American Express Gift Card (AXP)
American Express still charges a $3.95 purchase fee for the privilege of buying its gift cards, but that fee upfront spares users more fees down the road and opens up a ton of options for undecided shoppers. If buyers go with an e-card instead, even that $4 isn't an issue.
American Express dropped the expiration dates and monthly fees on its gift cards ahead of last year's CARD Act and allows users to replace lost, stolen or damaged cards for free and get full refunds for unused cards. For the average gift giver, it's like handing someone $25 to $3,000 at once -- or as much as $5,000 on two cards -- and sending them on a shopping spree anywhere in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that takes American Express (except cruise lines, casinos and ATMs).
The only problem is that a user can't redeem them outside the United States, which means no restaurant tours of Europe or meandering through Asian markets. Holiday shoppers in Hawaii and Vermont are out of luck as well, as American Express doesn't deliver gift cards to either state and won't allow potential e-card buyers in those places to make those purchases.
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