It’s a new year; here’s our guide to choosing an airline for your Amex Platinum $200 airline-fee credit
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The Platinum Card® from American Express is packed with premium benefits. One of the most generous perks is the annual credit for up to $200 in airline fees. When used properly, the perk can take some of the sting out of the card’s $550 annual fee (see rates and fees).
You must designate your airline of choice either online or over the phone soon after getting the Amex Platinum. You can change your selection once each year in January. If you don’t take any action, your selection will remain the same. You have a calendar year to spend the $200, regardless of when you got your card. So, it’s possible to get two $200 airline-fee credits within your first year of card membership.
Choosing the right airline
If you have an Amex Platinum, you can click here to select/change your airline choice — you’ll need to log in to access your Amex account. You can also access the airline selection screen by scrolling to the “Benefits” section of your online account. Either way, you’ll see that you can choose from the following airlines:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- Spirit Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
You might assume that the airline you most frequently fly with is the one to choose. Back when this benefit was launched, I didn’t think too much about it and selected Delta as my airline because, at the time, I flew Delta the most. Although I did end up getting a $200 reimbursement for miscellaneous fees, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend picking your primary airline, since many fees are waived if you have elite status.
Instead, consider an airline with which you’re likely to incur at least $200 in fees each year. For example, if you fly Delta most often and you hold elite status but also fly United frequently throughout the year, you’ll probably be better off choosing United for your airline-fee credit.
Don’t forget about the low-cost carriers either. You can designate ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier (where Kids Fly Free) or Spirit as your selected airline and that’s not a bad strategy if you fly those carriers. With all of the fees charged by these airlines, using the Amex Platinum credit should be really easy. Seat-assignment fees, checked and carry-on bag fees, onboard snacks and drinks and more could use up the annual credit in a hurry.
What’s covered by the airline-fee credit
Generally, the following incidental fees will be reimbursed by using the Amex Platinum credit, as long as you purchase them separately from the airline ticket (so the purchase will show up as a different transaction):
- 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
- Inflight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, etc.)
- Inflight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet)
As you can imagine, it’s not difficult for many travelers to use the airline-fee credit. Family travelers might select Spirit and then use the credit to purchase Big Front Seats and snacks and to check bags. Or, if your plans frequently change, choose an airline where you incur significant change fees each year. Or, based on the sky-high pet fees on most — but not all — airlines, you may use up your airline-fee credit on just one or two flights with your pet.
If AA is your selected airline, check out this post on which American Airlines expenses trigger the Amex airline-fee credit.
The Amex Platinum airline-fee credit is not applicable for the following fees:
- Fees charged to other card accounts (besides authorized user accounts)
- Charges that aren’t separate from airline ticket payments (for example, you may pay to select seats when purchasing a ticket)
- Fees not charged by the cardmember’s airline of choice (for example, wireless internet and fees incurred with airline alliance partners)
- Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline
- Airline tickets
- Mileage points purchases
- Mileage points transfer fees
- Gift cards
- Duty-free purchases
- Award tickets
The airline must submit the charge under the appropriate merchant code and required service or product identifier for the charge to be recognized as an incidental air travel fee. Allow two to four weeks after each charge for the statement credit to post to your account. But if the credit hasn’t posted after four weeks, you can call the number on the back of the card to get the credit manually approved for valid charges.
In the past, there were ways to get gift cards for some airlines reimbursed through the airline-fee credit. However, all gift card options are no longer working as of July 2019, based on tests from TPG staffers and data points from the TPG Lounge.
- Southwest e-gift cards generally worked until late June 2019, but we have not seen any cases of Southwest gift card purchases triggering the credit since late June 2019.
- American Airlines gift cards stopped working on Feb. 8 or 9, 2019
- Alaska Airlines gift cards do not count, but inexpensive flights under roughly $100 do sometimes count.
- The United Travel Gift Registry worked when it existed, but was temporarily taken offline in 2017 and permanently discontinued in April 2019. With United, look to Economy Plus seat fees on future flights, United Club day passes and the like.
- In the past, smaller Delta gift card purchases of around $50 counted when made from the desktop site and not the mobile site, but in late June 2019, all Delta gift cards seemed to stop counting toward the credit.
- JetBlue does not sell gift cards, although inexpensive flights around $100 or less do sometimes trigger the credit.
- Hawaiian Airlines gift cards do not count, so stick with items such as seat upgrades.
One other option that does appear to be working is to pay for a portion of a Delta ticket with a gift card, and then charge the remainder to your Amex Platinum. As reported and confirmed personally by TPG’s Richard Kerr, the remaining airfare becomes an “additional collection” and triggers the reimbursement credit.
Other Amex cards with airline-fee credits
The Amex Platinum isn’t the only Amex card that offers an airline-fee credit (up to a certain amount). The following Amex cards also offer credits:
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (up to $250)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (up to $200)
- American Express® Gold Card (up to $100)
The details of the airline-fee credit on these cards and the Amex Platinum are similar. But, there’s one important wrinkle for the Business Platinum Card. Business Platinum cardholders receive a 35% rebate on any points redeemed for business- or first-class travel on qualifying airlines when booked through amextravel.com.
So Business Platinum cardholders may want to select an airline for which they use points to purchase economy tickets for their annual airline credit, as opposed to one where they’ll definitely incur fees that can be offset by the credit.
If you don’t already have the Business Platinum Card, now is an excellent time to apply. The card is currently offering 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Additional reporting by Summer Hull and Madison Blancaflor.
For rates & fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
- Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 4/1/2020.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free and Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights.
- New! Get ready for your next trip - spend $10,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year and receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit to get you there sooner.
- Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
- Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees