Reader Question: Can you combine an airline travel credit with a companion certificate?
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Frequent travelers are used to paying for their plane tickets in a number of different ways, including credit cards, miles and even gift cards. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the unprecedented surge in flight cancellations it's caused is forcing many travelers to now learn the ins and outs of another payment method: airline-issued travel credits. TPG reader Bettina wants to know if she can use a Delta travel credit in combination with a Delta companion fare from her Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card.
[pullquote source="TPG READER BETTINA"]I ended up with a $1200 credit on Delta for my canceled trip to Florida – and I have a companion fare credit also from my Delta Platinum SkyMiles Amex. Is it possible to combine the companion airfare with the airline credit for booking future travel? [/pullquote]
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For those who may not be familiar, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is the mid-tier option of Delta's personal cobranded credit cards. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles comes with an annual companion certificate valid for a round-trip, main cabin domestic ticket booked into fare classes L, U, T, X or V. You just need to pay the taxes and fees on the companion ticket, which is very low for domestic travel.
Delta's travel credits are generally very lenient, as you can use them to cover the cost of airfare or government-imposed taxes, including the $5.60 aviation security fee that gets tacked on to the cost of all flights originating in the U.S. (including award tickets). However, Delta's companion fares, like many airline-specific perks on cobranded credit cards, come with an important restriction that prevents you from combining them with an airline credit.
According to the terms and conditions of the companion fare benefit listed on the Amex website, you must pay for your ticket with your SkyMiles credit card in order to apply the companion fare:
"Primary ticket and Companion ticket must be purchased with your Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card"
This is not unlike other airlines like United that generally require you to purchase your ticket with your cobranded card in order to receive free checked bags on eligible itineraries. While this policy existed long before airline credits were a common part of most people's travel experience, it's sure to be frustrating now to people who have to decide which of their expiring benefits (companion fare or travel credit) to redeem first.
The annual companion certificate is one of the more valuable perks on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, but you can only use it when you pay for the primary ticket and companion ticket with your Delta Platinum card.