Amex Platinum and PRG Airline Fee Reimbursements. What still works?

US Credit Card Guide recently reported from an Amex source that Amex has a new “Rewards Abuse Team” that is cracking down on some tricks people have used to get airline fee reimbursements and to meet minimum spend requirements.  For the former, they reportedly said that the MileagePlus X App would no longer work for earning airline fee reimbursements, but airline gift cards would continue to work.  Due to the shifting sands here, I decided that it would make sense for me to keep track of what works and what doesn’t here on this blog.

American Express Platinum cards offer up to $200 per year in airline fee reimbursements.  These reimbursements can go a long way towards easing the sting of the $550 annual fee charged by personal Amex Platinum and $450 annual fee charged by Business Platinum cards.  Similarly, the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card offers up to $100 per year in airline fee reimbursements to help offset that card’s $195 annual fee.

amex-platinum-200-fee-reimbursement

Amex airline fee credits are offered by calendar year.  For example, Platinum cardholders can get up to $200 in fee credits for charges made up until December of this year, and $200 more for charges made next calendar year.  But, time is ticking away for those who haven’t yet earned their credits.  As long as there are easy ways to get those credits, it’s like throwing away money to not grab them.

Step 1 is to make sure that you’ve selected a preferred airline, here: americanexpress.com/airlinechoice.  You can change this selection once per year in January (if you don’t change it, your previous selection remains in place).

Step 2 is to make qualifying purchases with your airline of choice in order to get reimbursed.  If you don’t have travel to pay for, then you might as well at least buy gift card credit, right?

What purchases count… officially?

American Express’ terms for the Airline Fee Credit state the following rules:

  • Incidental air travel fees must be separate charges from airline ticket charges.
    [In other words, if an otherwise qualifying fee is bundled with airfare, it won’t be reimbursed]
  • Fees not charged by the Card Member’s airline of choice (e.g. wireless internet and fees incurred with airline alliance partners) do not qualify for statement credits.
    [For example, If you picked American Airlines as your airline of choice and you buy something on board a flight marketed by AA, but flown by British Airways, it won’t be reimbursed]
  • Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline are not eligible for statement credits.
    [You must pick your preferred airline before making reimbursable purchases]
  • 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.
    [Is anything left?]

Interestingly, as shown above, the terms explicitly state a number of things that do not count, but they’re silent on what does count.

What purchases count… unofficially?

In general, almost any charge other than an airline ticket made by your chosen airline will count in practice. This sometimes includes purchases that the Amex terms say won’t work: both gift card purchases and award ticket fees are often known to work.

In some cases, though, there seem to be maximum dollar limits.  For example, a while ago I tested many different scenarios of charging Delta award ticket fees to my Platinum card.  I found that I was reimbursed for all Delta award booking fees except for one that was slightly over $250.  A $200.90 fee worked, but a $258 fee did not.

Similarly, there appear to be limits to the size of gift cards purchased from airlines in order to get the credit.  Here is a breakdown of the major US airlines and what works and what doesn’t…

Alaska Airlines

The following purchases are known to trigger fee reimbursements:

American Airlines

The following purchases are known to trigger fee reimbursements:

Delta

The following purchases are known to trigger fee reimbursements:

Frontier

Hawaiian

The following purchases are known to trigger fee reimbursements:

Southwest

The following purchases are known to trigger fee reimbursements:

Spirit

United

The following purchases are known to trigger fee reimbursements:

With United, the following options NO LONGER WORK:

Reader Input

I’d like to fill out this page with more info.  If you have experience earning credits on purchases not listed above, or if you have experience not getting credit, please comment below.  I’m especially interested in airlines not yet listed above, such as Alaska and Southwest, but data about all airlines is welcome.

If you’re reporting a negative finding, please wait at least two weeks after purchase before declaring that the purchase didn’t work.  Also, of course, make sure 1) that you pre-selected that airline with Amex; and 2) that you haven’t already used up all of your reimbursement credits for the year.

If you report gift card purchases please let us know if they were physical gift cards or e-gift cards.

Thanks in advance!

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. I got in on the Thanksgiving 100k point personal Platinum card. I chose Delta and then bought a physical $95 gift card. It was NOT reimbursed. I then bought a $50 physical gift card and it was reimbursed. Three additional separate physical $50 gift cards were reimbursed. Thus, don’t go higher than $50 for Delta gift cards.

