A new year of American Express Platinum airline fee credits!

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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.

Happy new year!

One of the few good things about the new year in our part of the world (given that most elite counters are reset) is that those of us with American Express Platinum cards get a new $200 airline fee credit.

Here are the American Express cards with annual airline fee credits:

  • Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz — 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 within three months; access to Delta SkyClubs, select Priority Pass lounges, Airspace Lounges, and Centurion Lounges; $550 annual fee
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express — Access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta-operated flights, Priority Pass lounges, Airspace Lounges, and Centurion Lounges, $550 annual fee
  • The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN Application — Access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta-operated flights, Priority Pass lounges, Airspace Lounges, and Centurion Lounges; $450 annual fee

You have to designate an airline for your annual fee credit, which can be done at americanexpress.com/airlinechoice. Once you log in it will give you the option to change your preferred airline. If you want to keep the same airline as last year, then you don’t need to do anything.

What’s awesome about these airline fee credits is that in most cases they can be used to purchase airline gift cards, which to me are good as cash. The American Express forum on FlyerTalk has individual threads dedicated to reimbursement reports for each airline, including Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest, and United. As you can see, 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.

Last year I purchased four $50 American Airlines gift cards.

And within a few days those amounts were reimbursed.

And I’m off to do the same right now! This is why the $550 annual fee on the Platinum card is no big deal to me for the first year — the airline fee credit is based on a calendar year, while the annual fee is based on the card member year, so it’s easy to squeeze two airline fee credits out of a single annual fee.

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  1. Can you let us know the success? Last year I tried and missed (with a $100). The $200 was ultimately used for other incidentals though.

  2. Can you have a flight booked with another airline and get into Delta, US Air, or American lounge with one of these Amex Cards?

  3. Don’t forget the incidental $200 credits with the Ritz Carlton Visa Card have reset today too – and you don’t have to specify a single airline 🙂

  4. @ frank — American again. I plan on buying four $50 gift cards.

    @ Ed — I’ll report back!

    @ janyyc — It’s a different type of Platinum card co-branded with Mercedes Benz, and it has a better sign up bonus than the other version of the card.

    @ Eric — With US Airways you can be flying any airline and use their lounges. However, with American and Delta you have to actually be flying them to use the lounge. That being said, you also get a Priority Pass membership, which gets you into more lounges regardless of which airline you’re flying.

  5. Ben – love the blog and have been an avid reader for years, but the proliferation of credit card posts and subsequent referral links are getting a bit excessive.

  6. I would advise folks to keep on top of the $200 refund. My refund did not post for the United Club membership after a month, so Amex issued a manual refund. Last year, the refund posted within a few days, so not sure why it did not post automatically this time.

  7. I just started reading travel blogs 🙁 Could you please tell me what Global Entry is or where I can get more information? Thank you.

  8. Morgan Stanley account holders are able to get an Amex Platinum Card with 50,000 MR and only 1000 spend in 3 months. Also the second card is free. No additional 175 fee

  9. Ben-

    Can you confirm that the Mercedez-Benz card also gets the Global Entry reimbursement? It doesn’t list that on the website. And you can’t get it if you currently have the standard Amex platinum, right?


  10. @Jim. Completely disagree with you. I appreciate these posts. Especially this one as I have a trip tomorrow and it reminded me to change my airline this year.

  11. @ Scottman — Yes, it’s definitely eligible for the Global Entry fee reimbursement.

    You’re not eligible for the sign-up bonus if you have the standard American Express Platinum card, though you never know, the bonus may post anyway. Crazier things have happened.

  12. @ lucky & scottman: I was under the impression that you could do get MB’s bonus if you had the standard Plat. If this is not the case, do you know what the time between cards needs to be. It was my plan to cancel my Plat a couple of weeks before the annual fee hit and apply for the MB the next day. Am I out of luck?

  13. @ Heather — I’ll double check, but the standard waiting period between getting the bonus again is 12 months.

