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Maximizing the Amex Platinum $200 Airline Fee Credit

by on December 6, 2011 · 102 comments

in American Express

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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

To ease the sting of Continental leaving Membership Rewards, American Express added a bunch of benefits to the Platinum card this year, including a $200 yearly airline fee credit on your airline of choice. If you are a Platinum cardholder and haven’t already selected your airline, you can sign up here.

There is a link for a 50,000 point sign-up bonus circulating the internet, but I’ve been told that offer is targeted. If you do decide to go that route (here is the link), make sure to take lots of screen shots in case you need to prove you applied for that offer. If anyone has any recent experience applying for the 50k offer, please comment below.

This benefit is for all Platinum card members and runs on a calendar year – so if you don’t use it all by December 31, you lose it. So this means that if you got a Platinum card now- you’d get $200 until December 31 and then another $200 on January 1. Those $400 in credits basically pay for the first year annual fee of $450. Also, if you ever decide the Platinum card isn’t the right choice for you, you can always downgrade to a lower/no fee card or cancel and Amex will refund prorated your annual fee.

The fee credit is automatic- as long as you purchase any of the following items directly from an airline, the charge should get automatically rebated from your statement.

Approved items:
Checked baggage fees
Overweight/oversize baggage fees
Change fees
Phone reservation fees
Pet flight fees
Airport lounge day passes and annual memberships
Seat assignment fees
In-flight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, etc)
In-flight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet)

This credit is not applicable for the following charges:
Airline tickets
Charges processed by merchants other than the airline the Cardmember is enrolled in (for example, inflight Internet services providers such as GoGo)
Charges made by airline partners (for example, Cardmember purchase ticket on enrolled airline Delta, but purchases food on an Air France flight)
Trip insurance / baggage insurance
Ticket upgrades (Including American Airlines Upgrade Stickers)
Travel agent fees
Point transfer fees
Duty free purchase
Award ticket fees
Gift cards issued by Airlines

There seems to be a ton anecdotal evidence on Flyertalk, however, that people have in fact been able to use their $200 reimbursement to purchase airline tickets, upgrades, and even elite status through a variety of methods that have to do with the amount a ticket or airline voucher costs in addition to the way it is coded on their credit card bill.

It seems as though, if the charge is quoted as “Travel – Airline,” that the chance of reimbursement is pretty slim. The operative factors here seem to be both the way a ticket is charged, or the amount of money spent on a fare, as well as a variety of sidestepping methods that include purchasing airline vouchers (usually at the $100 mark or under) that can then be used pretty much for any expense on the airline, including tickets.

Here are some examples from the Flyertalk thread – note: none of this means it will work for you so proceed with caution.

Buy a Cheap Ticket

Back in February, one flyer who had selected US Airways as his carrier was reimbursed for cheap one-way tickets on the airline–something about the fare code or price level triggered the Amex system to credit him. Another flyer, this time on US Airways, had two tickets reimbursed, one for $65 and another for $135 that came up on his statement as “Travel-Airline,” and suspects that it’s because the tickets were under a certain price threshold. That seems to be backed up by a Delta flyer who had a $99.70 ticket charge refunded. The same story with another person who purchased six one-way tickets on Continental from SFO-LAS under a single record locator and was reimbursed $200 from the total amount.

Combination Payments

Another way that seems to confuse the system is to pay for a ticket using a combination of accounts–namely e-vouchers or credits and then your Amex card for the remainder. One person was issued a compensation e-voucher on American Airlines for a delayed flight, and used it to purchase part of another ticket on the airline, then used their Amex Platinum to pay for the difference, and when the statement came, that balance had been refunded as part of the $200 credit. This same passenger also booked four one-way award tickets on AA and paid the taxes and fees using his Amex Platinum, and when the statement came, these too had been refunded. And a flyer on Delta used vouchers to purchase tickets and paid the difference between voucher value and ticket price (about $94 per ticket) using the Amex, which then reimbursed him for the $94 on each ticket. And another example of someone who purchased an $80 one-way fare on Delta.com that was reimbursed as well.

