Issues With American Express Airline Incidental Credits for Delta? (And Maybe Southwest)

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American Express Airline Incidental Credits Plane

Issues With American Express Airline Incidental Credits for Delta

Are there Amex gift card issues? It seems like something has changed with the American Express airline reimbursement fee, specifically with how it’s triggered from Delta gift card purchases in Amex’s internal coding.

We mentioned back in February that some data points showed issues with receiving the American Express airline fee credit when purchasing gift cards. Then, the issues seemed to have improved.

Now, it looks like there are new Amex gift card issues, this time with Delta. I have run into my own issues, but in the interest of not inducing panic, I spent time conducting some experiments. It look like I’m not alone in this issue, given the number of recent comments on this thread on FlyerTalk.

If you have data points to share, we’d love to hear them.

American Express Airline Incidental Credits Computer

Background on Amex and gift cards

American Express allows some cards (such as the Platinum, Business Platinum, and personal Gold card) to choose a preferred airline and receive credits for certain purchases. Among those purchases are things like bag fees and seat upgrades, but we’ve also known that certain airlines’ gift card purchases will trigger this credit from Amex and others won’t. Selecting an airline which sells gift cards that trigger this reimbursement is a way to get a “free” gift card, essentially.

Earlier this month, I opened the American Express Gold card and selected Delta as my preferred airline, due to past experience with using Delta as my airline with the Business Platinum card. Here’s how that Delta gift card purchase coded with my Business Platinum card in January:

American Express Airline Incidental Credits delta

A few days later, here’s how the credit showed up in my account:

American Express Airline Incidental Credits Delta

Changes and new gift card issues

Imagine my surprise when I made a purchase in the same way but saw it code much differently this month.

American Express Airline Incidental Credits Delta

This purchase coded entirely differently, including GC in the title, which obviously stands for “gift card”. This purchase hasn’t triggered the reimbursement yet, and I have a feeling it’s not going to.

In the interest of science and collecting data, I turned on a VPN and set my location to Atlanta (home of Delta) and used a different browser, including “private browsing”. I bought another gift card, and it shows up this way on my account.

American Express Airline Incidental Credits Issues

This one is showing closer to the old ones from my Business Platinum reimbursement back in January, so I was feeling hopeful. A week later, and the reimbursement still hasn’t shown up in my account, so I reached out to Amex via chat.

I asked some general questions to confirm that they see Delta as my chosen airline, when can I expect reimbursement, and whether a reimbursement is processing.

Seeking clarity from Amex on the issues

I feel like I didn’t get any direct confirmation, but here’s what I got from the Amex chat rep earlier today:

American Express Airline Incidental CreditsAmerican Express Airline Incidental Credits Chat

There’s nothing new in that list about what fees are/are not covered, and the chat rep probably doesn’t have the authority to issue credits. He also mentioned that it’s automatic via their system, so it has to be recognized by some kind of coding.

Moving forward

At this point, I’m collecting data. Has anyone else purchased gift cards to trigger the Amex airline reimbursement fee within the past month? If so, here’s some data that would be interesting:

  • Have you bought gift cards and received the Amex airline reimbursement within the past month?
  • What airline did you choose?
  • What value of gift cards did you purchase (ex: $50, $100)?
  • How did you purchase them (browser, app, phone)?
  • Did you use any special settings (private browsing, VPN, etc.)?
  • How long did it take to receive the credit?
  • How did the gift cards code / item display title on your billing statement?


The chat rep said it can take up to 14 business days to receive my credit, so there’s still “waiting” required, but I’m wondering what has changed, given that it was so fast earlier this year with my Business Platinum card.

If you have any recent data points to share, we’d love to hear them. There’s also chatter about similar issues with Southwest, but I can’t confirm or deny those, since I didn’t choose Southwest as my preferred airline on any of my cards. If anything is changing with Amex or with Delta & Southwest on this, it will be good information to share, so others can know.


  1. I bought two $50 delta gc on Hilton Aspire that posted on 6/26 as Delta Air Lines and as a Passenger Ticket. Both have NOT been reimbursed as of 7/2. A little frustrated bc I bought 3 $50 gc earlier this year in January and all were reimbursed within 3 days. Did the same thing last year with my $250 credit and the $100 credit (that’s 7 gift cards) on Amex gold and never had any issues. If they don’t get reimbursed I’ll probably end up cancelling. It’s just not worth the hassle to get these credits for me in that case

  2. I have an old presidential united card that gets me free bags. Last year I used Amex for upgrade and they argues that it was not included. I was also told that it did not cover change fees on UA. My last hope was to change preferred airline to delta and purchase EGC to get some value out of the card. I am not able to use enough of the other benefits. I guess in sept it is goodbye to platinum.

  3. I bought one $50 egc’s from Delta on 6/20, received the credit on 6/22. Bought on desktop, no VPN. Purchase 3 more egc’s same way from same PC that all posted on 6/26, no credit for any of these 3 yet.

