Quick hit: activating Sam's Club gift cards

Back in June I wrote about my super-boring strategy to take advantage of an American Express Offer for You of $20 off $20 or more spent at Sam's Club.

It turned out to be anything but boring: only today was the last of my $50 Sam's Club gift cards activated. Here's the story, and some advice on how to proceed if you've been having trouble with your own gift cards.

Activating Sam's Club gift cards is supposed to be easy

When $50 Sam's Club gift cards are shipped, you receive two e-mails, confusingly with almost identical subject lines:

  • Your UPS shipping confirmation and tracking number is in an e-mail with the subject line "Your SamsClub.com order has shipped‏;"
  • The link to activate your Sam's Club gift cards is sent almost simultaneously, and has the subject line "Your Sam's Club Gift Card has Shipped‏."

If you don't know that Sam's Club gift cards require activation in the first place, you might be forgiven for not even opening the apparently-duplicate e-mails.


Here's what my inbox looked like:

As you can see, half are actual shipment notifications, and half are activation codes.

The activation process is unreliable

Sometimes clicking on the activation link works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sam's Club is aware of the problem.

When cards won't activate, you need to call

To have your cards manually activated, call the number on your receipt (888-537-5503) and select menu options 3, 5, and 7, in that order. You'll be connected very quickly (within a few seconds) to a representative, who will ask for your order number, shipping and billing address, and the gift card number.

The gift card number they need is the number underneath the silver strip

Sam's Club phone representatives have apparently never actually seen Sam's Club gift cards, and every single representative I spoke to asked me for "the number on the back of the card." If you look at an actual gift card, however, you'll immediately see that there are 3 "numbers on the back of the card," and not one representative knew which number they needed to send an activation request.

It turns out it's the gift card number located under the scratch-away silver strip.

If at first you don't succeed, call, call again

My orders were shipped between June 3 and June 5, and were just finally activated on July 6 and July 7. That's a long time, and I wasn't sitting idle; I was calling every 2-3 days in order to find out the status of the activation request. In fact, I didn't make any progress until I had the phone representative open an actual support ticket, which finally seemed to set the gears in motion, and my cards were all activated within 5-6 days after that.


At the end of the day (or, in this case, the end of a month of waiting), I got a few hundred dollars of household supplies from Walmart at a generous 70% discount through this American Express Offer for You, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat, even knowing how much of an aggravation it would turn out to be. Walmart sells a lot of useful things!

I hope this post will reduce any readers' aggravation if they find themselves going through the same process, now or in the future.