American Express gift card online use
December 22, 2013 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I just used a $25 American Express gift card for an Amazon order that was more than $25. What happens now?

For the name of the card, I put "A Gift for You"; for the billing address I put my home address. I was hoping I could use up the gift card and then pay for the balance of the order on another card. However, the entire order went through, even though the amount of the card should have been insufficient for the order.

What will happen now? Will I get the items I ordered? Might I get a bill in the mail for the balance of the order?

I ask because I still have the order confirmation page open and could change the payment option. On the one hand I want to make sure I get these items, so I'm tempted to change to a card that I know will go through for the whole order. On the other hand, I don't want to change to another card, and then try to use the original gift card again in another place and have it register as being used up (and thereby losing the $25).
posted by lewedswiver to Work & Money (16 answers total)
Is it possible you have another card already saved with Amazon?
posted by spitbull at 11:03 AM on December 22, 2013

Have you checked your email? Any time I've had a card declined (I have a few items on the Subscribe and Save plan, and sometimes I forget to put money on my debit card in time) they have always emailed me to tell me my payment didn't go through.

I sincerely doubt they would just not send you the items without giving you a chance to straighten out the payment issues.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 11:08 AM on December 22, 2013

There's an order confirmation from Amazon that seems very standard.

"We'd like to let you know that Amazon has received your order, and is preparing it for shipment. Your estimated delivery date is below."

I do have other cards saved with Amazon, but I've never used or saved an Amex card. The order confirmation definitely says that it processed an Amex card with the last 4 digits that are my gift card.
posted by lewedswiver at 11:15 AM on December 22, 2013

Did you have any gift cards stored in your Amazon account? I've seen "also use £x.xx in gift cards" as a part of the checkout process, when I have some applied to my account.
posted by Solomon at 11:17 AM on December 22, 2013

I'm pretty sure Amazon only charges your card when it ships. If it is an order confirmation, they haven't charged your card yet and they're merely confirming the details.
posted by cyml at 11:25 AM on December 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

When I've bought stuff with an Amazon gift card that wasn't equal to the total, it uses up the gift card and then bills the rest to the card I have on file. I don't recall that it makes this particularly obvious, but then, the Amazon checkout process is a greased slope on purpose.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:25 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you have any other payment options stored on your Amazon account (gift cards, credits from previous returns/exchanges, a credit or debit card), they will use those to cover the balance that your Amex gift card did not cover.

If you have no other payment options stored, then in the next few hours or days you'll receive an email from Amazon stating that your order is on hold because your payment method has failed, and it will indicate that you need to log into your account and update your payment info.
posted by palomar at 11:26 AM on December 22, 2013

Not to my knowledge, no. There is 0.00 under Amazon gift cards, and the credit cards I have saved are just credit cards, not gift cards.

(Conceivably they could have used one of the other credit cards, but I would have hoped they would have me approve that before doing so. There are two credit cards saved that I know about and actively use, and two old ones which I believe are the same account as one of the known ones, but were cancelled by me after losing them. I think. I very much hope an active confirmation by me to use one of the other accounts would have been necessary, because I'm not 100% sure what those two numbers are.)
posted by lewedswiver at 11:26 AM on December 22, 2013

You could chat with Amazon help to find out what you should do.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:26 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would suggest contacting Amazon directly. I was used as payment, by accident, a card that had been cancelled or something. I didn't find out from Amazon that the card didn't go through until a few days later.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:45 AM on December 22, 2013

Assuming the balance wasn't charged to a saved card, the order will be placed on hold and Amazon will contact you to secure payment before the order ships. If you call them you can get ahead of this to avoid delays in processing.
posted by marmago at 11:53 AM on December 22, 2013

I have done this before (using a gift card that I didn't know the value of). You will get an email saying that the card didn't work, and asking you to select another method of payment. It is my recollection that it won't use the gift card at all, but will just ask you to replace it entirely. The order won't ship until you select another method of payment.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:55 AM on December 22, 2013

I got a message that the card was now declined and it requested a new payment option. Resubmitted and all good.

posted by lewedswiver at 11:59 AM on December 22, 2013

For what it's worth, saving a credit card in your account specifically gives Amazon permission to charge it as necessary. Be very careful about this if you're expecting some specific further authorization.
posted by odinsdream at 12:07 PM on December 22, 2013

By the way, you may again have a problem with it. With an AmEx gift card, Amazon needs you to use the gift card to buy an Amazon gift card, and then use the Amazon gift card for your purchase.

But wait! It gets even more complicated! In your first purchase with the Amex Gift Card, Amazon does a "test" authorization for $1, so if you purchase a $25 Amazon Gift Card, your Amex will be "charged" $26. Therefore, buy one Amazon gift card equal to $24 or less, and then, a day or two later, buy a second Amazon gift card equal to the balance. The way you entered the card is exactly right (i.e., "A Gift For You").

Can you tell I've done this a time or two?
posted by janey47 at 10:57 AM on December 23, 2013

Actually, not sure if they still do the test authorization - I bought two gift cards in exactly the balances of two prepaid cards (visa and amex) and just used my name as the name. They both went through and I had no trouble redeeming the balance. Make of that what you will.

You may just be able to buy a $25 amazon credit easily which is a lot easier to apply to part of an order.
posted by R a c h e l at 9:48 PM on December 23, 2013

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