Update: Credits are posting as expected. See this post for more details.
Earlier this week I posted one final reminder to use your 2015 American Express Airline credit whether it be for $200 (Platinum cards) or $100 (Premier Rewards Gold card). Now that 2016 is here you can now change your airline selection (if you so chose) but I am advocating to use the 2016 credits NOW if you plan to buy airline gift cards. I have always had success buying $50 Delta gift cards or $100 American Airlines gift cards but I would check the latest reports on the Flyertalk threads for United, Southwest and Alaska Airlines before selecting any of those airlines.
My argument is a simple one. It is widely known that airline gift cards are not eligible for the airline credit per the terms & conditions. However for years, the automated system American Express uses to determine what is eligible has nonetheless processed certain gift card purchases as being eligible – usually small amounts such as $50 (Delta) or $100 (Southwest/American) or if purchased a part of a registry (United). Right now, we know this is still working as the recent posts to Flyertalk demonstrate but there is no guarantee this will work for all of 2016. I have no inside knowledge to this but I do think there is a non-zero chance American Express changes this at some point in 2016.
To show that I follow my own advice, I purchased these two $100 American Airline gift cards yesterday on 1/1 and I am hoping the credits post shortly after (I will update this post once it does).
To be clear, I have absolutely zero inside knowledge that this ‘trick’ to buy airline gift cards and have them be eligible for the airline credit will end soon. In fact, it probably won’t end this year as that chance is quite small (but not zero either) in my opinion. After the technical issue earlier this year in which people feared American Express had caught on to this trick, I’d rather be months earlier getting my airline gift cards reimbursed than a day late.