  14. @Heather: I applied for the MB Plat while I had the regular Plat and then cancelled the regular Plat after I received the MB one and still got the bonuses

  15. Thanks for the info. @Will… sounds like you lucked out. @Lucky… can I apply for the premier rewards gold card if I also have the platinum and still get the points? Might jump on that if a promo is announced soon.

  16. @ Scottman — The terms say that if you’re had the Platinum card in the past 90 days you can’t earn the bonus.

    @ Carl — The reimubrsement seems to be triggered by small purchases from airlines (meaning any small purchase is a “fee”). Perhaps purchasing a $200 gift card works just as well, though the smaller the gift card, the more it looks like a fee.

  17. Ben- Does the four $50 gift card trick only work for American? Will it work for United also?

    “This is why the $450 annual fee on the Platinum card is no big deal to me for the first year ,… so it’s easy to squeeze two airline fee credits out of a single annual fee.” Ben, I thought you keep this card yr to yr. Thus only get $200 in credit.

  18. @ John — Most reports indicate that United gift cards are reimbursed.

    I do keep the card year to year, though this year plan on canceling the personal card since I have the business card as well, and then getting it again next year.

  19. I have a Platinum AMEX issued through Fidelity.
    Is the “25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within three months” deal good for that card?


  20. Is the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Platinum Amex identical to the standard Platinum Amex except for the sign up bonus and the fact that you have to have an MSSB account? Are you still eligible for all the other benefits, Global Entry, $200 airline credit, lounge access, etc?

  21. @lucky, will & scottman, yeh just upon reading the offer link page, the MB says “this product” whereas the regular Plat says “this, gold, green etc.”. I think maybe will’s story is the norm that you can have the regular Plat and the MB bonus will still post (even if you don’t cancel).

    Anyone have additional anecdotal advice? Here’s hoping!

  22. @ W Brian Duncan — I know it can be used for each authorized user (which more than justifies the additional user fee), and I’d assume that you can use it multiple times (I’d say probably once a year), though it’s not explicitly written anywhere.

  23. Happy New Year Ben,
    you say….so it’s easy to squeeze two airline fee credits out of a single annual fee….do I understand this right that if I would get the MB card this month (Jan 2013)complete the spending requirements and pay the annual fee that I could buy 4 $50 AA gift cards lets say in May and then again in July I would get a total of $400 credit on my statements? thus only paying an effective $50 annual fee for the AX MB…..THANKS for your input on this.

  24. @ stefan — Happy new year to you as well! You have the right idea (that you can get $400 of credits for a $450 annual fee). If you apply now you can get one credit between now and December 31, and then on January 1 of next year you’d be entitled to another $200 credit. So it’s based on calendar years, while your annual fee is based on your card anniversary.

    Does that make sense? 🙂

  25. @lucky – Yes, it makes sense, thank you. In what form does that credit appear? Like in a side note as my points with SPG AX or? And in what time frame do I have to use this credit/s?
    Thanks again for your input. Fairly new to this still.

  26. @ lucky – never mind my previous post…I saw above the way the credit appears when purchasing the gift cards…correct?

  27. Does the $200 AMEX Platinum Annual Airline Credit apply per account OR per cardholder? (We have 2 cards on 1 account)

  28. @ stefan — It appears as a statement credit as shown above. The terms of the gift cards would apply in regards to how long you have to use them.

    @ Alison — It’s per account.

  29. What value do you give 100K membership rewards points? I’m slow, but haven’t discovered MR yet…

  30. Is it normal for AA e-gift cards to take a few days to become available? I just purchased a few to use for a flight I was hoping to purchase today.

  31. Does the Mercedes Platinum Amex have the $200/yr incidentals benefit? I do not see it.

    It looks to me like that benefit has been replaced with credits towards leasing a Benz.

  32. Sorry if this is a silly question but where do you buy airline gift cards… at the airport ? I’ve seen Southwest at Office Max but I’m guessing that wouldn’t work since it won’t show up as Southwest correct?

  33. Appears the that T&Cs now exclude gift cards as part of the credit. I just purchased one to test, so will see if a credit is posted

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