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Choosing Your Amex Platinum $200 Airline Fee Credit

by on January 12, 2012 · 66 comments

in American Express, Credit Cards

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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!

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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  • Dave

    Your list says change fees are covered but award ticket fees are not. I’m about to cancel or change an award ticket, so are change fees on award tickets covered?

  • TakeTheseFeesAnd…CAM

    Meeting my boyfriend in Manhattan this weekend. We are both travelling on Award Tickets– His seat is on Delta from Des Moines and I am on USAIRWAYS from Phoenix.

    I was charged a $10 fee by Delta for his Award Ticket. 2 days later AMEX PLATINUM reimbursed me the entire fee.

    Last year AMEX paid me back for a short roundtrip flight to LAX from PHX–about $160. On top of extra baggage fees, food & drinks, etc., the reimbursements totaled more than $260 last year!!

    Most of the charges were made on a shared trip to Tokyo in November. I upgraded our seats to PREMIUM ECONOMY. As a SILVER ELITE on Delta I was charged $90 for each upgrade ($180 total)– which I put on my WELLS FARGO VISA credit card issued by my Bank. AMEX reimbursed me $90 for one of the upgrades!

    Make that over $350 DOLLARS AMEX repaid me in 2011 for Airlines fees!!

  • Anonymous

    Technically no, but sometimes yes. If that makes any sense

  • Sil

    Which one would allow you to use the GC for paying awards booking fees or better yet, to claim awards booking fee with?

  • TakeTheseFeesAnd…CAM

    Sorry…I made amistake in my prior comment. The upgrade charged to my WELLS FARGO BANK CARD was reimbursed by DELTA– not AMEX.

    Thanks again TPG!

  • Pkerr

    How do you go about getting your reimbursement?

  • http://infamousdx.com infamousdx

    It’s automatic usually. The credit will appear on your statement a few days after. If not, a Secure Message should fix that issue right away.

  • Anonymous
  • The Deal Mommy

    I actually had a bunch of tickets reimbursed last year with Delta as they were under $100. YMMV, but they refunded any purchase under three digits for me.

  • Ralph

    So are paid upgrades to United E+ reimbursed? Not quite clear from the list.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jefftcarroll Jeff Carroll

    Are you sure that American allows reimbursement for gift cards? I just contacted them this week about that very matter for a Citi AMEX card. After being bounced between Citi and American, American finally gave me the answer that they do NOT allow the AMEX credit for gift cards, only for tickets.

  • http://necessaryindulgences.com/ NecessaryIndulgences

    Jeff – this is a benefit of the Platinum AMEX charge card, not the Citi AMEX credit card. If you read through the FT thread highlighted in this post, you’ll see that most people have successfully been reimbursed for AA gift cards ($50 seems to be the magic value) when charging them to the Platinum AMEX charge card.

  • Scott Bernard

    Just had four $50 gift cards reimbursed… as in yesterday. So yeah, I’m sure. Made them as four separate purchases though, which is kind of annoying. Do a search for the “virtual” USO version because they make a donation for each gift card purchased!

  • Clay

    Just changed 2 award tickets to Barcelona on Delta. I did it on 12/31, Thanks TPG for the reminder.. Of the 149.50, 117.8o was reimbursed to my Platinum Amex Card on 1/2/12. None of the fee was reimbursed for my wife’s ticket.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jefftcarroll Jeff Carroll

    Thank you. Very good to know.

  • Mark Friedman

    Add the end of 2011 I had some of the money left, I was able to buy a gift card on US Airways, so you can add them to the list of airlines that will allow you to do this. I got a $50 card and it came in two days via FedEx, BUT they did charge me a shipping fee

  • Joediver

    Bought 4 $100 CO gift certificates online (no fees as they are ecertificates) using my Personal and business platinum cards. I have applied 1 to each of my 2 flights booked this month and I had no troubles. So as far as Airline Tickets being on the N/A list it’s not an issue. The certificates say right on them that they are to be used only for the purchase of tickets.

  • Adam

    I just wanted to chime in that I purchased a $200 CO gift certificate in Dec and had it reimbursed with no issues. I plan to do this again this month now that the year has ended.

