Do Award Ticket Fees Trigger the Amex Platinum Airline Credit?

Jul 23, 2019

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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 is one of the most valuable travel rewards credit cards, but it requires some effort to maximize it. The card comes with a $550 annual fee (see Rates & Fees) that’s largely offset through a series of annual statement credits for Uber, incidental airline fees and Saks Fifth Avenue purchases. TPG reader Maria wants to know how the credit applies to award tickets …

Does anyone know if the mileage redeposit fee for a cancelled award ticket triggers the Platinum airline credit?

TPG READER MARIA

Unlike the $300 annual travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve — which is automatically applied to any purchase that meets Chase’s broad definition of travel — the $200 airline credit on the Platinum card is much more restrictive. Most importantly, it can’t be used directly for airfare; it’s only meant to cover incidental airline fees. Interestingly enough, Amex isn’t especially clear on what charges do count for this credit, instead listing the following exclusions in the fine print of the application for the Platinum card:

“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.”

While award tickets are not considered incidental fees, there are data points where the taxes and fees did trigger the credit, like this one for two JetBlue award tickets purchased at the same time as a normal, revenue ticket:

Amex doesn’t directly address the issue of ancillary fees associated with award tickets, like the change or cancellation fees Maria is asking about. Thankfully a number of readers in the TPG Lounge reported that award cancellation fees had successfully triggered their Platinum credits.

The big issue here is that Amex relies on an automated system to apply these credits, which means you’ll only receive the credit if the purchase is coded in a specific way. This coding can change from time to time as airlines update their billing processes, which is why in the last few years we’ve seen certain airline gift cards that used to trigger the credit suddenly stop working. Gift cards are explicitly excluded, so that was always a bit of a loophole, but Amex is much less clear about the fees associated with award tickets — as can be seen from the above example of a purchase triggering the credit that’s explicitly on the list of exclusions.

If Maria pays the cancellation fee on her Platinum card and it doesn’t result in a credit after a few weeks, I would strongly recommend chatting with an Amex agent or calling in and asking if they can manually apply the credit. It’s a long shot, but it’s always worth trying.

Bottom Line

It can be tricky to determine what actually counts toward the airline credit on the Amex Platinum card. While Amex itself is vague and even inconsistent about how it treats award tickets, a number of TPG readers have confirmed that they’ve been reimbursed for charging award cancellation fees to their Platinum cards. Just make sure you’ve selected your preferred airline with Amex first; otherwise, an award ticket cancellation fee definitely won’t trigger the credit.

Thanks for the question, Maria, 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 rates & fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 75,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,500

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber savings annually (only for use in the U.S.)  (Enrollment required for select benefits)

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary 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 through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • 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.
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