upvotes

In actual reality, how much will Amex notice/care if I buy a $500 Apple gift card (or any other gift card) at a grocery?

Sorry. I've just read so much conflicting information. I don't know what to think anymore.
28 replies
Jr. Member
Mar 25, 2015
193 posts
132 upvotes
One time? I think relatively unlikely anyone will care.
On the other hand, you keep doing it daily, there might be questions. MS is grey area with a lot of YMMV. But if AMEX will be unhappy, then they might go from forfeiting your rewards up to closing all your accounts with them and banning from applying in the future. Amex is not a good party to joke with.
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Nov 14, 2003
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LaLaLand
They won't notice. Retailers do not share item level information with American Express.
Jr. Member
Mar 25, 2015
193 posts
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batcave wrote: They won't notice. Retailers do not share item level information with American Express.
While this is true, they do get the information on amount spent on transaction. If person spent over 300$ on grocery bill its fairly straightforward that person bought something expensive there, and considering there isn't much that much expensive stuff, its probably gift card(s)...

Obviously, if it happens consistently it gets very obvious for end issuer of whats going on.
Sr. Member
Feb 8, 2015
577 posts
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Kanata
dimon222 wrote: While this is true, they do get the information on amount spent on transaction. If person spent over 300$ on grocery bill its fairly straightforward that person bought something expensive there, and considering there isn't much that much expensive stuff, its probably gift card(s)...

Obviously, if it happens consistently it gets very obvious for end issuer of whats going on.
What if OP's family is a family of 6 with 4 hungry teenagers? Also OP can buy a $500 gift card + a loaf of bread to make it $502.46

I could easily blow $300+ on purpose at a grocery store lmao.

-Expensive Microwave health food $5 per small tray x 10 =$50
-Expensive healthy bars like Larabar or Clif Bar $2.5per bar x 10 x 5 boxes = $125
-Case of alcohol $50
-Shrimps, Lobster
-Almond or Peacan nuts $20 per jar x 5 jars = $100
-Fillet mignon, special cuts of prime beef, etc
Jr. Member
Mar 25, 2015
193 posts
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garmium wrote: What if OP's family is a family of 6 with 4 hungry teenagers? Also OP can buy a $500 gift card + a loaf of bread to make it $502.46

I could easily blow $300+ on purpose at a grocery store lmao.

-Expensive Microwave health food $5 per small tray x 10 =$50
-Expensive healthy bars like Larabar or Clif Bar $2.5per bar x 10 x 5 boxes = $125
-Case of alcohol $50
-Shrimps, Lobster
-Almond or Peacan nuts $20 per jar x 5 jars = $100
-Fillet mignon, special cuts of prime beef, etc
Like I said... one time it makes sense, but every single visit it doesn't....
(I see no other reason to ask such question unless its meant to spend more than 1, so)
Jr. Member
Oct 7, 2020
179 posts
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dimon222 wrote: Like I said... one time it makes sense, but every single visit it doesn't....
(I see no other reason to ask such question unless its meant to spend more than 1, so)
I have yet to see a single DP of someone being Amexiled for buying gift cards in Canada, but it still makes me nervous, tbh.
Deal Guru
Dec 5, 2006
10816 posts
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Markham
dimon222 wrote: While this is true, they do get the information on amount spent on transaction. If person spent over 300$ on grocery bill its fairly straightforward that person bought something expensive there, and considering there isn't much that much expensive stuff, its probably gift card(s)...

Obviously, if it happens consistently it gets very obvious for end issuer of whats going on.
Tell this to Costco

To OP, do you need buy 500 GC one time or you can buy say 100 each weekend? But I don't think they will notice, just don't buy exact 500, add a banana lol
Jr. Member
Oct 11, 2007
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You will get your bonus sign up points, but then down the road they might check in and Amex you potentially.
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Aug 1, 2008
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smartie wrote: Tell this to Costco

To OP, do you need buy 500 GC one time or you can buy say 100 each weekend? But I don't think they will notice, just don't buy exact 500, add a banana lol
This, I always buy a banana, even when I do not buy GCs
I feel the need... the need for speed.
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Jun 15, 2005
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BCisBeautiful wrote: I have yet to see a single DP of someone being Amexiled for buying gift cards in Canada, but it still makes me nervous, tbh.
Yeah, I agree. There is nothing in the T&C that states you CAN’T buy gift cards. Just that those gift cards will not earn membership reward points or count towards meeting the required spending for sign up bonuses.
There are a ton of legitimate reasons for buying gift cards or prepaid mastercards with your AMEX each week.

AMEX Cobalt T&C:
“Interest charges, annual fees, other fees and cash equivalent transactions are not purchases and do not qualify for Membership Rewards points.”


