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How to Check the Balance on an American Express Gift Card

Susan Weber
woman shopping online

You can easily check your American Express gift card balance online or by making a toll-free phone call. Be sure you understand how your Available Balance is calculated before you present your card to pay for a transaction.

American Express Gift Card Balance

When you receive an American Express gift card the balance on the card will be prepaid by the purchaser. The balance, called the "Available Balance" could start at any amount from $25 up to $35,000 for business incentive programs. Typically, you will receive the gift card with information on how to use the card as well as the Available Balance on the card.

Checking the Balance

It is easy to check the amount of funds on your American Express gift card. All you need to do is either:

Regardless of whether you check your balance by phone or online, you will need to confirm your gift card number and the 3-digit Security Code. The Security Code is printed on the back of the gift card in the signature panel.

Your Available Balance will include all transactions which have been authorized by merchants.

How the Balance Is Calculated

The Available Balance on your gift card can be reduced in two ways:

  • Make a purchase - The full amount of the purchase plus any taxes will be deducted from your Available Balance.
  • Merchant assumes a tip - Some merchants such as restaurants and service providers regularly receive gratuities in addition to the actual price of the transaction. When these merchants are given a gift card to pay for a transaction, they may add a projected gratuity onto the amount of the purchase when checking the Available Balance. If the transaction is approved, the Available Balance will be reduced by the amount of the purchase plus the projected gratuity. Days later, when the actual transaction is posted by the merchant, any differences between the amount deducted when the merchant checked the balance and the actual amount of the transaction will be deducted from the gift card balance.

For example, if you present your gift card at a restaurant to pay the bill, the merchant is likely to add a tip (such as 20 percent) to the amount of the bill when checking the Available Balance on the gift card. If the transaction is approved and you only leave a 15 percent tip, the 5 percent will be credited back to your gift card when the transaction is posted by the merchant. It usually takes about three business days for a transaction to be posted and accurately reflected in your Available Balance.

Expiration Dates

The Available Balance on a gift card does not expire; however, the card does have a "Valid Thru" date on the front of the gift card. This Valid Thru date is used by merchants whose systems require them to provide an expiration date for cards used during a transaction. You can't use the gift card after the "valid thru" date, but you can request a replacement card free of charge if the if the "valid thru" date expires before you spend your Available Balance.

How to Check the Balance on an American Express Gift Card