I took matters into my own hands.
Now that Delta Air Lines gift cards no longer credit back as airline incidentals on The Platinum Card from American Express, Business Platinum Card from American Express. and American Express Gold Card, many of us are scrambling to find ways to use our $200 (or $100 with the Gold Card) before the year ends.
So I made several different purchases to see which — if any — Amex would reimburse.
Below are my findings. Again, this is what worked and didn’t credited for me. There’s always the chance that what worked for me might not for you — or vice versa — especially with Amex perhaps tweaking what’s allowable as incidentals.
Also worth mentioning: I didn’t charge anything such as checked bags and onboard food and drink. We know those are explicitly stated as reimbursable expenses.
YES: Delta SkyMiles Select
We covered this last week. Delta’s new SkyMiles Select program — which bestows Main Cabin 1 boarding, eight drink tickets, and a limited edition brag tag — does trigger the American Express airline incidental credit.
I had $55.74 of airline incidental credit remaining on my personal/consumer Platinum Card from American Express. All of it applied toward my SkyMiles Select purchase.
For what it’s worth, buying SkyMiles Select also earned me $59 MQD.
NO: Delta Gift Cards in Sky Clubs
Delta gift cards available in Sky Clubs aren’t actually purchased and activated onsite. Instead, you physically remove an unpaid gift card from the lounge and pay for it online at your convenience. Because we know gift cards no longer credit back, don’t waste your time or money.
YES: SkyMiles Mileage Booster
Reader DLPTATL tipped us off to this one (thank you!).
I used my Business Platinum Card from American Express to confirm the Mileage Booster would indeed credit as part of my airline incidentals.
But paying roughly two cents per SkyMile made me slightly ill.
YES: Delta Sky Club Guest Admission
When my daughter turned two, she needed her own paid seat on flights — and no longer received complimentary admission to Delta Sky Clubs.
We charged her $29 admission fee to my Business Platinum Card from American Express and received a $29 statement credit a few days later.
NO: First Class Monetization / Paid Upgrades
I have several short flights in the next few weeks. One of them offered me the chance to pony up $74 and jump from Comfort+ to first class.
I figured, hey, if SkyMiles Select credits back, maybe an upgrade will! So I whipped out my Business Platinum Card from American Express —
— and paid $74 I’m never getting back.
YES: 9/11 Fees on Companion Certificate Trip Purchases
Four Delta American Express cards (which do not include annual airline credit) give cardholders an annual companion certificate/BOGO for select fares. This benefit kicks in during year two of card membership. Delta Amexes with companion certificates are:
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card from American Express
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express
One does not need to use a Delta Amex to pay for a companion certificate trip. Any American Express card will do.
I personally use the Platinum Card from American Express because it awards 5X on all airline purchases.
As you can see from the example below, the $11.20 worth of 9/11 security fees credited as airline incidentals.
NO: Premium Drinks from THE BAR at Delta Sky Clubs
I’ve purchased premium liquor from Sky Clubs on a few occasions. Each time, the vendor of record was the specific Sky Clubitself — not Delta Air Lines. Here are a couple of examples.
I have a trip coming up in a few days. Perhaps I should purchase a delicious Booker’s bourbon at a Sky Club and pay with my American Express Gold Card. Perhaps it will credit as a restaurant and earn 4X? Or maybe I’ll use my Chase Sapphire Reserve to see if earns 3X as a travel expense.
Perhaps I’ll try both. Y’know, for science. 😉
MAYBE/YMMV: Cash Balance on Pay with Miles Tickets
This gets a “Maybe/YMMV” (“Your Mileage May Vary”) because I experienced mixed results.
In February, I applied 50,000 SkyMiles toward a trip to Tokyo, knocking $500 off the $524.83 fare. I used my Platinum Card from American Express to pay the $24.83 cash balance.
That credited back as part of my airline incidentals.
However, I recently bought two more Pay with Miles tickets and pay the respective cash balances with different Platinum cards. I used my Platinum Card from American Express for one and the other my Business Platinum Card from American Express.
Neither of them credited back. However, both charges were over $200 (the rumored maximum amount for a reimbursable charge) which might be the reason they weren’t credited at all.
UPDATE: I confirmed in February 2020 that cash balances on Pay With Miles tickets work for the airline incidental credit. I’d keep those balances to under $200, though.
Where to Go from Here?
If the Pay with Miles were consistent (at least for me) and we knew a hard limit as to how much can be charged, I’d probably stick with that as my main airline incidental of choice.
For now, though, my two-year-old daughter may become a SkyMiles Select member and donate her drink tickets to an upcoming Swag Saturday or two. 🙂 I’ll also be spending some time in C+ the next few weeks and might buy some Flight Fuel snacks.
What will you do with your Amex airline incidental credit?
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