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No Excise Fee on American Express US Airline Transfers

by on July 30, 2011 · 7 comments

in American Express, Continental, Delta

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As I’ve written about before, an interesting result of the ongoing budget drama and quasi-FAA shutdown is the inability for airlines to collect certain taxes on tickets. Fares were briefly lower last week, until the opportunistic airlines decided (almost in unison, hmm) to raise fares the amount of the taxes they would have collected.

While I completely understand that airlines are businesses and need to make money, I was disappointed nonetheless, because airfares this summer (at least on the routes I take) have skyrocketed and every little savings helps.

However, not all savings are lost. American Express is not charging the typical 6/100 cent per point tax when you transfer Membership Rewards points to a US Airline partner (Delta, Continental, Frontier, AirTran, JetBlue and Hawaiian). That fee seems insignificant, but equates to $60 on a 100,000 point transfer and is capped at $99 for any single transfer.

While I generally recommend keeping points in your account until you have an absolute need to transfer them, this tax holiday can save you a good amount, especially if you were planning to transfer a points to Delta for either of their 50% or 67% transfer bonuses, or move a large chunk to Continental before their last day in the program (September 30th, 2011). I haven’t been following the budget crisis too much, but I’m sure this tax holiday will come to an end soon! (Note: you never have to pay these taxes on transfers to foreign frequent flyer program partners like British Airways and ANA)

I transferred points to Continental yesterday for an award and personally enjoyed the fee-free transfer!

FYI: several people have asked me whether you should pay the excise fee with points or cash and I always recommend using cash (unless you are cash broke and points rich) – Amex points are generally more valuable than the 1 cent per point ratio Amex designates. I will talk more about this subject in an upcoming post on the Pay With Points feature.

If you need a Membership Rewards card, check out the comments on this post. It appears you can still get 100,000 miles for the Platinum Card or 75,000 for the Premier Rewards Gold. The official bonuses on the cards are 25,000 (Platinum) and 15,000 (Premier Rewards, with first year $175 annual fee waived), but Amex seems to be in a good mood lately and is giving increased bonus offers to those who ask. And as I always say, it never hurts to ask.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Danny

    Hah, I believe a more accurate summary of AmEx’s behavior lately is: “it never hurts to ask 7 to 10 times because eventually you’ll find the one rep who works at the company who is in a good mood AND realizes they have the authority to help you”.

  • Peter

    Can you combine the Delta 50% or 67% transfer bonuses together? Have anyone try?

  • Anonymous

    No, they are not stackable. I haven’t heard of anyone getting both.. even if they did, I’m sure Delta would fix it, like they did last time

  • AAP

    TPG – I read about the 50% or 67% Delta transfer offer, but I couldn’t find all the details or the links to the promos. Is it safe to assume the 67% Delta transfer offer is far and way the better offer or are there string attached to it?

    Secondly, in your opinion, if you have no status on either Delta or BA (have AA Gold though), which one has the better Amex Transfer option right now? I’m doing my best to avoid domestic award travel and save up for international trips, but occasionally I’ll do the LAX-JFK award flight on either American, United, or Delta.

  • Mattolo

    I believe the taxes are also lower for buying miles from the airlines right now.

  • Anonymous

    Is AX still not charging the excise fee with points to be transferred to Delta as I plan to transfer 100K miles to get 50% Plus 25,000 MQM.. as that charge is coming to $ 60 and is showing up when I try to transfer the points..Thanks..

  • Anonymous

    Fees are back due to FAA re-authorization :-(

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