Maximizing The Amex Platinum Airline Fee Credit Before Year End

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Update: Many details for The Platinum Card® from American Express have changed as of 3/30/17. The links below are expired, but you can learn more about the new offer and card benefits here!

Update: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN has exciting new benefits, and a great new limited time offer. Learn more about the current offer here.

For many years I’ve had either The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. I don’t actually spend much money on them. Instead, my spend is directed towards the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, which basically allows me to earn 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent (thanks to the 50% points bonus when you have 30 purchases per billing cycle).

Why the American Express Platinum Card is worth it

While the Platinum Card has a $450 annual fee, it comes with many benefits which help offset it:

Assuming you value the $200 airline fee credit at anywhere close to face value, that has the potential to be worth $200. I value it more-or-less at face value, so I mentally calculate my “out of pocket” on the card as being $250 per year. Frankly I’d probably pay that for access to Centurion Lounges alone, given that I fly through Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami and New York LaGuardia quite frequently. I’ve used Centurion Lounges ~25 times so far this year.

Centurion-Lounge-Spa
Complimentary spa treatments at the Amex Centurion Lounge Dallas

If you’re a less frequent traveler, there’s a lot of value to be had with SPG Gold, Hilton Gold, the Gogo inflight internet passes (I have an unlimited membership, but it’s great to be able to gift them to friends), Priority Pass access, SkyClub access, etc.

Delta-SkyClub-San-Francisco - 7
Access the Delta SkyClub San Francisco with your Amex Plat Card

Taking action on the $200 airline fee credit

The one thing to take action on now are the airline fee credits of $200 per calendar year. This could also impact when you should apply for the card, as now is one of the best times to do so:

  • If you don’t yet have the Amex Personal Platinum Card or Amex Business Platinum Card, you can apply for them now and should still have time to get the airline fee credit for 2015, and then it’ll be reset on January 1, 2016, meaning you can get $400 in airline fee credits in a matter of weeks
  • If you do have the Amex Plat Card, make sure you request your airline fee credit in the coming weeks

PRG-Airline-Fee-Credit-1
PRG-Airline-Fee-Credit

How to request your airline fee credit

Before you make a purchase using your airline fee credit you’ll need to designate an airline, which can be done at americanexpress.com/airlinechoice. Once you log in it will give you the option to select your preferred airline. If you’re an existing cardmember and chose an airline last year, it will default to the same airline as before, though you can change that.

So what can airline fee credits be used for? The terms and conditions state that airline fee credits exclude the following:

Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.

In practice, however, it seems like these reimbursements work on a wide variety of things. The American Express forum on FlyerTalk has individual threads dedicated to reimbursement reports for each airline, including Alaska, American, Delta, HawaiianJetBlueSouthwest, and United. For example, in the American thread, people consistently report being reimbursed for American gift cards purchased in small increments. Which isn’t to say it will definitely continue to be possible, but up until now it has been.

For the past several years (including this year) that’s how I’ve been using my airline fee credit.

Bottom line

If you already have the Amex Personal Platinum Card or Amex Business Platinum Card, be sure you take full advantage of your annual airline fee credit in the coming weeks, before it’s 2016.

If you don’t yet have either card, now is a great time to apply. You’ll have a $200 airline fee credit to use in the coming weeks, then another $200 to use starting January 1, meaning you’ll potentially have $400 of airline fee credits back in your pocket in less than a month (before the annual fee is even due).

The Amex Platinum is a fantastic card for the perks it offers. Even though I don’t spend much on the card, I get a lot of value out of the Centurion Lounges, SkyClubs, Boingo hotspot, Gogo passes, and more.


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Comments

  1. Hey,
    I try to do United miles and travelling. Want to know what credit cards you use and how do you get free flights so often?
    Email. Thanks

  2. I’m about to start my own period of “homelessness” (I airbnb out my Seattle house), and want to do much more travel than I have in the last few years. First of all, thanks for this great blog–I just found it. My questions are about being literally without a home base, but still have quality of life:
    1.I’m addicted to being online. Airports and airlines are spotty about free wi-fi. I want constant access, but don’t want to pay for it. Any advice on maximimiing free wi-fi on the road?
    2. I LOVE clean laundry. How do you achieve this, at a low cost, while traveling or long periods?
    3. In the past I’ve travelled one or two weeks at a time. I basically throw health to the wind, and eat whatever I want during that time. Now that I want to travel pretty constantly, I’d love to hear how you eat healthy on the road. (I also love wine and cocktails, but won’t bother trying to save money on that).

    Thanks!

  3. @ CCORD

    Yes, I just did it a week a go with the Premier Rewards Gold for Delta, not sure about other airlines though.

  4. I have the AMEXPlat, i know i have had some credits for baggage fees to europe this year, i would probably request the balance in AA gift cards but dont know what is left of the 200$ annual,any simple way to find out?
    Thanks
    congrats on today LSTimes article

  5. @parick smith – log on to your amex plat account. select “statements and activity”. select “YTD” from pull-down. “AMEX Airline Fee Reimbursement” is a line item. Sum them.

  6. Tangential question: does anyone know if you can use Arrival+ points to credit purchases of United gift cards / gift registry?

  7. This card would be my ideal but the annual fee in Australia is AU$1200! I totally get there is always going to be extra added to the cost for almost anything down here, but seriously, this is just way too much, even after the $200 credit. Maybe even AU$7-800 annually I’d accept, but the value proposition goes SERIOUSLY downhill from there.

  8. @Nathan Jordan, I hear you… Other than the USA, it’s way too much else where. It’s 1600USD here in Japan, and it’s an invitation only basis. Dunno if we would want to pay 1200USD plus for any of that.

  9. How are you able to gift the gogo passes to friends? I’d love to be able to do that because I usually can’t use them all.

  10. Just did this with 2x $100 gift cards with AA. Fingers crossed. Does anyone know if it works with JetBlue or any other airlines? I was hoping to try for a different airline in January.

  11. AA has long been my ” designated airline” with Amex, but I bought four $50 gift cards a couple of weeks ago and DID NOT get reimbursed.

  12. Do they go by purchase date or when the credit posted to determine the calendar year?
    That is, can one make a $200 purchase on December 31, and another $200 purchase January 1st and get both reimbursed?

    Thank you

  13. OMG. I just found this…So I’ve just narrowly missed out on the $200 from last year. :-/ Your info is incredible. That would have been awesome. I messed up!

  14. I bought a $50 gift certificate on April 9 for Delta, and I got reimbursed on April 11. It works!

  15. Has anyone had success buying miles from airlines and getting reimbursed? For example United is offering to reinstate 30k Miles for $200.

  16. Every airline I see only offers giftcards for points or points + cash. Has anyone been able to buy amazon gc’s that show up as airline merchant?

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