Vouchers

One way many Amex Platinum customers seem to be finding success at reimbursement is to purchase small-amount airline vouchers. Though one AA flyer didn’t get reimbursed for a $200 travel certificate he bought on AA.com,  another who purchased four $50 certificates was reimbursed immediately, and he could use them to purchase airline tickets, so a lot of people conjecture that the amount of each purchase has a lot to do with whether the reimbursement goes through. This seems to be the method of choice–quite a few people reported being reimbursed for buying several $50 airline certificates, and for a couple, it has worked with two $100 gift cards. On Continental, a $25 gift card and a $75 gift card were reimbursed, but not one over $100, and on Alaska, a $50 gift voucher was also reimbursed. The key seems to be purchasing gift vouchers of under $100, and of just $50 each to be safe.

Lounges and Elite Status

One person got $200 their Alaska Boardroom annual lounge membership reimbursed after a series of emails and calls, though most of the posters seem to find that annual membership fees are not reimbursed. And if elite status interests you, one person reports charging the $200 US Airways Trial Preferred, where you are pre-granted elite status while you complete a trial challenge period, and being reimbursed without incident.

Upgrades

Another person purchased discount economy tickets on United, then used 15,000 miles and $50 in cash each way to upgrade to first class, and both $50 charges were credited back by Amex within 24 hours of his check-in, when the charges were originally incurred. Similarly, one person flying on Delta used SkyMiles to book tickets to Paris, and paid $176 in taxes, which were reimbursed on his statement by Amex. These upgrade fees and award tickets charges are part of what is supposed to be reimbursed, but that’s not always the case. If you have any problem with your reimbursement on such charges, be sure to call in to Amex and complain.

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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  • Anonymous

    So, in the early part you say that lounge memberships are covered, but later you say that people are not getting it refunded? My strategy was to use the credit in January towards my Skyclub membership and then cancel the card (it comes due end of January). How can I find out if they will refund that? I will NOT buy the membership if they don’t refund that $200. Thanks.

  • Matt Adams

    Should note that the corporate platinum card does not include the airline credit.

  • Hesslers

    I purchased 10 Delta lounge passes in November. They have a sale right now 5 passes for $99. Delta charged it in two transactions of $99 each and two days later AMEX posted two $99 credits.

  • Klrsmith

    I’ve purchased a couple of “at kiosk” upgrades on American flights over the last couple of months, and those were quickly reimbursed by Amex up to the $200 limit.

  • joediver

    Bought CO Gift Certificates on both Personal Plat and Business Plat with instant gratification!

  • http://www.deltapoints.com deltaGOLDflyer

    I did 2 SW Air $100 gift cards no problem!

  • Rob

    Do you have a link to this? Thanks!

  • Rebecca

    Once you enroll an airline can you switch it mid-year? Can I toggle enrollment between US Air and American depending on what I am flying?

  • Anonymous

    Nope- one selection per year

  • Eddie

    I inquired about the $150 ticket change fee (US Air) and Amex said that would be covered. Is this courtesy, or standard?

  • Anonymous
  • obsidian

    Is it $200 per account or $200 per card holder?

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been told that’s not a public offer and that 50k is targeted so I’d be very careful banking on those points. I’ll add it to the post with that disclaimer- if you apply take lots of screen shots and be prepared to fight (which isn’t easy with Amex these days)

  • Hesslers

    As I understand it, this is a special that you can buy only when you visit a Skyclub and they are selling them until Dec 31st if memory serves me correctly.

  • JF

    So, how does the fee work? I pay it up front and then it comes again in 1 year or is it on a calendar basis? Let’s say I got the PRG and am going to do try to do the 50k MR upgrade bonus, wouldn’t it be better to do this in December and get the bonus points and I would get 2 $200 credits, for a total of $400 on my 1 year of membership?

  • Anonymous

    First off, the PRG (Premier Rewards Gold) does not have the $200 airline credit- only Platinum.

