Time To Put American Express Gift Checks on Your Gift List

Well, it’s getting close to that wonderful time of the year when the general public begins to scramble to find the best gift for their loved ones. Your dad does not want another novelty tie in his collection and your mom has enough decorative thimbles. So what is your next best option? You guessed it, an American Express Gift Check.

Originally introduced in 1988, these gifts have been making a resurgence in the last few years. They are a classic option for people that do not want to just get the regular gift card or prepaid card. People liked gifting these checks because they could be used almost anywhere real money was used. The checks also do not have an expiration date. So you do not have to worry about your mother-in-law forgetting that she has one and not using it.


So you have finally caved and decided to purchase a few checks for your family, but no one has a clue to how they are used. In actuality, it is fairly simple. They are widely accepted in thousands of businesses as a form of cash. You just hand it to the cashier and pay for whatever you are buying. Once the transaction is made if you have not used the entire face value of the check you will be refunded the difference. It is a very simple and easy alternative to a variety of gift options.

So how can you get your hands on a fresh stack of checks?

Getting them is just as easy as using them as well. Before the boom of the Internet, the best way you could purchase an American Express Gift Check would be at a bank. Standing in line and waiting for a god awful length of time. Now, however, you are able to order up to $1000 worth of checks online every 14 days. This is set in place to prevent the possibility of an unauthorized transaction happening. American Express offers a variety of packs and plans that you can choose from ranging from $25 to $100 checks. Usually, it takes about three business days before you receive your checks. If you don’t want to wait you can always do it the old way and go to a bank.

If you are on the receiving end of a gift check, there are a few things you must do before you decide to go to a retailer. First and foremost, you want to make sure you immediately endorse the check in the upper left-hand corner. Once you do that if you want to cash it you would need to go to your bank and have a banker witness you sign again before you are able to cash it.

My friend has a gift check they don’t want anymore can they gift it to me?

Yes. One of the best features is being able to re-gift the check if you don’t need it. To do this the recipient would have to witness you endorsing the check again. Then before you use it you want to make sure that you call American Express to make sure everything is taken care of.

Photo courtesy of American Express


AMEX Gift Checks are also protected.

Though they may seem a bit dated—we know you have not used a check since your first rent payment—but these checks work similarly to their plastic counterparts. For example, say you are on vacation and your gift check is stolen, you have the ability to be reimbursed all of your money that is lost. You want to make sure you call AMEX immediately to report it stolen.

American Express Gift Checks are also protected against death. Remember when we said gift checks do not expire? It’s for things like this. That’s right in the event of the recipient’s untimely death the beneficiary of their estate would be able to gain possession of the check. You do want to make sure you contact the American Express Travelers Cheque Customer Service Center to iron out all of the details.

Alright, stop with all the smoke these things can’t be that good.

Sadly, yes everything has a downside. The downside with these types of checks is the time that is used to actually use them. With all the technological advances banking has seen in recent years the gift check is a dinosaur to some. For example, you are not able to deposit the check at an ATM into your account. Also out goes the self-checkout lane at your favorite retail store. Since the check needs to be received by a cashier.

Another thing people gripe about is the probability of being able to use the check. Yes, we did say earlier that the checks can be used virtually anywhere, but there are some hiccups that you may encounter. For examples, online shopping and American Express Gift Checks do not mix too well. Since you need to have a witness to actually give the check to someone using the check online is all but impossible.

One issue that people run into is the customer service hoops they have to jump through to report a missing or stolen check. The process for reimbursement is cloudy and takes a long time before your claim is accepted. A few customers have also complained it took almost six weeks to receive a follow-up. Many people have also had complaints that they could not use the check at businesses that did not accept American Express.

So are AMEX Gift Cards really worth it?

In short, yes they are, you have the ability to give someone a gift that could potentially last their entire life. There aren’t that many gifts that can do that. Yes, you do run the risk of not being able to use them in certain places, but there are hundreds of places that will accept them. Sure you could regift that toaster that your grandmother gave you for your mother, but you run the risk of getting caught. Don’t be that guy; no one likes that guy. Go get a nice card and slip in a fresh $100 American Express Gift Check. You will thank us later.