How Many Airline Gift Cards Can I Use at Once?

Jan 1, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

Even if you don’t have enough points and miles to book your flights for free, you might be able to save a considerable amount of money by using airline gift cards to reduce the cost. TPG reader Zach wants to know just how many gift cards he can use at once …

How many AA gift cards can I combine when booking a single reservation?

TPG READER ZACH

There’s an important reason Zach might be asking this question. With the calendar turning over into 2019, many annual travel/airline credits on premium credit cards have reset for the new year. Some credits, like the $300 annual travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, are easy to use and might be better spent booking travel directly. Others, like the up to $200 annual airline incidental credit on The Platinum Card® from American Express are more restricted. Technically, this credit is meant to be used for incidental charges like bag fees, seat assignment and lounge access, but many TPG readers have had success getting reimbursed for airline gift cards. You can check out this guide for some recent data points on what works, but remember YMMV.

While the annual fees add up, it’s entirely reasonable for someone to have both the personal Amex Platinum card and the Business Platinum Card® from American Express for their overlapping perks. Throw an American Express® Gold Card into the mix, and you could easily end up with $500 worth of airline gift cards every year.

Of the US-based airlines that Amex allows you to select for this airline fee credit, only three are relevant here. United’s Travel Bank gift registry is currently down, and gift cards from smaller airlines like Hawaiian and Alaska don’t trigger the Amex credit. So if you want to use your Amex credit to purchase airline gift cards, here are the three options you have:

Airline Max # of Gift Cards per Transaction
American Airlines 8
Delta 3
Southwest 3

Bottom Line

The good news is that gift cards for these three airlines never expire, so even if you can’t use them all in a single transaction you can always save them for your next trip. You can also try some creative options like booking two one-way flights instead of a round-trip to create a second transaction. Ultimately if you travel enough to hold a premium card like the Amex Platinum, these gift cards should be as good as cash with your preferred airline — if it’s one that works with gift cards, that is. The $200 annual airline credit is one of the most important arguments to justify the Platinum’s hefty annual fee, so make sure you’re maxing out this perk every year, one way or another.

Thanks for the question, Zach, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 75,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,500

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Annual Fee
$550
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below 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.