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Emptying Your 6% Cash Back via ATM and Cash Advance

Two readers, Kelly and Barbara, are taking the 6% from Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express [1] straight to the bank, literally!

Barbara first came up with the idea to cash out the gift cards for actual cash instead of using the cards for spending in our American Express 6% Cash Back Q & A [2].

After they reported back on their test runs at the bank, I’m more than excited at the potential this card has!

Cashing Out at the ATM

Kelly was originally working on using the gift cards for large payments but couldn’t resist the challenge of cashing out the gift cards at the ATM. Here’s a summary of Kelly’s adventures:

  • Kelly bought a $500 PayPower brand gift card with her Amex Blue Cash Preferred [1] at the grocery store (Safeway) to earn 6% cash back.
  • She activated the gift card and established a PIN number.
  • She cashed out the gift card at an ATM, paying a $3 ATM fee and $1.95 to PayPower.

Her comments:

In my learning process I ended up making two withdrawals and paying the fees twice. Keep in mind that even though you loaded the card with a value of $500 you’ll probably only be able to withdraw $480 at the ATM because most ATM’s only allow you to withdraw in multiples of $20 and because there has to be enough money on the card to cover both the ATM’s fee and PayPower’s ATM withdrawal fee….
Also, with the PayPower cards they require you to provide your Social Security number to them and from what I’ve read looks like you’re only allowed one PayPower card per person. That’s the other reason I think I’d have trouble repeating this, if I tried to buy another PayPower card I think I’d have trouble with PayPower’s verification process.

I promised Kelly that next time I’m at the grocery store I’ll check to see which brand of gift cards allow ATM withdrawals in our area so we can help Kelly expand beyond the PayPower cards. If anyone else has names of other gift cards that allow ATM withdrawals let me know and we can start a list.

Cashing Out with a Cash Advance

And I’m really excited to report that Barbara is back from her mission and has another way to empty the gift cards: cash advance. Here’s a summary of Barabara’s adventures:

  • Barbara bought a $500 Visa prepaid card with her Amex Blue Cash Preferred [1] at the grocery store to earn 6% cash back.
  • She paid a $3.95 activation fee.
  • She took the card to the bank and asked for a $498 cash advance. She kept $2 on the card to cover the cash advance fee.

Her comments:

In less than five minutes, I had $498 deposited to my account. Then I came home and checked the account online and for whatever reason, Visa did not charge me $2 so I have $2 remaining on the card. Glad I did not cut it up.

I’m glad you didn’t cut it up either! We found the easiest way to empty out small amounts left on various cards was to just add them to our Amazon [3] account for the holidays.

Let’s Do the Math

We covered the basics of the American Express 6% Cash Back Credit Card [4] when buying gift cards for the purposes of spending. Now let’s take a look at the math for cashing out the gift cards instead:

  • Earn 6% cash back on the gift card purchase at the grocery store.
  • Pay a $3.95 activation fee, and possible $2 cash advance fee.
  • Earn $30.24 in cash back, less $5.95 in fees.
  • Pure profit for each card: $24.29
  • Multiply and repeat: ???

Wow. I’m only imagining at this point, but using just a portion of a $15,000 credit limit (saving some for actual groceries and other purchases), you could buy 20 cards a month for an extra $485 per month in free money….

And this is before we even talk about the gas rewards [5]!

Blue Cash $150 Sign Up Bonus

This card just keeps getting better. American Express increased the sign up bonus for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred [1] card to $150. Just spend $1,000 in the first 3 months… which shouldn’t be too hard now that we can cash out the gift cards!