    And you pay the $450 up front but if you were to cancel the card in 6 months you’d get half of that back. They bill based on when you open the card- not calendar year

  • Anonymous

    Account. if you have 4 additional cardholders,all of you get a total of $200

  • JF

    I know the PRG doesn’t have that, that’s why I said I do the upgrade bonus… http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/50-000-mr-points-for-upgrade-from-pr-gold-to-platinum.21092/

  • http://getgowing.wordpress.com Get Gowing

    I’ve had the taxes/fees of a Delta award ticket be reimbursed. That combines nicely with being a PM or DM. :-)

  • Jim

    Just got approved for the 50k offer, but didn’t realize it was targeted for first-time AmEx holders! Is there anyone in a similar situation who has spoken to AmEx about this? I was also wondering if there’s any chance to receive another bonus ID that would provide perhaps 25k points if I’m ineligible for the 50k offer.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like it says you have to be a new AmEx cardholder. Not sure if that means the Platinum card or any card. I may give it a shot since I’ve never had the card and have been considering it for some time for the lounge access, TripIt and trusted traveler.

  • Flyer Fun

    I had a $600 upgrade fee on Continental. I called and the agent agreed to credit the $200 towards that fee.

  • Naotkxx

    HI.
    I know this card is first time AMEX holders. I have SPG, GOLD, Hilton card from Amex and I would like to apply for this card as well. Jim said he got approved for 50k. I am just afraid i won’t get 50 k since i am not new member for amex. do other people who already have amex cards also get approved for this 50k promotion?

  • Wingtipwalker

    I just got the 50,000 bonus when I upgraded from a green card. I called to just upgrade to PRGold, but they offered me the Platinum with 50k.

    One variance, my CS agent said the $200 airline fee followed a membership year, not a calendar year which is different from what you said above. Has anyone else verified this?

    I may keep the Plat or I may downgrade to PRGold in a few months. The agent told me to wait 6 months to ensure they don’t take my points away.

  • Drstickel

    I’m also curious about this. It’s listed in the post as covered for annual memberships, but then it says flyer talk people aren’t getting it reimbursed?

  • DannyB

    Is there an offer code for the 50k offer? Given TPG’s tip that it may be target, I would feel better about calling with an offer ID and having a rep confirm the offer on the recorded line in case I need to fight for the points.

  • Anonymous

    FWIW, I spoke with an Amex Platinum CSR about the possibility of switching my previous choice of airline (UA), and the CSR said as long as I had not used any of the $200 credit, Amex would allow it. Of course, YMMV.

    I ultimately decided to stick with UA and purchased one $200 gift certificate, and Amex reimbursed me. The reason I went with one $200 certificate (as opposed to 4 X $50 certificates) is that the T&C states “Only one Gift Certificate may be used per transaction for the purchase of airline tickets.” I didn’t want to limit myself to a $50 credit/airline ticket.

  • Tcmaes

    I originally did the same, but I just checked my transaction history. It looks as if AMEX refunded me originally, but took back that refund now. You may want to check your records.

  • JD

    I currently have the Gold Card, Business Gold Card, SPG, HH, and DL cards. The requirement is that you are a first time PLATINUM AMEX cardholder, not that you are a first time AMEX cardholder. Received the 50K bonus without a problem. Was also told by CRS that this is NOT a targeted offer and is valid through 12/31/11.

  • HousboatLI

    Hi, TPG,

    I have a very elementary question… How do you take a “screen shot”??? It sounds like a great idea to keep a record of transactions and terms of offers…, but I’m not very techno savvy, so I have no idea how to do this. I have an apple computer, if that makes any difference. Can someone give me some quick instructions?

    Thanks so much!

  • Naotkxx

    Thanks. I will apply for that card for sure.

  • http://www.deltapoints.com deltaGOLDflyer

    Nope account closed so no can do (that is they can not do) ;-)

  • Jeff

    I just did a $200 Continental online gift cert — was credited automatically and consistent with the experience I saw here

    http://milecards.com/2930/how-to-use-your-200-amex-platinum-airline-credit-by-1231-or-lose-it/

  • dracs

    command+shift+3 , it will save the screenshot on desktop

  • hi

    Does this $200 have to be USED this calendar year or can I put it towards a seat upgrade for an upcoming flight next year?

  • Matt

    I just signed up for this card yesterday! Should have it within 7 days, so I’m hoping to find some goodies to make the most of the $200 credit before the end of 2011.

