Split Segments or Tickets to Use 16 AA Gift Cards? Diversify your GCs for 2019!

Edit: Turns out you can’t use gift cards on the return fight as each segment must originate in the USA to use for gift cards.

Tomorrow will be the last month if the first half of the year which should be a wake up call for y’all to get on spending some of your points and gift cards that you have been hoarding. For me I have 24 American Airline Gift Cards from my 12 AmEx Platinum Cards which need to be spent at a max of 8 cards at a time. Since $100 card value is currently the maximum value to auto trigger the $200 annual airline reimbursement, because of the 8 Gift Card cap, I have an $800 cap per booking.

I wanted to send my family to Toronto and noted that both United and American Airlines have separate pricing when it comes to the ORD to YYZ routing depending on booking round trip or two one way segments:

United has followed suit:

According to Google, if you book two separate one-way segments then you would save $35 on American and $38 on United versus booking round trip. Thanks to Google Flights for pointing this out! I went right to the American Website and sure enough for three people it is cheaper to book two one way trips:

And the return:

There was no problem using gift cards for the outbound flight form ORD to YYZ…

However for the return the gift card option was gone:

Silly me! I read the terms here and it is quite clear:

Gift Cards are redeemable toward the purchase of air travel wholly on flights operated by American Airlines, American Eagle® and oneworld® carriers for itineraries sold and originating in the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

Three tickets are $630 each way which you can use 7 gift cards for with $70 in change on the last one. I still plan on using the gift cards for the outbound flight, and then my US Bank Altitude for the return flight for $325 off. Overall I would just be paying $629.16-$325= $304.16 for round trip for 3 to Toronto.

I didn’t book yet because a part of me knows that if I pay for the round trip all with gift cards (just booking one ticket at a time) I would spend zero real dollars. Which in the end I am spending more money, but it would all be gift card money.

Thoughts? Comment below! Moving on…

You got 7 months of 2018 left to spend your credit. I think my folly this year was to not diversify my gift card portfolio. Now that the United Gift Registry looks like it will not open in “Early 2018” as it claims on its site. This may be a sign of the times and we need to anticipate possible loophole shut down procedures happening to other airlines.

For 2019 I am thinking of splitting it up as such:

  • My AmEx Platinum Business (Was Gold): American (Two $100 GC)
  • My AmEx Platinum Business (Derp Report): Delta (Four $50 GC)
  • WIfe’s AmEx Platinum Business: United (Club Membership or 12 Premium Bottles of Wine @ $16 each)

This would allow 35% points back over 3 airlines: Delta, American, and United.

  • My Personal Platinum: American 2*$100
  • Wife’s Personal Platinum: American
  • My MB Platinum: Delta 4*$50
  • Wife’s MB Platinum: Delta 4*$50
  • My Personal Platinum (Was PRG): Southwest One $200 GC
  • Wife’s Personal Platinum (Was PRG): Southwest One $200 GC
  • My Schwab Plat: Southwest ($200)
  • Wife Schwab Plat: Southwest ($200)
  • My Morgan Stanley Plat: American
  • Wife Morgan Stanley Plat: American
  • My Green Upgraded to Plat: American
  • My Ameriprise Plat: American
  • My Hilton Aspire: $250 on one Southwest

Or in a grid form it would look like this:

United Delta AA Southwest
My Biz $200
Wife Biz $200
My Biz 2 $200
Personal Pt $200
Wife Pt $200
MB Pt $200
W MB Pt $200
PRG Now Pt $200
W PRG Now Pt $200
Schwab $200
W Schwab $200
Morgan $200
W Morgan $200
Green now Pt $200
Ameriprise $200
Aspire $250
$3,250 $200 $1,000 $1,400 $650

This should begin in October with my Green to Plat conversion, and then slowly in 01 January 2019 with the rest. This is because January is the month you can choose a new airline every year. Then I will always check flyer talk to make sure these reimbursements still work. What you want to avoid is getting trapped on United after January had passed like a lot of those suckers out there in 2018. Many people (myself included) didn’t see the United Gift registry shutting down!

Because I cant add to the registry, my only way out of this mess is to buy a United Club Membership or drink 12 bottles of premium wine to spend down $200 trapped on their card! I know I have to chose one Business Card to be United to get the 35% points back, so this is my current dilemma.

As for the rest of you with many Platinum Cards, think about selecting other airlines just to make sure your not completely shut down in the future like those that were 100% United.


3 thoughts on “Split Segments or Tickets to Use 16 AA Gift Cards? Diversify your GCs for 2019!

  1. JohnnyB says:

    Hey Derp, great post!

    I’m in the process of ramping up the number of Plats I have so this was a good read. Personally, I’d use up as many of the gift cards as I could since they’d require no money out of pocket and are single use (single merchant, single method of travel, not flexible).

    With regards to splitting up your Business Platinum cards, how often do you find yourself purchasing flights directly with MR that you make use of the 35% rebate? Or do you simply prefer to have that flexibility so that you can use your MR on airlines not directly affiliated with Amex, such as UA, AA, and SWA?

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      I book all my united and American flights with MR when the bonus was 50%. I have yet to use it at 35%

  2. Andrew Sheep says:

    Dude, why are you not using them on nonrefundable SW flights, and then canxing within 24 hours? It’s cash-money baby! Make SW your preferred airline, book a sub-$100 SW nonrefundable flight, canx in between 12 – 24 hours after booking, then reap the cash credit. When you have $200, ask for them to send you the check, or use it towards charges. Way easier than figuring out all those GCs!

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