Amex Platinum Card Benefits: $200 Annual Airline Fee Credit

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!

Amex Platinum Card Benefits: Adding Authorized Users
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: $200 Annual Airline Fee Credit
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: $200 Annual Uber Credit
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: Free Hotel Status
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: Airport Lounge Access
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: 5x Points On Airfare & Hotels
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: Global Entry Or TSA Pre-Check Credit
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: Free Rental Car Status
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: Fine Hotels & Resorts


Recently we saw The Platinum Card® from American Express relaunched with new benefits, a bigger sign-up bonus, and a higher annual fee. The card now has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months. On top of that, the card’s annual fee increased by $100, though I think for most people the new benefits will more than make up for the increased annual fee.

New-Amex-Platinum-Card

I get a lot of questions about the details of the benefits of The Platinum Card® from American Express, so I’m writing a series about the various benefits of the card.

In this post I wanted to talk about the $200 annual airline credit offered on the Amex Platinum Card, which I consider to be one of the most valuable benefits of the card.

What is the Amex Platinum Card $200 airline fee credit?

One of the benefits of the Amex Platinum Card is that you get a $200 airline fee credit every calendar year. You have to designate an airline, then make an eligible purchase between January 1 and December 31, and then you’ll be reimbursed within a few days.

What purchases are eligible for the Platinum Card airline fee credit?

Per the terms, the airline fee credit can only be applied towards airline fees (as the name suggests), which excludes 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.

Anecdotally, however, many report having luck purchasing airline gift cards and having those reimbursed. For example, this year I purchased two $100 American Airlines gift cards, and they were reimbursed a couple of days later.

amex-reimbursement-1

The American Express forum on FlyerTalk has individual threads dedicated to reimbursement reports for each airline, including AlaskaAmerican, Delta, HawaiianJetBlueSouthwest, and United. As you can see, anecdotally these credits can be used for a wide variety of things, from lounge memberships, to cancellation fees, to status challenge fees, to (in many cases) gift cards.

I’ve never had issues using these fee credits for gift card purchases in small increments, so personally I value this perk pretty close to face value. I get $200 worth of American Airlines gift cards per year, so the only opportunity cost is the 5x points I’m giving up by not paying airfare with Amex Platinum Card. I value those points at 1.7 cents each, so I guess the $200 airline gift card is worth ~$183 to me.

Do authorized users get the Amex Platinum Card fee credit?

Yes and no. An eligible purchase made from either the primary cardmember or an authorized cardmember would count towards the $200 limit. However, there’s only a total of $200 per account, regardless of how many authorized users you have. So if you have three authorized users, you’d still only get a total of a $200 airline fee credit. So spend from all users counts, but having authorized users doesn’t increase your airline fee credit limit.

How do you designate an airline for the airline fee credit?

Before you use your Amex Platinum Card to pay an airline fee, be sure you designate which airline you want the credit to be valid for. Your choices are Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, and United.

Each year you have to designate an airline for your airline fee credit, which can be done at americanexpress.com/airlinechoice. You can change your designated airline once per year.

amex-fee-credit

If you’ve already designated an airline for your fee credit in previous years, then it will automatically be transferred over to the next year. You can change it once per year, though if you want to keep the same airline, there’s nothing you have to do.

Do you get $400 in airline fee credits the first year?

The annual fee on the Amex Platinum Card is billed based on your cardmember year, while the airline credit is awarded based on the calendar year. In other words:

  • If you are approved for the Amex Platinum Card in April 2017, your second year’s annual fee will be due in April 2018
  • The $200 airline credit is offered on the basis of a calendar year, so you’d get a $200 airline fee credit now through December 31, and then another $200 airline fee credit starting January 1, 2018.

So you’d get a total of $400 in airline fee credits before your second year’s annual fee is due.

Some might say “well yeah, but then you don’t get an airline credit with your second year’s annual fee.” That’s not true. Using the above example, you’d get another $200 airline credit in January 2019, before your third year’s annual fee is due.

In other words, if you get the Amex Platinum Card and keep it long term, you’ll have one more airline credit than annual fees. How you do the mental accounting for that is up to you. But unless you’re illogically canceling your card, one year you’re going to get $400 in airline credits.

