Confirmed: American Express Airline Credits Are Working for American Airlines & Delta Gift Cards

One of my first posts of 2016 recommended that anyone who generally buys airline gift cards to take advantage of the annual airline credit on the American Express Platinum ($200) or Premier Rewards Gold ($100) card should do so now, rather than taking a chance that American Express kills this option at some point in 2016. While reports on Flyertalk have generally been positive about this ‘trick’ still working, I can confirm firsthand that $100 American Airlines e-gift cards and $50 Delta e-gift cards are working. Not only are they working but American Express is crediting them in record time – only one or two days!

Successful AA Gift Card Reimbursement

Successful AA Gift Card Reimbursement

Delta GC Reimbursement

Successful Delta Gift Card Reimbursement

As you can see in the above, I purchased 2x $100 American Airlines e-gift cards on 1/1 with my Business Platinum card while I used my wife’s Premier Rewards Gold card on 1/3 to purchase 2x $50 Delta e-gift cards. Both were credited automatically quite quickly compared to other airline credits I’ve seen posted in past years. If you plan to buy American or Delta gift cards, I highly recommend sticking with $100 e-gift cards for American and definitely only $50 e-gift cards for Delta. 

If you want to try it for a different airline, please see the applicable Flyertalk threads below for other airlines.

Update: One note that Ann brought up in the comments – AA will not sell gift cards to NJ residents so you need to chose a different airline if you plan to buy gift cards. So make sure you select your airline with American Express first before buying any gift cards. 

United Gift Card Reimbursements

Southwest Gift Card Reimbursements 

Alaska Airlines Gift Card Reimbursements

Hawaiian Airlines Gift Card Reimbursements

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Do This Now: Deals & Offers That Expire on 12/31

Last year, I published a year end checklist of sorts with various deals, offers & promotions that I thought were worth considering maximizing before they expired. A lot of you found it helpful so I did the same for this year with a quick list of offers or promotions that expire on 12/31/15 that you should seriously consider taking advantage of.

The clock is ticking...

The clock is ticking…

1. Use the Airline Credit on the American Express Platinum ($200) or Premier Rewards Gold ($100) – Even though the official language regarding this credit is meant to cover baggage fees, lounge passes etc., I always buy gift cards to make sure I fulfill this credit, since I wouldn’t complete it on fees alone. Buying $50 Delta e-gift cards or $100 American Airlines gift cards does the trick. Make sure you have chosen the airline first!

2. Maximize Chase Freedom Q4 Bonus & Earn 10x at Amazon – The Chase Freedom Q4 5 10% Bonus category is Amazon, Zappos, Audible, & Diapers.com and you will earn 10% cash back up to $1,500 in spend in these categories. I’m a big Amazon shopper so I will always stock up on Amazon gift cards to make sure I hit the $1,500 in spend. You could take a similar approach for the other stores by buying gift cards for future purchases. I’ll gladly take earning 10x on all my Amazon purchases for next year!

If you plan to buy Amazon Gift Cards or reload your Amazon Gift Card Balance to maximize this promotion, please consider using my Amazon link here. I do earn a small referral for any purchase – thank you for your support!

3. Use Those Great Amex Offers – In the past quarter, American Express has released some of the better Amex Offers which can offer some substantial savings especially if you have multiple Amex cards in your household like I do. Here is a quick summary of the better offers expiring on 12/31 – if you don’t have anything to buy, consider a gift card.

  • Amazon – Spend $60, Get a $15 Statement Credit
  • Best Buy – Spend $199, Get a $20 Statement Credit
  • Walmart – Spend $35, Get a $15 Statement Credit
  • Dunkin Donuts – Spend $10, Get a $5 Statement Credit
  • AirBnb – Spend $100, Get a $50 Statement Credit
  • Newegg – Spend $200, Get a $25 Statement Credit

4. Maximize Discover + Apple Pay Promotion for 10% Cashback on In-Store Purchases – This is a huge deal that is valid on the first $10,000 of spending so you could earn a cool $1,000 on top of all normal cashback from Discover (such as their Double Cashback promotion so this is really worth $2,000). If you have no clue what I am talking about, read this post from Frequent Miler.

5. Apply for a CitiGold Checking Account for 50k AA Miles or 50k Thank You Points – You must have an American Airlines credit card (Platinum Select) for the AA offer using code 42ERCWNQU6 or a Thank You Points earning card (Prestige, Premier, Preferred) for the Thank You offer using code 42ERCZ42PY. I’ve written extensively about taking advantage of this offer and how to do it here, here and here (though this was a savings account which is also worth reading about).

6. Use the $300 Ritz Carlton Credit Card Travel Credit – This is similar to the American Express airline credit with the main differences being it can used across many airlines and that the credit is not automatic. You must call in and it has effectively gotten much tougher to get credit for items that normally don’t qualify for a credit, such as airline gift cards. You can try to go down that path if you are willing to fib about the actual charge so I recommend buying lounges passes or upgrading to economy comfort/plus seats for travel already booked for next year. You can see what others have had success with here.

