Reader Question: How to use the $100/$200 American Express Airline Credit (U.S. Based Gold/Platinum Charge Cards)

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Last week we received a reader question inquiring about the use of the well advertised American Express (U.S.) Airline Credit that comes with Gold and Platinum Charge Cards.

Since I haven’t used one of mine yet I decided to run an experiment so that our readers have an indicator of how it worked out at least in this instance.

American Express offers this Airline Fee Credit in the form of a reimbursement after transactions are charged to the eligible Charge Card card account.

Our reader asked:

Hi,

I’m currently holding the Amex Platinum Card which recently was upgraded to a metal card but now comes with a steep $550 membership fee. It’s only worth it to me if I use the airline credit of $200 they advertise but how do I do that? I never incur extra fees because I’m a 1K member with United.

Thanks!

Indeed the official language of the benefit description says that the credit can be used for fees of extra services only, not for tickets of flight purchase related activities.

You can access the description of the Airline Credit in your online account under ‘benefits’ (see here).

Based on the description of the Airline Credit benefit the following charges will be reimbursed up to $100 for the Gold Card and $200 for the Platinum Card:

Receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees, such as checked bags, in-flight refreshments, flight-change fees, airport lounge day-passes and more, are charged by the airline you selected to your Premier Rewards Gold Card Account.

Here are the official exclusions:

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.

Now as we all know that rules aren’t necessarily followed 100% especially when it’s an automated process. I’ve had success across the credit card board with purchases of gift cards, upgrades and even small ticket purchases over the years and my colleagues report the same.

The reader inquired about United Airlines which doesn’t sell Gift Cards anymore but they do have a Gift Registry (see here) for weddings, birthdays and all sorts of occasions. Since I’m about to purchase a United ticket within Asia soon I decided why no go for it and opened such a registry and made a $100 contribution to my own Travel Bank which is exactly the amount my American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has available for Airline Credit.

The purchase was done quickly and reflected in my Travel Bank:

And as I expected (hoped) the reimbursement from American Express didn’t take long either:

My colleague who has the Platinum Card reported success with purchasing American Airlines gift cards as well. Keep in mind that this can always change so don’t make purchases that you won’t end up using anyway just to try and get your Amex airline credit.

Conclusion

I think in the end Amex really doesn’t care what they reimburse but they just don’t want to advertise it as a flat out cashback for a regular purchase but rather as a benefit you can use constantly.

The useful part of this benefit is that you’re able to claim it based on the calendar year, so one reimbursement before DEC 31st and one after JAN 1st. Two of these credits p.a. can already compensate your entire membership fee, especially if you plan to cancel the card after 1/2 years.

I recently decided to apply for the Premier Rewards Gold Card because it came with no membership fee, 50,000 Membership Rewards Points (which I transferred 1:1 to Singapore Airlines) and a very low minimum spend requirement (only $1,000) in order to get the points.

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