With all of that said, it still makes me nervous and I wouldn’t suggest exploiting it. 1 card is FINE though.
Deal Guru
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Jan 9, 2011
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Vancouver
The rule of thumb I suggest is to be discreet about it. Multiple charges of $504.95 at Save On Foods every other day will likely be noticed by some algorithm, and if not, by some human who reviews your purchase history when you call up about something. Remember you risk having your points confiscated if Amex determines you earned them by buying or reloading gift cards. How big a risk it is is hard to say and is definitely debatable, but there is a risk. And if you are putting a lot more spending on your card than Amex thinks you should be based on your declared income, you are inviting a financial review.
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Mar 28, 2008
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I don't think credit card issuers will care much, BUT.......they may see you spend a lot then offer you a higher limit or offer you installment plans to choose (Of course it will come with a cost, or sometimes you may get a mercy offer). Unless you repeatedly buy the same inventory in a short time (It may trigger their fraud awareness team), you should be fine for a one-time purchase.
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Jan 9, 2011
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Poutinesauce wrote: Bleed Amex hard. Make them lose as much money as possible without making purchase patterns that could have you caught.

Screw them, they're a multi billion dollar corporation like any other. I don't feel the least bit sorry for them.
It’s not Amex I care about, it’s me. I could get booted from any other issuer—Rogers, Scotia, CIBC, brim, who cares. Plenty of other competition. But getting booted from Amex is another matter. It would be a big loss for me.
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Kiraly wrote: It’s not Amex I care about, it’s me. I could get booted from any other issuer—Rogers, Scotia, CIBC, brim, who cares. Plenty of other competition. But getting booted from Amex is another matter. It would be a big loss for me.
The solution is easy. When you buy gift cards, buy a few other groceries that are on sale and that you needed anyway. This way the amount will never be the same and they'll never know.

But even then I think it's probably overkill. So long as you're not having an absolutely egregious use of it, or they're trying to find a pretext to get rid of you because of excess churning, they'll never notice and never care.
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May 15, 2013
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garmium wrote: What if OP's family is a family of 6 with 4 hungry teenagers? Also OP can buy a $500 gift card + a loaf of bread to make it $502.46

I could easily blow $300+ on purpose at a grocery store lmao.

-Expensive Microwave health food $5 per small tray x 10 =$50
-Expensive healthy bars like Larabar or Clif Bar $2.5per bar x 10 x 5 boxes = $125
-Case of alcohol $50
-Shrimps, Lobster
-Almond or Peacan nuts $20 per jar x 5 jars = $100
-Fillet mignon, special cuts of prime beef, etc
It they are a family of 6 then it would be a common expense at the grocery store, so no issues.
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Jul 26, 2007
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Are you a call centre from India wanting to know some info about Canadian spending culture? ... Well that's what popped into my head when I read the title. Scammers doing their research before asking little ole lady to go to Walmart to buy $500 apple gc.
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Jul 20, 2017
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dimon222 wrote: While this is true, they do get the information on amount spent on transaction. If person spent over 300$ on grocery bill its fairly straightforward that person bought something expensive there, and considering there isn't much that much expensive stuff, its probably gift card(s)...

(Eg small time restaurants that aren't big enough to have big suppliers, office people who cater provide for an entire large office each day, etc, etc)

Obviously, if it happens consistently it gets very obvious for end issuer of whats going on.
While you may share your primary profession with amex, you do not have to share all of them. And it's 100% perfectly normal for $300-500+ grocery bills for many people of many professions even never buying giftcards.

Sure if every purchase is EXACTLY $500, maybe some script they run can look you up and put you in a monitoring group, but just plain ultra unlikely.

So yes even daily $500+ purchases they will not care.

Things start to look like manufacted spend once you hit that $30,000 cobalt limit, and start using additional cards with grocery multipliers. Unless you do that, they 100% guaranteed will never care.

Bottom line is amex treats their customers with respect, if you are not doing extreme gift card spend in the $30,000+ per year spend , they will be happy to have you as a customer.

Plus any single family can easily spend $500. It's a full cart of pricey food, but entirely doable. As a single guy living alone, i've done $300+ trips several times without really wasting anything. Sobeys is NOT cheap and they do sell very expensive food.
Member
Feb 27, 2011
208 posts
204 upvotes
One thing no one has mentioned yet is potential problems with purchasing a large $$ GC in the actual grocery store. My regular store requires a manager's approval for all GC purchases above $500 (per transaction, not per GC). Depending on the time of day, and how busy things are, that could mean a substantial wait time. Some chains also have policies against using any credit card for purchasing GCs above a certain $ amount, although (admittedly) I've only ever encountered this in policy, and not in practice.

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