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Update 12/21/16: Unfortunately Amex is no longer issuing credit for MileagePlus X purchases.
Update 11/2/16: It’s back!
Update 11/1/16: Amazon is no longer listed as a merchant in the MileagePlusX app, so unfortunately it’s not currently possible to redeem Amex travel credits for Amazon gift cards.
Several top premium travel-rewards cards include annual airline fee credits, giving you a yearly allowance that covers incidentals with the airline of your choice, such as lounge memberships, baggage fees and in-flight meals. The two most popular cards that offer these credits are The Platinum Card from American Express ($200 each year) and Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express ($100 each year). There have been reports of these credits covering airline gift cards as well, which can be used to purchase tickets, but we’ve discovered an even more interesting use for Amex’s credits, specifically.
Using the MileagePlus X app (which launched last year on Android and iOS), you can purchase Amazon gift cards that can be redeemed instantly for anything sold on Amazon.com. Why does that work? Well, the app currently categorizes Amazon gift card purchases as a United “special service ticket,” including a ticket number. In other words, United processes the transaction directly, rather than Amazon, and Amex flags it as a reimbursable expense. Note that you’ll need to select United as your airline in order to receive a credit.
I tried this out by purchasing a $5 gift card on January 2. Two days later, an identical airline fee reimbursement posted to my Amex account, as you can see above.
The app is pretty straightforward to use. You can earn anywhere from 2 to 5 bonus miles per dollar on purchases you make through the app, plus a 25% bonus if you have a United co-brand credit card, such as the United MileagePlus Explorer Card (though you can pay with any card you’d like). Because MileagePlus X transactions are categorized as “Travel – Airline” by Amex, you may even receive category bonuses, such as the 3 points per dollar you can earn on airfare purchases with the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card (this has yet to be confirmed).
I’ll be sharing more about my MileagePlus X app experience soon, along with instructions for how to use it yourself, but I wanted to share this exciting development ASAP, just in case you’re currently planning out your airline fee credits.
Have you discovered other interesting uses for credit card airline fee credits?
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- 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 around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees