Can I use the Amex Platinum airline fee credit on a friend?

Jan 2, 2020

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Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express carry two of the highest annual fees of any publicly available credit cards, at $550 (see rates and fees) and $595 (see rates and fees) respectively. If you’re going to hold these cards and still come out ahead, you better have a plan to fully utilize their extensive list of benefits, including the up to $200 annual airline incidental fee credit offered by both cards.

Unlike Chase and Citi, Amex has made this valuable benefit harder to use by closing popular loopholes such as buying airline gift cards to trigger reimbursement. TPG reader Kristin wants to know if she can use this credit to pay for a friend’s incidental airline fees …

I generally struggle to use the $200 airline incidental fee credit on my Amex Business Platinum. If I were to log into my friend’s Delta SkyMiles account and pay for his baggage fees, would that trigger the reimbursement?

TPG READER KRISTIN

Before getting into Kristin’s specific question, let’s review how this credit works. This credit, which just reset for the new year, entitles cardholders with any version of the Platinum card (including the personal Amex Platinum, the Amex Business Platinum and the Amex Platinum for Schwab customers) to up to a $200 a year rebate for incidental airline fees. You can’t use this credit to directly purchase airfare, and Amex doesn’t have a clear list of which charges are eligible for reimbursement, only noting that the following are excluded:

“Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.”

Related: It’s a new year; here’s our guide to choosing an airline for your Amex Platinum $200 airline-fee credit

Kirstin is spot on that checked baggage fees are some of the most common charges that are eligible for reimbursement with the Amex Platinum airline fee credit. Now for the good news: It doesn’t matter whose name is on the ticket. Amex only cares that the charge is processed by Delta (which is why some purchases like inflight Wi-Fi that are processed by a third party don’t trigger the credit). This means you could use your credit to cover checked bag fees for a family member traveling with you, or you could gift them to a friend or colleague even if you aren’t traveling.

There’s only one thing to be aware of, and that’s the fact that Amex requires you to select a designated airline before you can use the credit. If Kirstin has already selected Delta then there won’t be a problem, but if she just opened her Platinum card recently then she’ll need to select Delta as her airline before she attempts to pay for her friends checked bags. If she’d selected a different airline for previous years that’s no problem, as Amex lets you change your selection one time a year during January.

Bottom line

The up to $200 annual airline fee credit is an important part of the math that makes the Amex Platinum worth its hefty annual fee. If you routinely struggle to use this credit you should stop and think whether this card is actually right for you long term, but if you find yourself with leftover credit at the end of the year don’t hesitate to gift it to a friend or family member. As long as they’re flying on the airline you’ve selected with Amex, you can pay for eligible incidental charges on their behalf and still get reimbursed.

Thanks for the question, Kristin, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

For the rates and fees of the American Express Platinum card, please click here.
For the rates and fees of the American Express Business Platinum card, please click here.

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