    With that my platinum card will have gotten me $400 in CO gift certs and 100k MR points, transferred to 150k DL (2 separate accounts) miles with 25k MQMs for each account. This along with all the other benefits the card already has. Holy smokes, thanks TPG!

  • Jtgray

    Just to add to the data, I wa reimbursed today for a united economy plus upgrade on a one way from sfo to syd. Cost was $159. I honestly did not even expect to be reimbursed.

  • EB

    Does anyone out there know if buying JETBLUE gift cards would be reimbursed? If so, what denominations would be best to buy? How does the ‘charge’ appear on the statement?

  • Raj B

    Can the additional card members on my Platinum account choose different airlines, or is there only one airline designation on the Platinum account each year? I know the $200 is shared.

  • Anonymous

    One designation per account

  • David C

    For what it’s worth, I chose AA as my airline last year and AMEX credited me back the fees associated with booking two award tickets with AA last year – one was only $10 on AA metal, though the other was over $100 in fees for an award ticket on CX that I booked through AA. YMMV.

  • Anonymous

    Seat selection fees are explicitly allowed, E+ is not really an upgrade but a seat selection, the way I see it.

  • Anonymous

    So the way I see it, because you are still in Economy class, it’s not an upgrade, but rather a seat selection fee, which puts it firmly in the last category on the ALLOWED list. I’ve had all my E+ reimbursed but they were less than $100. There are plenty of reports of E+ >$100 being reimbursed too.

  • Dave

    On continental, you can only redeem 1 gift card per flight so everyone who is buying 4- $50 gift cards, realize this is only saving you $50 per ticket.

    From Continental T&C “Only one Gift Certificate may be used per transaction for the purchase of airline tickets.”

  • arglebargle

    Incidentally, if anyone’s interested in using the reimbursement for Southwest, I did that at the tail end of 2011. There isn’t much OTHER THAN gift certificates to use the $200 on for Southwest, AFAIK.

    I bought 3 GCs–1 @ $100, and 2 @ $50. You are allowed to use up to FOUR GC when purchasing a SW ticket–presumably you could even use eight, if you purchased your roundtrip as two one-ways.

  • John

    Received the card in Nov. Picked CO as my airline. Bought 4- $50 ecertificates online. It was not auto reimbursed and came through coded as ‘special service ticket’. Sent a secure msg to Platinum rep and was told ‘no can do’ per the T&C’s. I’m now gun shy to try again. Any other way to get these reimbursed? Plus now they are trying to deny my bonus MR pts for signup even though I gave them my print screen. Disappointing start to Platinum to say the least!!!!

  • Glen

    As well as American Airlines, gift cards/certificates on Alaska Airlines also get reimbursed.

  • Joediver

    Like most other issues we points and miles “collectors” deal with……If you don’t like the answer you get from one CSR call again and talk to a different one.

  • Jameso

    are you saying AA cards are redeemable on AS metal, or just pointing out that AS gets reimbursed as well?

  • http://profiles.google.com/kumar.venkateswar Kumar Venkateswar

    You can also use it for purchased miles, though that’s probably not the ideal use for it.

  • swat16

    Does anyone know how to buy United gift cards WITHOUT paying the outrageous shipping charge?

  • Emailbrianjohns

    FYI, Delta gift certs weren’t reimbursed at $50 each – had to buy them at the airport even. Works much better with AA.

  • jlsmsp

    I am relatively new to this whole credit card points thing but it appears to me that the American Express Platinum is now doing a 50,000 bonus for signing up. Am I wrong??

    https://www304.americanexpress.com/personal-card-application/platinum-charge-card/40190-57-0-2C03E565B03A5B3DBF5FB69B6D4A304EF630B68437904BAA-10521?csi=platinum-charge-card/40190-57-0-2C03E565B03A5B3DBF5FB69B6D4A304EF630B68437904BAA-10521

  • SitInFirst.com

    I can confirm that the 4x$50 approach still works in 2012 on AA. I’ve got the GCs…and the credit has posted.

  • Bluejet

    i would like to know this as well

  • BLUEJET

    DOES ANYBODY KNOW ABOUT WHETHER JETBLUE CARDS GET REIMBURSED AS THEY HAVE NO EXPIRY!?! somebody please try this asap

  • ihaveADHD

    has anybody gotten reimbursed for US airways gift cards???

