SLC Traveler

Buying a Delta ticket with multiple credit cards

I don't think I'm alone in wishing that Delta would make it easier to buy plane tickets using multiple credit cards. My company, for instance, will pay the equivalent of the cheapest economy fare (and before you start with the flame war telling me how cheap my company is I love that my company manages their finances well and I've never had to worry about my job during a recession).

From time to time, though, I want to either upgrade to business class or purchase an M-fare for 150% MQM accrual (I would only really do this at the end of the year if I needed a little extra mileage boost to hit the next medallion level; in general buying an M-fare on an international ticket is about as bad as just buying a discount business fare, I or S).

Delta's answer: Go to the airport
The easiest way to pay with more than one credit card is to drive to an airport and book the ticket at the counter. There are a few problems with this, though. First of all, if you are a lowly Silver Medallion (aka FO) you will have to pay an extra fee when booking with an agent at the airport (I think it's $25).

Worse than the direct ticketing charge (and anybody flying to Asia more than once per year is usually at least Gold Medallion) is that the cheapest online rates aren't always available from the airport counter. I had a situation where I found a business class fare for just above $3k (which would be a steal these days), but the cheapest fare that the Delta agent could find was $5k or so. I decided to suck it up and fly coach. For an extra $4k I could fly myself, my wife and two kids to Hawaii and have money left over for a hotel!

Riskier methods
Buy a refundable ticket, request a refund
A friend recently recommended that in order to use multiple credit cards you can buy a refundable ticket (to anywhere) for the amount you want to put on one card, request a refund and use the resulting ecredit and a separate credit card to buy your real ticket. This sounded smart to me but I called the medallion line and they told me that if you were to do this all online the refund would be credited back to your credit card (as opposed to issued as an ecredit).

She suggested that if I bought a refundable ticket and called them they might be able to issue the refund as an ecredit rather than a cash refund. She wasn't sure about this and had never done it before (I'm assuming she was not an amateur) and warned me that it could be a little "sticky" (whatever that means).

Use PayPal or Bill Me Later
I haven't personally done this either but I noticed that Delta accepts PayPal and Bill Me Later now for ticket purchases (people in the forums were claiming this was only for international purchasers but looking on Delta.com it appears that anybody can purchase tickets with these sources.

I know that either of these services will let you use multiple funding sources although I'm not sure how it would work logistically with one transaction (ie, I don't know if you can say that you want $1k of a single transaction to go on one card and the balance on another through the PayPal interface - it seems like you would have better luck with Bill Me Later for splitting up a payment since they do allow you to pay for purchases over time instead of all at once).

Conclusion
Paying with more than one credit card is hard. I don't know whether there are TSA regulations at play here although I doubt it; if so why would they be able to do it at the airport? Delta is leaving a lot of money on the table because rather than driving an hour roundtrip to the airport I typically just choose to fly economy when I would be willing to upgrade otherwise. They obviously have a talented programming team (the website is a thousand times better now than it was five years ago), they need to fix this!