Deadline to Change Amex Platinum Airline for 2018…and why we switched

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Today is January 31st, which is technically the last day you have to change your selected Amex Platinum airline for the year. The airline you select for the year is not only the one where you can use your annual $200 in incidental airline charges, but also the one where you get the 35% – 50% “Pay with Points” rebate on economy flights if you have The Business Platinum® Card. You can get that rebate on first or business class fares on any airline available through Amex Travel, but economy flights are only eligible for the rebate with your selected airline. The rebate is up to 500,000 points per calendar year, and it only matters if you use your points in that manner.


Changing our Amex Platinum airline

For as long as we have had a Platinum Card® from American Express our selected annual airline has been United. United is the airline we use the most frequently and there has always been a way to use the Amex Platinum incidental credit to purchase gift cards or travel bank credits that we can then use to book United flights. However, for the first time in our history, we did not select United as our Amex Platinum airline this year. We don’t currently have an Amex Platinum Business Card and instead have a personal Platinum Amex, so the 35% – 50% Pay with Points rebate didn’t come into play in our decision making.

We decided to step away from United for these purposes mainly because they don’t currently offer any way to purchase gift cards and the gift registry workaround that has been useful for the last few years is also down. The gift registry site says that they “expect the site to be up and running again in early 2018”, but when it wasn’t ready by the end of January, I wasn’t willing to wait anymore. I wasn’t willing to wait and see if/when the site will truly be back up largely because we don’t know for sure how things will code with Amex when it does come back online. It’s possible we would simply be able to use the $200 incidental fee credit over the course of the calendar year for actual incidental fees with United, but since Josh has United Gold status we are exempt from lots of incidental fees so I don’t want to risk any of the credit going to waste.


Selecting Delta as our airline

Given all that, this year we opted to select Delta as our Amex Platinum airline for the year. I’ve been enjoying our Delta flights and anticipate having more of them this year. In fact, we have another Delta flight that we need to book in the near future. Online data points for $50 Delta e-gift cards purchased on a desktop counting towards the Amex Platinum $200 incidental fee credit have been very positive.

After selecting Delta as our Amex Platinum airline for 2018, we made three $50 Delta e-gift card purchases and as you can see below all of them triggered offsetting $50 airline incidental fee statement credits.


You can use up to three Delta gift cards when purchasing airfare, so having multiple Delta e-gift cards in your inbox shouldn’t be too big of a problem since you can use three of them up at once.

Do be aware that you can’t use the Delta e-gift cards for 72 hours after they are purchased, so don’t wait to buy them until you need to purchase immediate Delta airfare.

If you are unsure which airline is the best choice for your family in 2018, check out this post I wrote a few weeks ago with more data points and ideas for each eligible airline.

Which airline did you select for your 2018 Amex Platinum annual $200 fee credit?

Head here to learn more about available credit cards and their bonuses.

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  1. Been Southwest for several years now; never had any issues with gift card reimbursement and we can always take advantage of Southwest flights! Even if it means schlepping to Hobby 🙂

    • Ha ha – I hear ya. We are doing that schlep this summer with the girls to catch an affordable nonstop to Costa Rica! It’s on a Saturday though so hopefully traffic isn’t a problem!

  2. So glad I saw this in time! As Ethan said above, we usually have ours set to Southwest, but as we’re doing some traveling overseas this year I wanted to change it to either American or United. I hadn’t realized the deadline was today…and your uncertainty about what was going on with United made the American choice a no-brainer for us! (But I suspect next year we’ll be switching back to Southwest…)

  3. can anyone tell me how to use the AA gift card. I go to try to book a ticket and there is no gift card option. Am I missing something? Please help.

  4. Haha I just did the opposite, I qualified for Delta silver last year but also fly United a lot so switched from DL to UA since I get most fees waived with Delta now.

  5. Hey Summer. I have the business card to use 35% back in pointz. Couldn’t I just choose United now and then December of this year change to American and get the gift cards then?

    • I have heard reports of people being able to change later on in the year if they ask, especially if they haven’t used the credit, but I can’t make any guarantees about that.

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