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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!

The Platinum Card® from American Express

While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations worldwide. Terms Apply.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status with your Platinum Card.®
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.