American Express Gift Chain Promotion Success!

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Earlier this week I wrote about the Gift Chain promotion sponsored by American Express. In a quick recap, with every $25+ online purchase from a participating store you will receive an email giving you a surprise gift from American Express. With each registered credit card you can get up to 10 gifts. If you have not yet acted on this promotion, make sure to register first and then take a look below at my success. It will probably make you want to jump on this promotion!

Purchases with my Starwood American Express Credit Card:

  1. Purchase: RueLaLa item (would have purchased this anyways); Gift Received: Shoprunner Membership
  2. Purchase: $25 Pottery Barn Gift Card; Gift Received: $15 statement credit with another online purchase by 2/29/12
  3. Purchase: $25 Pottery Barn Gift Card; Gift Received: $4.50 statement credit
  4. Purchase: $25 Pottery Barn Gift Card; Gift Received: $10 AMEX gift card + 3 more to share with Facebook friends
  5. Purchase: $25 Pottery Barn Gift Card; Gift Received: $10 AMEX gift card + 3 more to share with Facebook friends
  6. Purchase: $25 Pottery Barn Gift Card; Gift Received: $2 Dunkin Donuts gift cards + 3 more to share with Facebook friends
  7. Purchase: $25 Pottery Barn Gift Card; Gift Received: $5 statement credit
  8. Purchase: $25 Pottery Barn Gift Card; Gift Received: $5 statement credit
  9. Purchase: $25 Pottery Barn Gift Card; Gift Received: $25 AMEX gift card + 3 more to share with Facebook friends
  10. Purchase: $25 Pottery Barn Gift Card; Gift Received: 4 $5 Starbucks gift card

Total:

  • Statement credits = $29.50
  • American Express gift cards = $180
  • Dunkin Donuts gift cards = $8
  • Starbucks gift cards = $20

Ultimately, I purchased $225 worth of Pottery Barn gift cards and ended up with $229.50 worth of cash items. Since I eat at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks every now and then, I think of those gift cards as cash as I would be shelling out cash there anyways. The gifts that included items for 3 Facebook friends were shared with my husband, my mom, and my sister. Of course I made them put in my address when redeeming (sorry mom and sis)! In my mind, I essentially got $225 worth of Pottery Barn gift cards for free plus an additional $4.50.

After purchasing my items, I then moved onto my husband’s American Express credit card. He is probably wishing that he never gave me his new American Express card number! With 9 purchases ($225 worth of Pottery Barn gift cards), I did not do as well. I got $60 in statement credits, $16 in Dunkin Donuts gift cards, and $20 in Starbucks gift cards – a total of $96. Since I will be using Pottery Barn gift cards in the future, I like to think that I got my $225 gift cards at 43% off!

Why did I purchase Pottery Barn gift cards instead of shopping at other participating stores? Pottery Barn is not giving out the shoprunner.com membership. I already have one, I really did not want another! To me, that is the worst gift and has $0 value. There are a few other participating stores that are also not giving out shoprunner.com memberships, but I really had no usage for gift cards at those stores. They include: Nike.com, REI.com, PotteryBarn.com, Zappos.com, YoYo.com, and Venteprivee.com.

Keep in mind that gifts are limiting and can run out. Once all the gifts run out, American Express has rollover gifts which include ShopRunner Memberships and $2 statement credits. Once you start seeing a ShopRunner Membership gift from a non-ShopRunner store, that means all their gifts have been given out and the promotion is essentially over from that store. You can view all the gifts here.

Let me know your success!

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Comments

  1. On any of these transactions, did you experience a “lag” in getting the gift notice?
    My first purchase got a nearly immediate email, but I have yet to get a gift from my second purchase (at Venteprivee) made nearly a week ago.

    Thank you for the thorough round-up!

    Other travel bloggers have reported the same results as you have, where one spouse really cleaned up, but the other didn’t fare nearly as well!

    • @Summer – I actually had pretty good experience, but I have heard from others that they had a delay or never received the email at all. My first purchase was yesterday and the email came in the middle of the night. The rest of my purchases were today and all came within about 3-5 minutes after the purchase.

    • @Ken – That is good to know, but I am not sure from personal experience. I did read comments on other blogs and it seems as though that rumor might be true.

  2. You did very well. I used 10x$25 WM GCs and yielded $51 in cash plus the shop runner. I’ll take a 20% discount all day long. We spend $$$ at Sam’s, so these cards won’t last long.

