UPDATE: There is now a NEW American Express offer for July, good through 7/31/12. Buy a $50 pre-paid American Express card and get a free $10 American Express gift card.
American Express has an excellent, easy new offer out: order an American Express pre-paid card, load $200 or more at the time of order and receive a complimentary $25 gift card as a bonus.
That's it. Awesome.
The American Express pre-paid card spends just like cash wherever regular American Express cards are accepted, with no fees. You even get the fraud protection and roadside assistance programs of regular American Express memberships. There are no annual fees, no monthly fees, no customer service fees, no credit checks to get it (though you will need to enter your social security number), no overdraft fees (you spend what you load on the card), no transaction fees, and you even get one free ATM withdrawal per month (after one withdrawal, you'll be charged $2 for each one).
I ordered one card for myself and one for my husband, and we've already received them and used them with no problem. To me, this was a no-brainer easy $50 for the inconvenience of moving around $400. This cost nothing to do, as I've just been using the pre-paid cards the same way I use my regular American Express cards. These cards are also great to use at Costco, as they accept only checks, debits and AmEx cards. You can also just withdraw the cash. (The two $25 gift cards will go directly into our iPad savings fund.)
Some helpful instructions: when you buy a $200 prepaid American Express card using your checking account, American Express will simultaneously put two tiny deposits and one tiny withdrawal through your checking account (the amounts will zero out). This is just to confirm that it is indeed your checking account. When you see these amounts showing up on your account, go to http://www.AmericanExpress.com/prepaid, log in and enter the two deposit amounts. Once you do that, your prepaid card order will go through on your checking account, and you should receive your cards shortly after that.
When you use the $200 prepaid cards, make sure you leave at least $1 on each card, as the cards need to be active when you receive the bonus gift cards. If you've already taken out all the money, simply go online and put another $10 on the card and keep it there until you receive the $25 gift card.
The special $25 gift card offer ends 6/30/12. You do not need to already have a American Express card to qualify for this offer. Limit one $25 gift card per user named on the card. Allow six weeks for the $25 gift card to be shipped to the card purchaser. Standard shipping on the pre-paid card is free.
You do not need to enter a promo code. Click through this special link to qualify for this $25 American Express gift card offer.