Recovering from my Google Express Fail


a screenshot of a phone

Last month we reported an exciting offer for Google Express that was targeted to some Amex cardholders.  Those with the offer would get either $20 back or 2,000 Membership Rewards points when they spend $50 or more with Google Express.

The deal is pretty awesome for a number of reasons.  If you have Google Express in your area, you an use it to buy items from a large number of stores, and most stores offer free shipping with purchases of $25 or more.  So, if you manage to spend exactly $50 with one or more orders, this means getting either 40% off ($20 back with $50 purchase) or 40 Membership Rewards points per dollar ideally for things you would have bought anyway.  And if you can’t find things you really need, you may be able to find a useful gift card instead.

a screenshot of a gift card

7 out of 30

Between my wife’s cards, my cards, and our myriad authorized user cards, we currently have 30 Amex cards that are eligible for Amex Offers (See: Awesome Amex Offers and how to get them).  Out of those 30 cards, 7 had the Google Express offer.  5 were cash back offers and 2 were Membership Rewards offers.  All 7 were personal cards, not business cards.  I used the multi-tab trick and the old Amex interface to enroll all 7 cards with this offer (see: Complete guide to Amex Offers).  And my plan was simply to make 7 separate $50 orders, ideally for things we really need.  And if I find myself running out of time (the offer expires 12/28), I’ll buy some gift cards (if any are still in stock).

My Epic Fail

My first Google Express order was for things we actually needed: cat litter, shampoo, and more.  I adjusted the quantity of each item in order to get the total to just over $50.  In fact, Google Express estimated that the total after sales tax would be $50.56.  Perfect.

a close up of a button

Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that Google Express is shockingly bad at estimating totals.  When the items shipped, Google sent a new receipt where the total came short of $50.  $49.30 would not be enough to trigger the Amex Offer.  Oops!

a screenshot of a computer screen

Recovery Mode

Fortunately the Amex Offer allows you to reach $50 in “one or more transactions”.  So, I started wondering…  Can I buy something for 70 cents to complete the Amex Offer?  Most stores require $25 or more for free shipping.  Are there any stores within Google Express that have no minimum for free shipping?

One by one I check every Google Express store available to me…

a screenshot of a company logo

Yes!  I did find a few stores that had no minimum price for free shipping!  The first I found was a store called JustBallGloves.  After sorting by price, I saw that I could buy Glove Conditioner for $5.99 with free shipping.  Did I need Glove Conditioner?  Nope, but it would be enough to get me over the hump for the Google Express offer.

a screenshot of a store

I was encouraged by the JustBallGloves find, but I kept looking to see if I could get something cheap that I would actually use.  My next find was JustBats.  Their cheapest option was a youth baseball bat for $19.95.  No thanks.

a screenshot of a website

Moving on…

Next I found The Mine.  This one was very promising!  They carry little household doodads like a door stop spring for $1.36, or a doorknob for $1.41.  I don’t really need either, but that’s a tiny price to pay to trigger the $20 Amex Offer credit.  Still, I kept looking just in case I could find something that I actually wanted…

a screenshot of a store

My final find was a store called VMInnovations.  I found that they carry a number of items for less than $10.  They had a t-shirt on sale (now out of stock) that listed for only $3.50.  I bought it.  T-shirts always come in handy.  Other cheap items to consider from VMInnovations include assorted pool floats starting at $3.99 (including a fun looking Lobster Pool Raft for $9.95), gardening supplies, waterproof playing cards, and many other miscellaneous weird or useful things.

a screenshot of a product

a red and yellow inflatable lobster


Wrap Up

As shown above, I found a few Google Express stores that offer cheap items with no shipping charges.  If you find yourself short of spending the $50 required to trigger the Amex Offer, consider shopping at one of these stores.  Google Express lets you sort by price, but note that I’ve found cheaper items at times by clicking through to different categories within a store.

Savings at Google Express for First Time Shoppers

If this is your first time shopping at Google Express, you can get either $10 off your first order of $10 or more, or 20% off, with a max savings of $30.  The second is better if you spend over $50.  Neither works with gift card orders.

$10 off your first order

  • You can get $10 off your first order simply by using a friend’s referral code when you check-out.  Your friend will then get a $10 Google Express credit.  My referral code is GWL2LU2DN.  Or, simply click through this referral link and start shopping. Thank you!

20% off your first order, up to $30 in savings

  • If you spend more than $50 on your first order, you can save more than $10 by using code LETSBUY20.  Maximum savings with this code = $30.
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I bought 2 $25 Brinker gift cards from Target to resell and Google charged me $49.99, not triggering the offer. Really?

[…] Recovering from my Google Express Fail […]


I’m surprised you didn’t just ask Amex for the credit. Although I’ve had mixed results in the past:
Case A: Pet store owned by Petco but didn’t trigger offer. No problem.
Case B: Bought gas at a Mobil that was actually a Shell. I seemed to remember it being a Mobil and even googled to confirm. Well it was bought by Shell and they must have left an old webpage up. Chat and phone would not give me the freaking credit. I even escalated to the EO and they reluctantly gave me the 5 bucks. EO and I even called the gas station to verify that it was, indeed, now a Shell. That ought to be the next Sherlock plot. I find it ridiculous that CSRs are not authorized to credit 5 dollars.

So after B, I am loath to contact Amex for anything….


I ended up making another order from Costco of things I needed for the card I was $6 short on. The other card I was $1.50 under so I just ordered a $3.50 t-shirt from VMInnovations. They only showed small size in stock so I figure I’ll just donate to a clothing drive.


Thanks. Easy to read and informative post.


Just bought some Amazon card (via Staples @ Google Express). So they are back in stock for now.

[…] Recovering from my Google Express Fail by Frequent Miler. I tried to warn people of making sure you’re order isn’t super close to $50 due to this bad estimating, but if you got caught out then this post should help you greatly. […]

Sarah Capagal

hi Greg! I used it the ist time using your code & it went well. Thank u! & you’ll get the 10$ back too! Merry Christmas!!!


Good point on the searching issue; for some reason Google Express’ search function is awful if there are more than 100 hits.


I checked RetailMeNot and there is a 20% Code LETSBUY20 that worked for me, up to $30


Quick question on authorized users as their Amex card numbers are different. I have only one online account and registered for this offer for my SPG Amex. Does this mean I can get two $20 credits on two separate $50 purchases, one with my card and one with my wife’s card?


Not possible, considering: “One by one I check every Google Express store available to me…” And then you showed a picture of 40 stores.


How much time are you spending obsessing about this?

Christine B

Until today, I didn’t even know I needed a lobster pool raft.

Thank you for doing this kind of thing, so I don’t have to. I have this promo on 12 cards due to authorized users. Looks like I need to use it sooner rather than later to account for ship times and potential glitches in the process if I plan to make use of the offer.



The NEW20 code isn’t working for me and I’m certain I’ve never ordered from Google Express.


NEW20 didn’t work for me either but LETSBUY20 did. It’s 20% off (max $30) expiring 12/31.