Rookie Wednesday: Do annual fees count toward your yearly Delta AMEX MQM spend? A warning to over pay or else!

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

twitter 25 percent get it wrong about amex annual fee

How would you have voted?

The other day I popped up a quick twitter poll to see what seems obvious to me and I even mention this very topic over and over when talking about earning Delta bonus MQMs via AMEX spend on either the Delta AMEX Platinum (personal or business) or the Delta AMEX Reserve card (personal or business). Both of these come with rather large annual fees – that is, $195 for the first two and $450 for the second two. I have personally held the Delta AMEX business Reserve card for years and years and keep paying the fee for the value it provides. But take a look at the poll at the top of the post.


25% of twitter followers got this one wrong and that really bothers me. I thought I covered this one enough but clearly I need a Wednesday Rookie post all on it’s own to cover this. Let me be clear on this:


Plus, it is not like AMEX does not make it clear in the “T&C” or the terms and conditions that any fees including the annual fee are excluded from the totals. Take a look the highlighted wording in the screen shot below:

the t&c say fees do not count

AMEX makes this very clear

So we know when it comes to spending to reach the goals of 25/50k for both bonus offers with the Delta AMEX Platinum card or the 30/60k with the Delta AMEX Reserve cards we need to over spend by enough to cover the the annual fee.

reader jack missed the bonus due to the card annual fee


Now I know it can be super frustrating. This is one of the reasons I tell folks never ever to call AMEX or trust what any rep says on the phone. I always suggest chat and do screen shots. But even the statements that show you how much you have spent per year can include the annual fee as part of your spend total so I get that it can be confusing. I totally empathize with reader Jack who btw has been a AMEX card holder for a VERY long time but he is likely stuck at this point with little he can do but to make sure next year he over spends by enough to cover his fee.

wording showing spend on your delta amex reserve card statement

Can you really trust these statement numbers?

And that is the key – make sure you hit your goal and over spend. But there is more to it that just that. I am again simply shocked that anyone can come up just a few hundred dollars short at the end of the year. Why would you risk this?

Again, it took me just 7 days this year to spend 25k (and a few more for 30k).

I have already posted that I got my first 15,000 bonus MQMs for this year and have given them away to a friend. I will soon have my next 30k spend done when I end up paying taxes in April. Then I will simply put down my Delta AMEX Reserve card and not spend another penny on it until 1JAN18 as there is simply no point. I can earn SOOOOOO much more return on other cards and when I can no long earn MQMs, spend on my Delta cards is all but pointless (no pun intended – but it works).

Plus, as mentioned in the post this past Monday about the fact that quickly meeting at least $25,000 in spend each year helps with upgrades is yet another reason not to push it to the very end of the year beyond the risk of coming up short.

Lastly, I know what some will comment already. They will say something like: “Hey René, the T&C says lots of other stuff does not count but you show each year it does”. Well, that is true. But that is why I test it each year. There are things that have for years not been enforced and one sad day that may be the case since it IS in the T&C just like the annual fee. But for now, we learn what works and what does not and we plan accordingly! – René


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  1. Hi Rene,

    Quick question. I know what the T&Cs state, but I also know this is not always the case… Do AMEX gift cards purchased directly through the AMEX website count for MQM spend?


  2. @Michael – As mentioned in this and the other post, the T&C exclude gift cards. However, as of today, they are counting. In the past when you could get 3k cards and the bonus money back via TopCashBack this was a VERY nice way to get paid for spend. Today, with max $200 cards paying out money back, it is much less used vs other means in the linked 1JAN post.

  3. Thank you for continuing to TEST and REPORT what really counts toward spend thresholds regardless of what the T&C says. I knew annual card fees were excluded but was shocked today to learn that gift cards are also excluded. Even though your testing shows otherwise.

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