Choosing Your Amex Platinum $200 Airline Fee Credit

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The American Express Platinum Card is jammed packed with premium benefits, which I’ve outlined before in this post. One of the newest and most generous benefits is the $200 annual airline fee credit, which if used properly, can take some of the sting out of the $450 annual fee.

Last month I wrote about maximizing this credit here, but since receiving an email from Amex earlier this week informing me it was time to designate the airline I wanted to receive the credit on for 2012, I thought I’d take another quick look at maximizing this credit. Just as a note, cardholders have from between January 1-31 each year to change their airline of choice (though many people have changed later in the year by asking nicely). You have each calendar year to spend the $200- regardless of when you got your car. So if you got it today and spent the $200, you’d get a brand new $200 on January 1, 2013. (Click here to select/change your airline choice).

When this benefit was launched last year, I didn’t think too much about it and I selected Delta as my reimbursement because I fly Delta the most. I did end up getting all $200 reimbursed through award ticket fees and other odds and ends, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend picking your main airline, because if you have elite status many fees are already free.

So my new strategy will be to designate an airline that allows reimbursement for gift cards such as American, Continental, United or Air Tran. Since I’m currently about to become an American Executive Platinum, AA makes the most sense for me. I’ll immediately buy four $50 gift cards and get my benefit and not worry about it again.

Officially gift cards are not included, but they seem to be getting refunded as long as they are $100 or less. Technically the approved items are:
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 officially 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

You’ll notice that last one belies what I said about using my credit for airline gift cards, but I still think it’s a viable options because there is a ton of anecdotal evidence from TPG readers and this Flyertalk thread about people being reimbursed for airline vouchers and gift cards depending on the amount charged and the way the charge comes out coded on the credit card statement. Mommy Points also wrote about her recent experience and it seems like she got Continental gift cards reimbursed.

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.

Happy reimbursing!

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