    I’ve actually already used the shop runner to get a $13 laptop bag, but that seems likely to be the exception rather than the rule.

    Summer, I got nearly immediate emails, except on the 3rd purchase. That was a $25 statement credit and took about 18 hours to show up. About 3 hours after that I got the notorious ‘blank’ email for the same gift. Maybe you’re going to get a BIG gift… but 7 days is a long time.

    A later GC purchase supposedly triggered the $25 statement credit, but NONE of the charges have posted yet.. even though I got the physical GCs yesterday.

  3. Needless to say, I shop at REI. šŸ˜€ You did much better than I did buying $25 REI gift cards. Here’s my results:

    Gift 1: 250 Membership Rewards points.
    Gift 2: Shareable $10 American Express Gift Cards. 1 for you and 3 to share with friends on Facebook.
    Gift 3: $5 statement credit.
    Gift 4: 250 Membership Rewards points.
    Gift 5: 250 Membership Rewards points.
    Gift 6: $5 statement credit.
    Gift 7: $5 statement credit.
    Gift 8: 250 Membership Rewards points.
    Gift 9: $5 statement credit.
    Gift 10: $5 statement credit.

    That said, I was able to use ebates and got 6% cash back so my total haul was roughly $100 in value.

    In hindsight, I think the best strategy would have been to buy at merchants with the highest odds for the more valuable gifts (and aren’t yet giving out rollover gifts). REI isn’t giving out rollover gifts (yet), but they are pretty stingy looking at the number of high value gifts vs. low value gifts.

  4. BTW, out of boredom and curiosity I did some analysis. Here’s what I came up with for the expected value of 10 gifts. I valued shoprunner gifts at $0 (and limited them to 1 of 10 gifts if the merchant had them as gifts), but otherwise used AMEX’s value for the gifts. This ignores the cost to get the 10 gifts which is why, e.g. bluenile.com isn’t necessarily the best option! I guess REI wasn’t so bad a choice for me after all, since I value REI gift cards at close to face value…

    Expected value of 10 gifts
    278 BLUENILE.COM
    260 LENOVO.COM
    177 DELL.COM
    177 NIKE.COM
    176 BEDBATHANDBEYOND.COM
    164 RUELALA.COM
    162 POTTERYBARN.COM
    159 REI.COM
    157 LENOVO.COM
    156 GAMESTOP.COM
    155 JCREW.COM
    152 AE.COM
    142 TOYSRUS.COM
    138 ZAPPOS.COM
    133 WALMART.COM
    130 YOYO.COM
    125 US.VENTEPRIVEE.COM

    • @HikerT – Love the analysis! I did 10 gift cards at REI on another AMEX card and still ended up with a 37% return, not too bad!

  5. I bought Bed Bath gift cards (using the AA shopping portal of course) and had the following success (for some reason, my 10th purchase never got a gift though!) I figure I can couple them with the 20% discount coupons they always send, so it will be a good value for me.

    1 year ShopRunner Membership ā€“ Value = $0
    $10 statement credit
    500 Membership Reward Points
    $5 statement credit
    250 Membership Reward Points
    $5 statement credit
    $10 Amex Gift Card
    $5 statement credit
    $2 Dunkin Donuts Gift Cards. 1 for you and 3 to share with friends on Facebook.

    You did much better than me too!!!

  6. Hello,

    Does anyone know if one can buy Dell egift cards through this promotion?

    Presently, Dell is running a promotion where for every $300 in egift cards gifted to someone the purchaser receives a $50 egift card.

    I am trying to see if I can take advantage of both promotions simultaneously.

    • @Chirag – You can absolutely take advantage of both. A long as you have a $25+ purchase at Dell and use your Amex card you will receive some gift.

  7. I sent in 10 envelopes to enter with no purchase and ended up with:

    Shoprunner
    $10 Amex gift card + 3 for FB friends
    $20 Amex gift card
    $4.50 statement credit
    $5 statement credit
    $45 statement credit
    $25 Kiehl’s gift certificate
    $2 Dunkin gift card + 3 for FB friends (x2)

    Not bad for 15 minutes of writing my address by hand, addressing envelopes, and $4.40 in postage!

  8. Anyone else have issues receiving the gift emails? I successfully registered my card and have made 7 purchases over $25 with that card at PB to date. Have called Amex twice and they’ve “forwarded to the Gift Chain Department”. Nothing yet. Am I the only one?

    • @Stephleslie – I received all my emails but have heard from a few who did not receive one or two. Amex corporate was not able to help?

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