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Delta, Southwest Gift Cards No Longer Trigger Amex Airline Fee Credit

July 16, 2019
4 min read
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Delta, Southwest Gift Cards No Longer Trigger Amex Airline Fee Credit
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Update 7/16: Based on TPG tests and other reports, we can now confirm that Delta and Southwest gift cards no longer trigger the Amex the airline fee credits. We will continue to monitor this and share updates as we get them, but we do not recommend buying any airline gift cards with an Amex for the purpose of triggering the credit.


Many of American Express' higher end cards come with an annual airline incidental fee credit. Although these fee credits were designed to cover airline fees such as checked bags, seat assignments, change fees and onboard food or drink purchases, historically, they've also covered many airline gift card purchases. Enrollment required for select benefits.

However, in recent months, fewer gift card purchases have triggered the airline fee statement credits. And now, it seems that two more airlines bit the dust.

Reports on Flyertalk, tests from TPG staffers and data points from the TPG Lounge are suggesting that as of June 22 or June 23, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines gift card purchases will no longer trigger the airline fee credit. If you've been keeping track, you'll know that these were the final two airlines that allowed you to use the credit to buy gift cards.

At this point, there aren't enough data points to make any definitive conclusions, but early indications are not looking positive. And since airline gift cards are not expressly within the parameters of the Amex airline fee credit, you can't complain to Amex if they don’t work in your case either.

We will be conducting further in-house tests on Delta and Southwest gift card purchases, but for now, your best bet is to use the airline fee credits for what they were intended for: incidentals. For instance, aside from checked bag and seat assignment fees, family travelers might want to use the credit to purchase Big Front Seats on Spirit. Or, based on the sky-high pet fees on most — but not all— airlines, you may use up your airline fee credit on just one or two flights with your pet.

Officially, once you’ve made your initial choice, you can only change your choice once each year in January, but fortunately, Amex tends to be quite lenient with this and will often let you change your choice later over the phone or via chat.

If you're feeling daring and do still want to try purchasing a Delta gift card with the hopes of getting reimbursed, there are some things you'll want to keep in mind. Firstly, in the past, Delta gift cards purchases only counted in smaller increments of around $50. Additionally, they must have been purchased from Delta's desktop site and not the mobile site. For Southwest, gift cards typically needed to be purchased in denominations of $100 or less to trigger the credit.

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As a quick refresher, here are the American Express cards that award annual airline fee statement credits up to a certain amount (terms apply; enrollment required):

  • Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (up to $250)
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (up to $200)
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express (up to $200)

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If losing the ability to purchase gift cards with your airline fee credit is a deal breaker for you, there are other premium cards that issue more flexible annual travel credits. These include the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($300 annual travel credit), US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite ($325 annual travel credit) or the Citi Prestige® Card ($250 annual travel credit).

We’ll stay on this story and bring you more information as we get it. In the meantime, if you recently purchased Delta, Southwest or even American Airlines gift cards using the airline fee credit, let us know if you got reimbursed in the comments below!

For the latest travel news, deals and points and miles tips please subscribe to The Points Guy daily email newsletter.

Featured image by Delta and Southwest jets dominate the scene at the world's busiest airport in Atlanta (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more