    Now here’s my main question … we have to pick an airline? What’s the best strategy for that? Being in MSP, Delta is my main airline for work travel. But I fly United (and sometimes American) a lot for personal travel due to cost or reward availability.

  • http://www.2beerqueers.com infomofo

    I recently bought some MQMs on the latest delta promo, and I had about 150 dollars of credit left. I called my plat number and they said they could credit me the 150 towards that purchase!

  • Matt

    I almost answered my own question when I realized that United has a club at MSP (in Terminal 1 with my Delta flights, no less) which would make Delta the best all-around choice for benefits usage. But now I see that United and Delta, unlike some other airlines, do not seem to sell gift cards to make easy use of the $200. Choices, choices.

  • Troy

    I believe award ticket fees ARE covered. I booked 2 flight s from TPA – ZRH with SkyMiles and was refunded $200 of the fee. Image attached.

  • Troy

    I believe award ticket fees ARE covered. I booked 2 flight s from TPA – ZRH with SkyMiles and was refunded $200 of the fee. Image attached.

  • GarthGavenda

    Has anyone bought/used Delta gift certificates with the card? It sounds like they can only be purchased/used at a ticket counter.

  • Speedw

    I purchased two $100 gift certificates on American and received my refund within 3 days

  • joediver

    Just buy Continental Gift Certificates. You can use those at the United Club

  • Martin

    Does anyone know if the Amex Aeroplan platinum card qualifies for this offer?

  • Anonymous

    Correct- just use it this year. They don’t know/care how you use whatever you buy

  • Naotkxx

    Thanks. I just got approved and will be waiting for the card.

  • GGG

    Link to AmEx works. Received confirmation with 50,000 Membership Award bonus offer included.

  • Pickaroonwyo

    Has anyone purchased a Amex gift card at Delta Marketplace for miles and points? (i.e. $100 for 1500 skymiles and $99.49 on Amex plat)

  • lsb286

    When purchasing “vouchers” for AA, is that the same thing as the gift cards they sell. I know it seems like a stupid question, but I specifically searched for AA vouchers since that is the semantics utilized in the blog post but I can only find gift cards on AA.com

  • Napolehon

    I picked UA and dont have any flights planned. They dont sell any gift certificates so is there any way i can use up the $180 left in the reimbursement for this year? Thanks!

  • Brad

    TPG–question for you- I have never applied for a Amex Platinum but do have other Amex accounts. It states membership rewards for 1st time card members only. I know that others have stated that is just for Platinum but can you very the validity?

  • Nap

    I believe that buying US air mile will not be covered. is it true? did anyone try this?

  • Ddcoffeelady

    I did get targeted for the AM Ex Platinum upgrade from Gold Premier – 50000 bonus Membership Rewards points have already been credited to my account and I have not even gotten the card yet! Supposed to be coming today to use for travel on Saturday.

  • Patti

    HELP did you buy a United gift certificate? I cannot find a way to do so – and hoping if I buy Contintental that it will work with UA

  • Hoglard1

    I bought the $200 gift certificate on the CO website. I’m counting on it being honored when CO and UA merge.

  • Patti

    but did you get reimbursed on your paltinum card ? did they credit you $200 already?

  • Alan

    Hi TPG, I activated my AMEX Plat card on 12/28, firstly purchased 4*50 bucks AA gift card. Then I registered AA as my airline. Two questions on these: 1. Does the sequence of registering preferred airline matter? 2. Since my transactions are within 2011 if AMEX credit me back at some time point in early Jan 2012, can I still have their reimbursement for the 2012 200 bucks? Thanks a lot.

  • Ddcoffeelady

    Got the Am Ex Platinum and purchased USAIR gift card. Today the cost was refunded to my Am Ex account.
    Just wish I had charged the full $200! Love the card and the service Am Ex provides.

  • Anonymous

    Yes I got reimbursed all $200 three days after I purchased on my Amex Plat card.

  • WindowSeat

    Has anyone ever received reimbursement for Southwest vouchers?

  • Wingtipwalker

    I’m considering using

  • Wingtipwalker

    I’m considering signing up for an AA Platinum Challenge because I am going to be traveling a lot to start the year. Has anyone had the fee for the challenge reimbursed by AMEX?