  • point guard

    no, you are right .. TPG probably just gets a better kickback when people are referred to the 25K point promotion .. It looks like 50K is the best out there right now .. missed the 100K promotion by a few months

  • Anon

    Here is my math. Got card, ($450). In the first year: $200 airline credit, AA; $100 credit for Trusted Traveller; $500 MR + $250 bonus transfer to Delta + Silver Medallion: cashed out in approx. $700 Amex GC; another $200 airline credit. Cancel card w/ next fee due date.

    Seems I just netted me $850, most of that in cold-hard cash for one year of membership.

    P.S.: Cashing out Delta Skypesos is not possible any longer since Delta and/or Amex up’ed the ante.

  • Anon

    I can confirm that $100′s also work on AA.
    Keep in mind that you can only use 8 GCs per booking, hence the importance of maximizing the GC value.

  • Anon

    Delta sucks. And I am in Atlanta.

    Delta and Amex Platinum don’t go together very well. GCs are not reimbursed!!

  • Anonymous

    You can’t really be upset since you aren’t supposed to be reimbursed for Gcs anyway

  • Anon

    Works on AA.

    I guess I am more upset about having to travel to the airport to physically purchase a GC, finding out that it is not reimbursable. And then have to travel to the airport again to get a refund.

    Does that make Delta sound like an Internet-enabled company?

  • Maury

    I purchased a $200 AA giftcard three days ago and today I was reimburse the total amount. Glory to God!!!

  • Dave

    I tried applying for the 50K points, but after being approved and only received 25K bonus points I called to see if this could be changed, citing the offer I applied for. I received a letter 1 week later stating I was never targeted for the 50K offer, thus not eligible to receive. Just be weary. This was as of December 2011 and the final letter alerting me January 10, 2012.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4TO3W6PNP3LMR7LBVUS2Y2RFKA sbjnyc

    Amex has generally credited taxes on award travel (DL) within a day. Recently booked an international award (O) with ~$150 in taxes which were credited immediately.

  • Naotkxx

    I have 400 AA gift card and wonder where the best place I can sell for them.

  • Guest

    Hey that link is dead if you apply through it you might not recive all your miles try this one I did it 2 weeks ago and the 50,000 miles are already pending in my account
    https://www304.americanexpress.com/personal-card-application/platinum-charge-card/20921-343-0-2C03E565B03A5B3DAB13D29976C43096F630B68437904BAA-10679?csi=platinum-charge-card/20921-343-0-2C03E565B03A5B3DAB13D29976C43096F630B68437904BAA-10679

  • AP

    Did you just buy a single $200 card? I bought 4×50 (single transaction).. nothing so far.

  • ilimas

    Purchased a $200 GC online at Continental.com on 1/26/12 and received my $200 credit from AMEX Platinum on 1/28/12. AMEX rocks and so do you, TPG!

    fyi: important to purchase 1 $200 GC because only 1 GC can be used per ticket transaction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/divad78 David M Juiliano

    Did you ever get the refund?

  • AP

    Nope

  • http://www.facebook.com/divad78 David M Juiliano

    None here after two weeks. :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/divad78 David M Juiliano

    What do you mean by Secure Message?

  • jcb

    were the southwest gift cards reimbursed?

  • Michael

    when exactly do you have to pay the 450 annual fee after purchasing the amex platinum card?

  • TPG Intern Ryan

    The fee will be charged once the first statement closes.

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  • Ben Toubia

    did you buy the GC online or at the airport..getting ready to make my purchase and want to know where would be the wisest place to purchase them from…

  • 12345

    Although ticket upgrades are not technically approved for reimbursement, I changed my seat from Economy to Economy plus and was reimbursed the full amount.

  • Cory

    Just signed up for the Platinum Card, and bought 4-$50 AA gift cards. Here’s to hoping they get reimbursed :)
    Signed,
    The Poor College Student

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  • Ryan

    Anyone tried recently? Getting gift cards, and being reimbursed?

  • skwok

    Thanks for the link! Just picked AA for my new Platinum Card through upgrade from Gold. 25k MR points, 1st purchase.

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