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My Delta Purchases That Did and Didn’t Credit as Amex Airline Incidentals

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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

Delta SkyMiles Select counts toward American Express card airline incidental credit.

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.

Delta SkyMiles Select counts toward American Express card airline incidental credit.

For what it’s worth, buying SkyMiles Select also earned me $59 MQD.  

 

NO: Delta Gift Cards in Sky Clubs

Gift cards in Delta Sky Clubs do not earn Amex Airline Incidental credit.

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

Delta Air Lines Mileage Booster credits toward American Express airline incidental allowance.
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.

It worked.

Delta Air Lines Mileage Booster credits toward American Express airline incidental allowance.

But paying roughly two cents per SkyMile made me slightly ill.

 

NO: First Class Monetization / Paid Upgrades

Paid upgrades/first class monetization do not count toward American Express airline incidental credit.
(Delta News Hub photo, Rene’s Points composite)

We’ve written many times about first class monetizaton (or “FCM”). Based on this experiment, I won’t be buying up again anytime soon.

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

First class upgrades do not count toward American Express airline incidental credit.

— 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:

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.

Fees on companion certificates do count toward the American Express airline incidental credit.

NO: Premium Drinks from THE BAR at Delta Sky Clubs

Premium cocktails from THE BAR at Delta Sky Clubs do not count toward American Express airline incidental credit.

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.

Premium cocktails from THE BAR at Delta Sky Clubs do not count toward American Express airline incidental credit.

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

Maybe/Your Mileage May Vary results for Amex Airline Incidental Credit

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.

Delta Air Lines Pay with Miles cash balance crediting toward American Express airline incidental credit.

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.

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?

— Chris

 

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

30 Comments

  1. Douglas Childs

    Do in-flight snack purchases count? (Didn’t see that in the article)

  2. Tim Kamps

    Who earns the MQD “For what it’s worth, buying SkyMiles Select also earned me $59 MQD.”? You or your daughter?

  3. @Douglas Childs: Yes, they do. I mentioned that, because checked bags and in flight food and beverages are explicitly stated as qualifying that I didn’t include them.

  4. @CW: Not sure if this is to what you’re alluding but $59 divided by 3000 equals .01966667, or roughly two cents per SkyMile. But it certainly may feel like two dollars per mile 🙂

  5. What about paying fora Delta ticket primarily with Delta gift cards but using Amex to pay the excess (as long as its under $100)?

  6. @Chris – Paying for airline taxes and fees on awards works as well. How I used most of mine this year on my personal card (used the buy gift cards on biz card when that still worked).

  7. Chuck Lowenstein

    I use the $200 to pay for an extra bag on an international flight.

  8. VIcky Lee

    Question: you’ve mentioned using the Amex Platinum card because it awards 5x, but if for example, you’ve achieved Platinum status, then don’t you get 9x using one of the Delta Platinum Amex cards?

  9. @Vicky Lee: Good question. The earnings are two separate things altogether and are independent of each other. The personal Amex Platinum card earns 5X Membership Rewards points on all purchases made directly with airlines.

  10. @Bill: IIRC from past trips I booked using that method, it didn’t work. But maybe this is a good excuse to try it 🙂

  11. Not that I ever pay change fees but will the Am Ex Platinum card cover the $200 change fee?

  12. For a trip at the beginning of October, the $100 AmEx Gold Card airline credit was applied to change fees for a trip my wife and I took to Seattle
    There’s gotta more more people than me and @Wayne needing to change ticketing and not having Platinum/Diamond Medallion status, right? (That’s what amazes me with all the naysayers on the airline fee recoupment…I’m sure I’ll have change and upgrade fees in 2020, happily using the AmEx credit as quickly as possible.) Why not?

  13. Has any success been reported with calling into Amex to “report” that a charge that you “expected” to be an airline incidental did not credit back?

    I had a flight in Sept that on the day of, I changed (I pushed it to the next morning). The only charges I owed for this change was a $93.00 fare difference that I put on my Platinum Card. This charge showed up as “Delta Airlines Atlanta” and did not trigger the incidental credit. In a few days I’m going to try calling to see if they will do it manually if I lay out my dialog correctly, but wanted to see if anyone has already tried this.

  14. Great read and thanks for the tip on adding SkyMiles to a trip!!! Do you know if the credit will work if I purchase skymiles on the “buy skymiles” page?

  15. how did you find a ticket to Tokyo for $524?

  16. @Jenmared: I believe I originally read about it on Points with a Crew sometime in February. Saw a great deal and jumped on it.

    We often find pretty good prices — sometimes many on the same day — and post them to our mileage run page. Not all trips require tight turns, and you have the option to stay for a few (or more) days.

  17. Cynthia Ballard

    I was able to call and get an “override” on applying the gold credit of $100 to my upgrade purchase of comfort seats on an upcoming flight. So you might want to try this…..

  18. So, I used one of these cards to make a donation last month during Breast Ca Awareness Month–and got a credit.
    So for me–I think from now on–if I cannot use any other way-I’ll donate $$, take the tax credit for charity–and get the credit–we will see.
    I was able to get the credit when I bought gift cards in Jan, but like most of you–didn’t work when I tried on another card later in August.

  19. Gregg G

    I thought I had used mine when my daughter went to Israel and We had to pay DL for her bags. Looking Back I realized that she had an additional card on my Delta Reserve business amex for that trip and not my non DL Plat Amex. So now I looked and I still have 200 available. Heading to GSP tomorrow and then Shanghai next Thursday, What do you suggest as easiest way to spend the $200. My Shanghai trip is a MR FLL-LGA-DTW-PVG and back.

    @Jemared Delta offered this for $600 RT in Coach and $1200 in C+ on the domestic and Premium Economy for the international. As a perk on non DL Plat Amex business card, you can get discounts on international flights. They had the same C+ and Premium Economy for about $1000. Then I used Amex points to pay for the tickets and got 35% back, as DL is my preferred airline. so for about 65,000 amex points, I get back a hair under 25k MQMs and about $900 MQDs. flying Coach would have gotten me about 21k mqms.

  20. Pingback: Amex Up To Its Old Tricks Again, Some Nice Disney Discounts, Should American Airlines Be Concerned?, & More! - Your Mileage May Vary

  21. Does anyone know if Go-Go inflight wifi is covered?

  22. Jinxed_K

    I’ve read the various blogs before getting my first Amex card recently, but it definitely is hard to use these credits even when you know what you’re getting into beforehand. The airline choice is probably the most restrictive part of this deal since I’m not overly brand loyal and when I do take my usual carrier, Jetblue, they have a fare bucket that includes a checked bag which is a few dollars cheaper than adding a checked bag via fee to a basic ticket.
    Ended up using this year’s to select MCE seats after booking in standard economy on American which was credited. (Ticket was paid for by somebody else)
    Now I have to decide if I want to keep the credits going to American or change to Jetblue in January…

    The breaking up of credits monthly like the food credits on the Gold and Uber credits on the Platinum also made it less attractive.

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