7. Use the Citi Prestige $250 Travel Credit – Unless you have a December 31 close date on your statement, it is too late to do this but for those that do, make sure you use the $250 airline credit from the Prestige card. Unlike the Ritz or Amex cards mentioned above, this credit is not calendar year based but rather expires for the year on your December statement close date. So for example, if you statement closed on 12/20, it is now too late to use your 2015 credit but you can start using your 2016 credit today since that statement will close in 2016. This credit is also good for the purchase of anything from the airline – including actual tickets!

8. $15 Statement Credit for Using a Chase Freedom with Visa Checkout – This is pretty simple to execute, go to a store that accepts Visa Checkout (Staples, Newegg, Gap and more) and use your Chase Freedom for a purchase of $15 or more to see a $15 statement credit in a few weeks.

These are the ‘bigger’ offers I could think of – what did I miss?

Travel Hacking Year End Checklist: Here is What You Need to Do Before January 1st

Year end is here and as such, there are several calendar year opportunities that you want to make sure you’ve taken advantage of before Thursday. Additionally, there are some limited time opportunities that may not be around much longer, so I’ve included those items below as well.

The clock is ticking...

The clock is ticking…

Here is a list of items you want to make sure you’ve taken care of before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.

1. Spend the $200 American Express Platinum Airline Credit – Each calendar year, Amex Platinum cardholders (both personal and business) get a $200 airline credit to spend toward fees on a specified airline. You must first select the airline here and if you made a selection last year, it is automatically carried forward for 2014 (you can change this selection once a year in January). Even though the official language regarding this credit is meant to cover baggage fees, lounge passes etc., I always buy gift cards to make sure I fulfill this $200 credit, since I wouldn’t complete it on fees alone. Buying $50 Delta e-gift cards or $100 American Airlines gift cards does the trick. 

2. Spend the $300 Ritz Carlton Credit Card Travel Credit – Similar to the Amex Platinum above, the Ritz Carlton credit card offers $300 annually in travel credit for baggage fees, lounge passes, seat upgrades and other fees, but with two key differences: 1) The $300 credit can cover multiple charges from different airlines and 2) You have to call in to request reimbursement. This second part makes it a little trickier to use this credit for gift cards since they aren’t technically eligible for reimbursement and by having a person manually review every charge (as compared to the Amex Platinum where the credit is automatically generated) it is harder to get reimbursed for gift cards. There are two good threads that have some reports on people getting reimbursed for gift cards here and here. It seems buying gift cards in denominations of stated fees, such as pet fees and checked baggage fees have been working if you are willing to fudge the truth on what the charge is actually for if the agent asks. This is a YMMV scenario.

3. Book Hyatt My Elite Rate & Book via Hyatt Mobile App- I’ve covered this before but Hyatt is ending the My Elite Rate in 2015. If you have any known paid stays upcoming in 2015, you might want to lock in the My Elite Rate now and if you see it go cheaper or your plans change, you could always cancel as most My Elite Rates are cancelable up until a few days before the stay. In addition, the ability to earn 1,000 bonus points if you book a stay via the Hyatt mobile app is ending on 12/31.

4. Maximize Chase Freedom 4th Quarter 5% Bonus – The Chase Freedom Q4 5% Bonus is Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select Department stores. In these categories you will earn 5% cash back up to $1,500 in spend in these categories.  I’m a big Amazon shopper so I will always stock up on Amazon gift cards when the 5% bonus is active on the Freedom card to make sure I hit the $1,500 in spend. You could take a similar approach for department stores or Zappos by buying gift cards for future purchases.

5. Apply for the US Airways MasterCard  – I’m technically cheating on this one since I believe this offer will be around after 12/31 but now is a great time to apply for the US Airways MasterCard. This card is going away at some point in early 2015 (maybe January 18th?) and this is the final call to earn a signup bonus on this card. The current offers are 50,000 miles after first purchase that is valid for everyone and an offer targeted for Preferred Members that offers the same 50,000 miles + 10,000 miles upon renewal. I’ve heard several reports that if you apply for the offer meant for Preferred members but you aren’t a Preferred member and you do not get automatically approved, Barclays will no longer approve you for this offer if you call the reconsideration line. In that case, I recommend going for the standard 50,000 offer and remember there is a refer a friend offer ongoing.

6. Earn 500 Free Points from Virgin America – This is a pretty easy 500 points for a minute of work but this offer expires on 12/31. Here is the link to the offer as well as my write-up on the offer.

7. Check Your American Express Offers – Many good deals expire on 12/31/14 including $10 off Uber, $15 off Toys R Us, and others. If you didn’t register for some of these offers earlier, they may not appear in your account now and others were more targeted. However, for the ones you do have, check to see if any expiring 12/31 offers are worth taking advantage of.

8. Try to Earn 1,000 Free Hilton HHonors Points – Hilton HHonors is running a targeted promotion that gives users 1,000 free HHonors points for updating your email address. I wasn’t targeted as I got a message indicating they had my email address on file. This offer expires on 12/31 so I think its worth a minute of your time to see if your account is eligible for a free 1,000 points.

9. Take 10% off Hyatt Stays with Hyatt Gift Cards – I’ve discussed this deal previously and while the expiration date for this promotion isn’t known, it is widely assumed to be 12/31/14.

I’m sure I missed something here. What else are you doing before year end? Thanks to PointChaser for inspiration of this post.