How to use the Amex Platinum $200 airline fee credit in 2022
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.
It’s no surprise that The Platinum Card® from American Express is packed with premium benefits. In normal times, one of the most generous perks of the premium card is the annual statement credit for up to $200 in airline incidental fees. When fully maximized, this perk can take out a decent chunk out of the sting of the card’s $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).
This credit operates on a calendar year basis, which means you have from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 to use the credit. Additionally, you usually need to select your airline for the year by Jan. 31, though anecdotally we’ve heard Amex has been somewhat flexible with this if you call or chat with a representative.
Usually, it’s pretty easy for a traveler to fully maximize an annual airline fee credit of $200 over 12 months, but of course, the last couple of years have been anything but ordinary. With so many cardholders traveling less than usual, maximizing this credit has been more challenging for many people than expected.
Now that we’re in the new year, you’ll want to be strategic about how you use this credit — so we’ll walk you through some typical rules and some timely use cases. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
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Choose the right airline
If you have an Amex Platinum, you can click here to select or change your airline choice each January — you’ll need to log in to access your Amex account. You can also access the airline selection screen by scrolling to your online account’s “Benefits” section. Either way, you’ll see that you can choose from the following airlines:
- Alaska Airlines.
- American Airlines.
- Delta Air Lines.
- Frontier Airlines.
- Hawaiian Airlines.
- JetBlue Airways.
- Spirit Airlines.
- Southwest Airlines.
- United Airlines.
Amex has been pretty lenient about permitting airline selection changes well beyond the usual Jan. 31 deadline for those who called or used the online chat feature to ask. There’s no guarantee that will work for you, but it’s worth trying if you find yourself flying a different airline you thought you would.
Generally speaking, you might assume that the airline you most frequently fly with is the one to choose. However, picking your primary airline automatically isn’t always the best choice since many fees are already waived if you have elite status or a cobranded credit card with that airline.
Instead, consider an airline with which you’re likely to incur at least $200 in fees each year.
For example, if you fly United most frequently and you hold elite status, but also fly American some during the year, you’ll potentially be better off choosing American for your airline fee credit. You could use that credit for things like seat assignments, extra-legroom seats, bag fees, onboard drinks or food. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Designating one of them as your airline of choice could be a smart strategy since they charge extra fees for amenities that come automatically with some other airlines and fares, like seat assignments, checked and carry-on bags, and onboard snacks and drinks. So maximizing the Amex Platinum airline fee credit should be really easy.
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 make these purchases separately from the airline ticket itself (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 in a typical year.
For example, you could select Spirit Airlines as your airline and then use the credit to purchase Big Front Seats or snacks and to check bags. Or, if you fly with your pet, based on the sky-high pet fees on most — but not all — airlines, you might use up your airline fee credit on just one or two flights with your pet.
If American Airlines is your selected airline, check out this post on which American Airlines expenses trigger the Amex airline fee credit. And here’s a real-world look at what triggers the fee credit across more airlines.
According to the terms, the Amex Platinum airline fee credit is not applicable for the following:
- 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 but that may not trigger the credit).
- 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 the 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. The terms say allow two to four weeks after each charge for the statement credit to post to your account (though in our experience, it is often faster). 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, most gift card or credit type options are no longer working as of July 2019, based on tests from TPG staffers and data points from TPG Lounge.
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 by TPG, the remaining airfare becomes an “additional collection” and triggers the reimbursement credit. Sometimes other small airline ticket purchases also trigger the credit, as have some purchases of smaller ($50-ish) amounts of future airline travel credit. We’ve also seen some United TravelBank additions and United award ticket taxes and fees payments trigger the credits, though the United TravelBank is currently not available to any customers as of very late in 2021.
However, those are off-label uses that could change at any time.
Other Amex cards with airline fee credits
The Amex Platinum isn’t the only Amex card that offers an annual airline fee credit (up to a certain amount). The following Amex cards also offer credits (enrollment required):
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (up to $250).
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (up to $200).
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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 Amex Travel (up to 1 million points back per calendar year).
Because of that, Business Platinum cardholders may want to select an airline for which they use points to purchase economy tickets for their annual airline credit, instead of one where they’ll incur fees that the credit can offset.
If you don’t already have the Business Platinum Card, with its $595 annual fee, or $695 if the application is received on or after 01/13/2022 (see rates and fees), now is an excellent time to apply. The card is currently offering 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
How to use the Amex airline fee credit if you aren’t flying
There are other ways to creatively use the Amex Platinum airline fee credit, even if you don’t have any concrete trips planned for 2022. Here are a few ideas:
- Pay for seat assignments on future flights.
- Purchase airline lounge day passes for future use. These are often valid for one year from purchase during normal times — and potentially longer in some cases during the pandemic.
- Allow an authorized user who is traveling again to put the fee credit to use on one of their flights.
- Join the Frontier Discount Den or Spirit Saver$ Club.
- Purchase Southwest EarlyBird boarding for future Southwest flights.
Enrollment is required for select benefits.
The $200 Amex airline fee credit is one of those use-or-lose benefits that is only worth what you make of it. Normally, it’s pretty easy to maximize this credit, but admittedly it’s been a more complex credit to maximize during the pandemic. Now that it’s 2022, pick your airline wisely to ensure that you’ll be able to use the full value of this credit this year.
Official application link: Amex Platinum with a 100,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $6,000 in the first six months of card membership.
Official application link: Amex Business Platinum with a 120,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months card membership.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Madison Blancaflor.
Featured image by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio for Getty Images.
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