Waiting (and hoping) for Amex gift card 3X miles to post

I’ll be on vacation until January 6th.  Until then, I’ll publish a series of “mini posts” with an occasional regular post if something interesting comes up.  I may or may not answer blog comments or emails during this time.  Thanks for understanding! 

Over the weekend I suggested that it was possible to earn “5X everywhere” until the end of this year by buying and using Amex gift cards (for full details see “5X everywhere Amex is accepted, until the New Year“).  A part of the plan was to go through the Delta SkyMiles portal to get 3 miles per dollar when buying Amex gift cards.  A number of readers pointed out that, in addition to getting 3X Delta miles via the SkyMiles Shopping portal, you can also get 3X Alaska Airlines miles via the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping portal.  Alaska miles are generally considered to be quite a bit more valuable than Delta miles, so this is a fantastic alternative.



Unfortunately, a number of people have reported that they have bought gift cards through either the Delta or Alaska Airlines portals, but have not received miles from the portal.  The Alaska Airlines portal claims that “miles typically post within 3-5 days” (and the Delta portal has similar language).  Keep in mind, though, that the Alaska portal also says “however, depending on the merchant, can take up to 45 days for the miles to post to Mileage Plan™ Shopping.”

For those who have not yet received miles, what’s going on?  There are a number of reasons miles might not be posting:

Slow posting: In my experience, it is very common for larger purchases (e.g. $500 or more) to take longer to post to mileage portals.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see these purchases take 3 weeks or so to show up in the portals.

Technical glitches: Lately TopCashBack has been reliably and quickly posting cash back from Amex gift card purchases, but there was a period about a year ago when technical glitches prevented the transactions from posting properly.  It’s certainly possible that the mileage malls have encountered similar problems.

Coupons voiding transactions: For American Express gift cards, each portal has terms & conditions that state: “Not eligible on purchases made with coupon or discount codes that are not found on this site.”  In my experience, this clause has not been enforced via cash back portals and so it is unlikely to be enforced by mileage portals, but I can’t rule out the possibility.

User / computer issues: A number of things can go wrong on the purchaser’s side of things that can keep a purchase from tracking correctly.  See “How to ensure your portal points.”  I don’t think that this is the reason for the recent reports, though.  Some who have reported issues are very experienced portal shoppers.

My best guess

My guess is that it simply takes longer for miles to post for very big purchases.  We’ll know in a few weeks whether or not this is true.  The second most likely explanation, in my opinion, is that there are technical glitches.  If that’s the case, it should still be possible to earn miles, but it might require filing complaints with whichever portal you used.  And, don’t be surprised if it takes months to resolve.  To protect yourself when making purchases, I’d recommend the following:

  1. Take screen captures of the portal and the check-out screen.
  2. Do not use coupon codes.  I don’t really think that they cause problems, but if you use coupon codes, it may be harder to get customer support to help you when needed.
  3. Be very careful to click through the portal prior to each purchase.  If you check-out multiple times, make sure to go through the portal each time.

Reader experiences

Have you bought Amex gift cards through the Delta or Alaska Airlines portals?  If so, how large was your order?  Did you receive miles?  How long have you waited?

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  1. I emailed in to Cartera about this issue, wanting to clarify both the miles and if I could use discount codes and still receive miles. The rep said discount codes invalidate the miles, and furthermore said I would only earn miles on the fee ($3.95) and not the rest of the $5,000. I’m curious to see someone else posting earlier had miles post. Maybe I’ll do a small trial also, because certainly the Cartera reps have been known to be wrong.

    I had trouble posting here…sorry if my comment shows up more than once.

  2. I had more AS miles post yesterday for a 2K order. Pretty sure the holdup is larger orders. The Cartera rep on FT contacted me via PM and said my larger purchases may have gotten caught in their fraud filter and suggested submitting a ticket to get them released sooner. Unfortunately 3x is down to 1x but good luck to those who got in on this. I am more confident now that my miles will eventually post.

  3. Don’t waste your time emailing them. They reps will just recite the T&C. You are only hurting your case (and everyone else in the same boat) by focusing attention on the T&C which are clearly wrong.

    • Whoops, the above reply was for Nathan but didn’t show up below his message. What I meant to say was don’t email them specific questions about the (incorrect) T&C. The front line reps will just recite the T&C since that is the only information they have. Similarly don’t highlight the (incorrect) T&C if you submit a ticket. The miles are posting correctly based on purchase amount. I did submit a ticket and a reply confirming my orders tracked properly and that it is just taking longer (due to size). It doesn’t appear that submitting a ticket will necessarily speed things up:

      Hello, I made several large purchases of AMEX Gift cards that still have not posted. Your rep on FlyerTalk contacted me in regards to a post I made there, and said my large purchases may be caught up in your fraud filter. The rep said I should contact you to get them released. Only 1 of my orders has posted to date. The merchant is American Express Gift Cards and my orders are:

      [Order Date, Order #, Order Amount]
      [Order Date, Order #, Order Amount]
      [Order Date, Order #, Order Amount]

      Thank you for your inquiry. I am glad to inform you that after looking into your account I have noticed that these American Express Gift Cards orders are pending to post to your account. Please note that transactions can take up to 30 days from purchase date to post. Generally, orders post within 2 weeks, but when there are larger orders, like the ones you have, it can take a little longer.

      We will be watching these orders for their correct posting and will be in touch with you again when they post.

      Also keep in mind that some transactions may post into your Mileage Plan balance before others. This is because some merchants process their transactions differently and this is why we wait 30 days to allow time for this processing.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

      Have a great day!

  4. Just received 9k skymiles for $3k purchase on 12/27. Did not use the gift code to eliminate fee on this order. Points were not awarded on earlier purchase of $3k on 12/18 presumably because I used the gift code.

  5. Bought a $3K Amex GC via the Skymiles portal on 4/9/2014. Still hasn’t posted, but I am 7 days short of the up to 45 days they say I need to wait to post. I did use a fee free code. And I logged into the Amex gift card site.

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