I spent $300 extra on Global Entry — reader mistake story

Feb 17, 2020

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Tanya, who used the wrong card to pay for her family’s Global Entry applications:

When I signed up for The Platinum Card® from American Express last year, I added my husband and two teenage sons as authorized users, since the $175 fee is the same for up to three additional cardholders (see rates & fees). One of the card’s benefits is [an up to] $100 statement credit for Global Entry, which extends to each authorized user on the account. I figured that I’d more than cover the cost of adding them by getting them all lounge access and Global Entry.

I signed each of us up for Global Entry in one sitting, and used my Amex Platinum card to pay the fees. One day later, the reimbursement from Amex posted, but only for one of the $100 fees. I called Amex, and they explained that even though all the cards are under the same main account, each individual card gets one Global Entry reimbursement; I should have used each card to register each person in my family. Amex could not reverse the charge, and the Global Entry website clearly explains that there are no refunds of any kind.

So I lost out on $300 in benefits by not understanding they are tied to each individual card rather than the main account. Hopefully I will not make the same mistake with other benefits in the future.

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Amex Platinum tops the list of most valuable cards for authorized users. On top of Global Entry credits and lounge access, additional Platinum cardholders receive Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, elite status with several car rental companies, discounts and benefits through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, an individual list of Amex Offers and more. That’s an exceptional deal for what boils down to under $60 per person (if you add exactly three authorized users).

Additional cardholders don’t get the full slate of benefits, however, and Tanya may have been tripped up by the disparity in how Amex processes benefits that involve statement credits. Both the up to $200 annual airline fee credit and the up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit are issued exclusively to the primary cardholder, but while authorized users don’t receive their own credits, their qualifying purchases do trigger the credit and draw on the total allotment. In contrast, the Global Entry application fee credit is tied to each individual card, and can only be redeemed once every four years.

Tanya won’t be able to get back the extra $300 she paid, but her husband and sons can still put their benefits to use. The application fee credit is not limited to the cardholder, so Tanya could use those three remaining credits to help other friends and family apply at no cost. At least that way the benefits won’t go to waste.

Related: 13 things you should know about Global Entry before your next trip

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Tanya a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

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