Bottom line

The $200 annual airline fee credit nicely offsets the annual fee on the Amex Platinum Card. Since I value the airline fee credit pretty close to face value (let’s call it ~$180), for mental accounting purposes it lowers the annual fee on the card to ~$370, not accounting for the fact that you’d get two of these credits one cardmember year.

While there’s no guarantee that the airline fee credit can be redeemed so easily in the future, up until now I’ve been able to get incredible value out of it.

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. having a platinum card I thought great tried to book flight with Amex travel and fee got refused. found out that as don’t spend 2000 pound a month could not authorise . is the card really worth having .

  2. Hey lucky, I know this series will take a while since the AMEX platinum has A LOT of benefits, but once you are done, can you do one of these series for the Chase Sapphire reserve as well?

  3. It’s true that a renewal after the first year still gets you an extra $200 credit, towards the end of that second year. But the only year for which you get 2 credits is the first year. After that, it’s just one credit for each year’s renewal. So there is an argument for cancelling the card just before renewal having enjoyed two credits, and then getting a different card for another 2-4-1 credit deal.

    If course, it’s not really very

  4. Jetblue doesn’t offer gift cards so that could have been an article written on how to use the $200
    During the flight on jetblue it asks you to buy Amazon prime on the WiFi. Does this count for the $200 incidental? Bought a plane ticket then bought insurance. Insurance doesn’t get credit back. Another article that seemed to not be written. These clickbate articles are becoming useless. Nothing here that’s not written on the company website.

  5. Recently I purchased a SWA award ticket, which came with the typical $11 or so in fees. I had not yet bought the annual gift cards (just lazy) and to my surprise the $11 was credited back….

  6. Good post, Lucky. One small but important detail that should be mentioned is that, while incidental purchases made between January 1 and December 31 are eligible for the $200 credit, card holders must specify/change their airline at the start of each year in January. So anyone who plans to fly in Q1 should have no problem designating his/her airline, but for someone not flying until later in the year, it can be tricky. That’s one of the reasons why I consider the Amex Platinum to be inferior to the CSR (not to mention the CSR’s more generous $300 travel credit and lower $450 annual fee).

  7. I bought Southwest gift cards last year and this year with this credit. I bought different amounts up to $155. All were reimbursed. (As a side note, when using the SW gift cards for flights, you can only use up to 4 gift cards and/or credits you may have for one flight. So buying smaller increments may not get you where you need to go. I bought smaller increments based on data points given by others, but next time I’ll try for the full $200.)

  8. “the only opportunity cost is the 5x points I’m giving up by not paying airfare with Amex Platinum Card. I value those points at 1.7 cents each, so I guess the $200 airline gift card is worth ~$183 to me.”

    As brosh mentions above, your analysis here is incorrect as Amex gives 5X points on the giftcard purchases.

  9. @ T.R. — If only works if you buy it directly from the airline, since the purchase is processed directly by the airline that way.

  10. I can only speak for Delta, but people should be aware that anything over $50 won’t trigger the reimbursement. If Delta just buy $50 x 4.

  11. can i purchase up to 200 dollars worth of gift cards from Delta and use them for booking airline credit and have amex reimbursed me the 200 dollars?

  12. Seems very secretive about the airline credit since the Amex disclosure clearly states no reimbursement for gift cards.
    Jet Blue doesn’t have gift cards so if you picked Jet Blue you screwed yourself. Lesson learn. Do research so that websites like this don’t mislead and tell you pick your airline and buy a gift card to later find out no gift card you You have to buy 4×50….
    Just a bunch of clickbate website

  13. Alaska airlines no longer works. It’s coded as Alaska air gift card so they won’t do it. Lame!

  14. As of July 2017, this no longer works. You will just be stuck with paying for a gift card for the airline.

  15. @Muffin – SW still works, I just purchased 2 in small amounts July 29th and the credit showed up August 1st.

  16. Does anyone have experience on using the $200 annual credit on United Airlines for gift card purchase? Trying to figure out how to use my credit on United.

  17. Is there a way to check the balance used for this benefit? I think I’ve used $150 of $200 this year but I’m’ not 100% sure and don’t know where to go to check. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *