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What should I know about using a Gift Card?

American Express® Gift Cards and Business Gift Cards can be used virtually anywhere American Express is accepted in the US.

Your Gift Card may be declined if there aren’t enough available funds to cover the amount of your purchase or a pre-authorization request. 

Some types of businesses request a pre-authorization for a dollar amount that may be higher than your actual purchase. For example:

  • Gas stations may pre-program the pump to pre-authorize a fixed dollar amount, so we recommend that you pay inside the station.
  • Tip oriented businesses such as restaurants, spas or hair salons may add a fixed percentage (i.e. 20%) to the bill meant to cover a tip. To avoid this, you may request the business to authorize a specific dollar amount.

If a business pre-authorizes for an amount greater than the actual purchase, the available balance of your Gift Card will be temporarily decreased by this amount until the actual transaction posts, typically until the eighth day after your purchase. Only the final amount of the purchase will ultimately be deducted from your Gift Card.

We recommend that you keep track of your available balance to avoid declines.