A few weeks ago I shared my thoughts on introducing American Express gift cards into a miles and points strategy. At that point, I had successfully clicked through to Barclaycard's RewardsBoost shopping portal, purchased a personalized gift card for around $2,000, and seen the Barclaycard Arrival miles post to my account.
As I shared in my April 5th roundup, many shopping portals are currently offering higher-than-usual payouts for these gift card orders, so I went ahead and purchased several thousand dollars worth of business gift cards with my Delta Platinum Business American Express card.
I placed the order on April 7th, and the next morning I received an e-mail from American Express saying:
"Your order was not fulfilled for the following reasons: We could not verify your order information and cannot approve your order at this time."
As has been widely reported, and as a reader confirmed in the comments to my original post, American Express very frequently declines orders based on an algorithm known only to them. It's not a huge deal, although if you're urgently trying to hit a minimum spending requirement or spend threshold, it can easily throw off even the most careful planning.
After a decline, your credit line doesn't immediately become available
When an order is cancelled, it can take a relatively long time for your credit line to become available again. I reported on this odd timeframe in my original post, explaining that my pending March 8 charge disappeared on the 10th, only to reappear as a posted transaction on March 15.
Having experienced my first declined order, I want to share that it appears the same is true with these unsuccessful transactions. The pending charge for my April 7th order remained in my pending charges until today, when it disappeared. However, my credit line in the amount of the charge still hasn’t become available. I expect it will do so tomorrow or Monday.
Takeaway: don’t rely on American Express gift cards if you have an urgent spending deadline
While American Express gift cards are great ways to buy miles and points at a potentially negative net cost, declined transactions can slow you down and keep you from meeting time-sensitive thresholds. If you really need a certain amount of spend in a limited time frame, use a more reliable method.