Are you scrambling to spend all your incidental travel fee credit for your Amex Platinum before the year ends? Is Delta your designated airline? Then be careful how you buy Delta gift cards. Gift cards bought through the mobile version of Delta’s site are coding as actual gift cards, and therefore aren’t being reimbursed by Amex. Gift cards bought through the desktop site are, thankfully, not coding as obvious gift cards and are generally being reimbursed by Amex.
A Little Background
About a month ago I wrote about maximizing the airline credits of your premium credit cards (think Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige, Amex Platinum, and Chase Ritz card) before your December statement closes/before the end of the year, depending on which card you have and when your statement closes. It’s those credits more than any other annual benefit that make paying large annual fees worth it for those of us that travel often, since for us travel credit is basically like cash.
It’s a shame to see people forget and flush money down the toilet.
The Platinum Card from American Express’ travel credit is a little different than most premium credit cards. Not all travel expenses will trigger the credit, as is the case with the Sapphire Reserve and pretty much the case with the Citi Prestige.
How the Amex Platinum Card’s Travel Credit Works
Amex Platinum Cardholders get $200 in statement credits for incidental fees with your designated qualifying airline every calendar year.
The airline fee credit is supposed to be for “incidental fees” likes change fees, cancellation fees, and bag fees. The fee credit is not supposed to apply to ticket purchases, miles purchases, or gift card purchases.
But American Express’s computers decides whether a certain purchase qualifies for a fee credit, and in the experience of thousands of people, certain airline gift card purchases will result in a statement credit. That makes this benefit like getting $200 in free flights…or $400 if it’s your first year of card membership and/or you time the downgrade or cancellation right for the following year. There is a FlyerTalk thread devoted to each airline that you can select for fee reimbursement for people to post their experiences trying to purchase gift cards.
- American Airlines Thread
- Alaska Airlines Thread
- Delta Thread*
- Hawaiian Airlines Thread
- JetBlue Thread
- United Thread
- Southwest Thread
*The News About Delta Gift Cards
If you check out what’s being talked about on the Delta thread, you’ll see that it’s recently come to light that only gift cards purchased through the desktop version of Delta’s site, NOT the mobile version of the site, are triggering the incidental travel fee credit.
This is because gift cards purchased through the desktop site are issued by Delta Gift Cards, Inc. which is coding as “Delta Airlines” as far as Amex is concerned. Purchases on the mobile site are coding as Delta Airlines GC as they are processed by a company called CashStar. That’s what you don’t want to happen.
You’ll also want to buy Delta gift cards in increments of $50 or less for a better chance of triggering the credit, according to Doctor of Credit.
Choosing Your Designated Airline for 2018’s Incidental Travel Fee Credit
The time window to change your designated airline for a new year is January of the new year. If you don’t want the same designated airline for 2018 that you had in 2017, then make sure to change it by January 31.
Otherwise you’ll be stuck with the same airline as 2017, without the option to change it again until January of 2019.
You can select your designated airline online or call the number on the back of your Platinum card to do so.
Don’t buy gift cards through Delta’s mobile site if your goal is to have them reimbursed by American Express. Recent data points on Flyertalk show that the mobile version of Delta’s site processes gift card payments outside of Delta through an entity called CashStar, and Amex isn’t reimbursing Platinum cardholders as it’s obvious the charges are for gift cards (and gift cards are excluded in the terms of the Platinum as counting as an incidental travel expense).
Purchase Delta gift cards, in increments of $50 or less, on the desktop version of Delta’s site. These have been coding as Delta purchases are typically reimbursed by Delta.
Hat tip Doctor of Credit