American Airlines gift cards 10% off at Costco

Costco is currently selling $300 American Airlines gift cards for $269.99 at many of their stores. Based on what I’ve heard the gift cards don’t expire and a maximum of eight can be used per ticket (meaning $2,400 of value). As long as the ticket is booked through American you should still be able to apply further discounts to it, be it a voucher or an electronic percent off certificate.

Not all Costco stores carry them, so be sure to call your local Costco first, or check this FlyerTalk thread where some are reporting on availability.

I’m a bit torn as to whether or not I should take advantage of this. On one hand I’m tempted to pick up maybe $5,000 worth of vouchers, but at the same time I’m not sure how worthwhile it is. Costco takes American Express, so I would earn one Membership Rewards point (or one Starwood point) per dollar spent, which I value at around two cents per point. If I booked a ticket directly with American I would earn three points per dollar spent, since my Premier Rewards Gold card gives me three Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare. At two cents each that’s basically a 6% return vs. a 2% return through Costco, or a difference of 4%. That means I’d essentially be getting a 6% discount by buying these certificates, not factoring in the time value of money, time and gas it costs to buy these, etc.

I’m leaning towards stocking up, though it’s not that compelling…


  1. I was actually just about to blog about this 🙂 I was at my local Costco’s yesterday (116th Street in NYC), and they had MANY certificates available. I stocked up on $2,100 worth. The good thing is that you can return them if they are not used – I was able to do this with lift tickets purchased at Costco even after ski season was over. Additionally, in your above calculation, note that with the Costco Executive Membership you get 2% back on all purchases (up to $500).

  2. If there is a 20 percent discount like Hyatts gift checks, then it might be more compelling. Most of Costco’s gift cards offer a 20 percent savings. One of my favorites is the California Pizza Kitchen gift cards: spend $80 and get 2 $50 CPK gift cards ($100 total). Maybe United will offer save 20 percent git cards at Costco someday?

  3. “Costco takes American Express, so I would earn one Membership Rewards point (or one Starwood point) per dollar spent”

    You can buy Costco cash cards from using Visa, MC, Amex or Discover. Free shipping takes a few days and then take the cash card to the local store to buy the AA cards.

  4. I called multiple locations around NYC and
    It seems they are the only ones who have it in stock.

  5. You can get 3.6% cash back plus 1x miles or points using a non-AMEX card:

    1x miles or points for purchase of AMEX GC
    1.6% cash back via big crumbs on AMEX GC purchase
    2% cash back via Costco executive membership

  6. Here’s the reason I am going to get one of the $300 vouchers…. I just signed up for the Amex Platinum Business, and got 100k miles as a sign on bonus in a targeted promotion. I am transferring those 100k by the end of July to get a 50% bonus on BA miles, netting me 150k BA miles for this $450 card.

    I will then buy one of these purchases at Costco to quickly redeem my free 200$ in Amex travel comps. Easy redemption at a 10% bonus. Turns my Amex travel reward into $220. With the $100 Global Entry benefit,,, this put me at $320 payback on a $450 card. Not to mention all the countless benefits from carrying the platinum card, and of course the 150k BA miles 🙂

  7. Do you have to pay sales taxes twice? One when you buy the gift card and two when you buy the plane ticket?

  8. WARNING–AA will not honor terms and conditions of use. They will not allow card to apply to base (coach) fare and use miles to upgrade although there is no limitation in terms.

  9. I saw this at a local Costco in L.A. a while back, will have to look for it again. (can’t remember if it was Culver City where I saw them)

  10. Just saw these today in Minneapolis–I think it’s the first time we’ve had them in our area, where AA is not strong.

  11. I must be calculating something incorrectly. If I buy a ticket at $300 x 3 MR points = 900 @ 2 cents = $18 savings. If I buy a gift card I save $30 on $300 ticket plus I used Amex to buy it so 279 MR points. I’ve used these for years for short, mid haul domestic with no problem although I’ve never tried to upgrade. You can use promo codes also.

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