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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?