  • Jon5kshp

    Just upgraded from Premier rewards gold to Platinum… got 25K in points for upgrading(posted within 2 days of upgrading) ((once points post they do not take them away)… I then registered for the new Continetnal/United and then purchased 200 dollars in gift cards. I AM PRAYING they credit me the 200 dollars for the United Gift Cards… Once i see the credit i am going back down to the Premier rewards gold card level….

    How i see it…
    450 annual fee is 37.50 a month
    i already got my 25K points
    and i hope to get my 200 credit in the next 1-3 weeks

    once i get my airline credit i will close the card and go back to premier rewards gold level…. they will prorate the whole 450 back minus the 37.50 and i will get a big gain on this transaction….

    My estimated gain
    25000 points = a round trip flight on continental united in continental 48 stats… flights usually 250-500 dollars right there
    plus i get the 200 dollar in gift certificates

    all for 1 months fee prorated of the 450 or 37.50

    i plan on this benefiting me value wise over 500 dollars.

  • Kachranumber1

    The airline credit is for domestic airlines only ! ..Could not select an International Airline.

  • Kris

    Does upgrade to economy plus come under “Seat assignment fees”?

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  • Max

    Ohhhhh…but they do. It’s a great plan, but your error is the belief that AMEX does not remove points. Your 25k would, if you seriously did this, be removed from your points balance by American Express.

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  • MiamiMike2

    I used it for the $140 AA Gold Challenge and was not reimbursed, but have yet to call and try.

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  • Mountain Man

    Yes!

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  • Matt MSP

    Bummer. After success in 2011 using the statement credit for 2x $100 Southwest gift cards, no luck in 2012.

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  • http://twitter.com/derrickisonline Derrick -Lex-

    Here is a good question which I think TPG explained but I just want to confirm. Looks like my Platinum card is to be delivered 12/31 does that mean I can take advantage of the credit by say ordering some gift cards which have proved to work for many and still get another $200 on Jan 1st to use? That would be sweet to make up for one year of the annual fee.

    Also is annual fee waived for first year like my gold card?

    Does Plat card take over Gold so I’m not paying annual fees on the gold when I will only use the Plat or must I cancel Gold?

    Great site BTW learned so much

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  • http://www.cardauthorizer.com/ credit card processing

    It’s a great plan, but your error is the belief that AMEX does not remove points. Your 25k would, if you seriously did this, be removed from your points balance by American Express.

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  • Elizabeth

    If a second user is added to this card (I think for 175 annually), does that user also get lounge access and 200 dollars credit?

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  • Eric

    They don’t get another 200$ airline credit. They do however get the airline lounge access mentioned above & they do get Priority pass (they have to speak to Amex and request it I believe).

    -Eric

  • holly holst

    I have an Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles card. Does my card qualify for the yearly $200 credit?

  • thepointsguy

    Nope

  • Economiler

    SWEET! So happy I stumbled upon this! I’ve been sitting with this targeted offer of 100k miles for this card after 10k spend if I was approved by November 30, but knew I would have to work to hit it and didn’t want to pay the $500 up front. (I know, it seems silly given the value of the points…). I have some work to do, but was just approved. Thanks so much!

  • Carl

    Like most folks, kind of ticked to hear that Admirals Clubs will be off limits now to Amex Platinum card holders. If I buy an Admirals Club membership on the Platinum card, can I use the $200 annual airline credit towards the balance? Thanks

  • osuwillis

    Can anyone advise if I purchase UNITED gift certificates from UNITED if these will qualify for the AMEX “$200 Airline Fee Credit”?? I am not aware that you can buy actual UNITED “gift cards” anywhere. In talking directly with AMEX, they gave me the impression that a UNITED gift certificate would show up as a “ticket purchase” and thus not qualify for the “$200 Airline Fee Credit”. Has anyone been successful in purchasing UNITED gift certificates and then getting it reimbursed by AMEX under the “$200 Airline Fee Credit”????

  • CatCampion

    I have the same card. I just had a conversation with an AmEx rep who assured me I qualified. He told me i could use my card to be granted access to SkyClubs, would be charged $29, then reimbursed. We shall see…

  • CatCampion

    Lies and more lies.

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