    • He didn’t say anything about the gift cards etc. was just looking for more info like if they could tell it was gift cards etc. in a roundabout way. Nothing wrong with that.

  4. David – that’s a quite different topic than what we’re talking about here. Amex could definitely come looking for these points and take them back. I’d wait a while before spending them, if this were me.

  5. ok so here is my story…..a bit new to all this but here is what happened… i got the amex delta platinum in april. Did a 3k visa gc spend to earn the bonus of 70k miles. As the deadline of three months loomed, no bonus awarded. I called amex and was told the spend earned miles but was not qualified for the bonus. I had about two weeks or so to spend another 3k in regular spending. As the deadline got closer, i was short about 1300 bucks. I called back to find out if the original spend would qualify. I was told that it would qualify and the agent also told me i had a ten day grace period to put more spend on after the deadline closed. I told her I did not believe there was a grace period but she insisted there was. I decided to give up on the additional spend as i was up against the transaction date vs posting date and hoped my original spend would qualify me or i could take advantage of the ten day grace period to buy more stuff. The agent said she would follow up with me on Monday since it was Friday and she was off the rest of the weekend. I told her she could follow up but did not believe she would. Anyway, I decide to call back again about two hours later and talk with another agent to verify the ten day grace period…….well he says there is NO grace period. I tell him i about the spend in april of $3k and he reaches out to a rewards specialist. After a half hour of waiting, he comes back and tells me I will receive my 70k in miles in 24 hours………yeah right………i am thinking and the other agent is going to call me on Monday……Well……guess what? I got my miles and the agent did follow up on Monday……….but here is the kicker….. two weeks later I check my miles balance and i got another 70k miles in my account. Clearly a mistake……but they are still there. Will they catch it? Should I spend em as soon as possible?

  6. This was on a recently opened Gold card. The merchant just says “Delta Airlines Atlanta.” Didn’t realize I was so lucky!

  7. James – wow! Thats an outlier. Good for you! Which card did you use? What was the description/title in the purchase when it showed up on your card?

  8. I used my Hilton Aspire to purchase Delta $50 e-gift cards on June 12th and June 17th. The credit posted on June 14th and June 18th. I then purchased another Delta $50 e-gift card on June 21st. I’m still waiting for that credit. The charges appear to have posted all the same way as (Travel – Airline) so I’m not sure what to make of it. Hope that helps your data points.

  9. @Ryan – I checked my two previous $50 e-gift card purchases from Feb & Mar. Both were coded exactly the same way, as a Passenger Ticket, and both were reimbursed.

  10. Gary – I think that’s how they’re catching it. Either those digits or labeling it as a ticket has stopped the reimbursement, since tickets/taxes on award tickets/similar don’t get reimbursed. If they’re just coding it as part of paying for a ticket OR putting that gift card number in there, it’s telling Amex not to pay out. This is my guess until we get more info.

  11. tjp74 – Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I can envision a conversation like “Hey, we asked you to change how the gift cards show up, but that looks bad. Just change it to say ‘Delta’ in the title, but put a code in the description that helps us know now to provide the reimbursement. Thanks!” My wife and I have only $600, which includes my wife just opening the Amex Gold last week. Wondering if she should roll the dice and try AA as hers.

  12. @Ryan S – There is no reference to GC on my Statement. But is dose say it a Passenger Ticket and includes a ticket number which corresponds to the E-Gift card number but with one extra digit added on the e-gift card.

  13. yes I noticed that too. it’s weird why first one was processed by Cashstar while second one says Delta like old way. I have $900 worth of credits to use come Jan 1st. I guess I still have the option to switch the airline after Jan 1st to what ever is known to work at the time but still… this stinks.

  14. Purchased a $50 Delta e-gift-card on Jun 23 on a Win10 Desktop as I usually do. It’s now Jun 29, no reimbursement so far. In the past its never taken longer that 2 days to get the reimbursement.

  15. tjp74 – but the 2nd one didn’t code that way, which is why I’d held out some hope for a bit. The description changed back to the old way, but I think they changed something in the background coding that tips off Amex. That’s my theory at this point.

  16. well… it says it all. “CSTAR”… => Cashstar => a blackhawk company. it’s a third party giftcard solution provider for corporations. Which means Delta is no longer the seller of the giftcard. It’s used to be that only the physical giftcard was processed by third company but e-giftcard was safe… but I guess that has ended. Crap…

  17. Debit – I do wonder how many people will reevaluate cards if this continues. Many people view their cards as having $100 or $200 less in annual fee, based on this, since people can get some of those things for free (ex: I don’t pay checked bags by way of having a Delta credit card) and really only utilized the fee for the gift cards. I don’t plan to splurge for $200 of onboard snacks just ‘because the fee is there’. This might cause people to reevaluate the real burden of the annual fee when renewal comes around, and that’s something that will be hard to track but would be interesting to see.

  18. Wow. Suddenly a lot of amex cards will become completely useless. Maybe that’s what amex wants. Good riddance. Will simplify my life a lot.


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