  2. Great post! One of my favorite airlines to choose is Spirit, since a larger portion of their costs are fees. This year I bought a cheap fare and bags on my Barclays Arrivals card then separately put the Big Front Seat upgrade on my PRG. And brought the card inflight to buy overpriced snacks for free

  3. Following with Mark’s logic here, I bought a single $200 Southwest GC last year and it worked. I actually have some of these credits to use this year and have SW as my airline. Your article reminded me to buy my GCs — is there any evidence that SW GCs stopped working?

    Btw, thanks for the mention of tickets under $100. I had no idea that could trigger it.

  4. I bought 3x $50 Delta egift cards last week in one $150 transaction on delta.com using my Amex Plat. Each egift card posted as a separate $50 transaction and the credit for each was applied the next day.

  5. Last year, I flew Hawaiian to Sydney in December and back to NYC in January. I used the 2015 reimbursement for extra legroom seats for my wife and me on the first leg and the 2016 reimbursement on the return leg. Each were paid with one $250 or so transaction and both worked.

  6. [For example, If you picked American Airlines as your airline of choice and you buy something on board a flight marketed by AA, but flown by British Airways, it won’t be reimbursed]
    This totally confuses me….Let’s say I use BA Avios points to book an domestic US flight flown by AA – and I want to pay for my baggage fees – which airline should I choose – BA or AA?

  7. As you would expect… Southwest taxes/fees for award flights (including higher taxes to Mexico) + $15 Early Bird Check-in worked.

    We have a family of 8 flying to Mexico for Christmas. Prices dropped twice (including the tax portion of the fare) since we first booked our Southwest flights. Southwest refunded miles, plus some taxes and fees (though not all). The tax/fee refund didn’t claw back the original reimbursement from Amex. The updated cheaper tax got reimbursed by Amex, too.

  8. Well, I was using the MPX the last two years and this one. Now to figure out my new angle. I sure liked that one though! At least it is not quite time to re-selet airline for the year!

  9. The Amex RAT team, which reads your blog every day, thanks you for making our jobs easier. Please keep posting these details so we can apply our efforts quickly and efficiently.

    – Amex RAT member JT

    • Amex RAT member JT

      Why doesn’t AMEX just stop this “cat & mouse” game regarding airline credits? Chase Sapphire Reserve card has $300 travel credit that you can use on ALL airlines, hotels, trains, rental car without any of these stupid restrictions AMEX imposes. If AMEX did THAT then your job would be REALLY easy and your customers would be a lot happier!

      Care to comment?

  10. United: gift registry contribution of $25 was not reimbursed, neither was a $99 upgrade fee. However $59 United Club passes and $125 pet fee were reimbursed.

    • Did you buy the pass in airport? Since I have $100 left after my MPX deals, I was thinking I’d do two passes rather than lose the money. Wonder if it would work? I assume they would be good for a year if flying United?

      • No I bought them on the United App. They’re digital and I believe you can hold onto them for a year or so and redeem them whenever you want. If you have some credit to use before the end of the calendar year this is a good idea.

  11. 2 Alaska $100 gift certificates ordered separate but back to back on 1 Nov. Reimbursement 4 Nov.
    Global entry 11Nov. Reimbursement 14 Nov. All on Business Platinum card.

  12. United MPX:
    I can confirm United MileagePlus X App purchase reimbursements seem to be dead.
    Worked once in November, doesn’t look like it’s working in December.
    Purchased $50 Amazon gift card via MPX using Amex Platinum on 11/21, reimbursed on 11/23.
    Purchased another $50 gift card on 11/25, not reimbursed and more than 2 weeks now.
    Purchased another $100 gift card on 12/3, also not reimbursed.
    Not a tragedy since I’ll use the gift cards and got a few miles for doing so, but looks like I’ll be trying the gift registry method.

  13. I bought $100 Amazon gift cards through the mileage X app and initially didn’t get the credit after chatting online with a representative they said I should contact them after 14 days and they issued the credit manually

  14. I purchased 4 x $50.00 e-gift cards from Delta with my Platinum card and received my credit immediately. However, there is one point I have never seen mentioned. I am enrolled in the Amex Travel Delay Insurance Program, which automatically charges $9.95 each time I purchased airline tickets. I was charged this $9.95 fee for each of my 4 gift cards, basically cutting $40 off of my reimbursement. After several rather lengthy conversations with Amex customer support, I have been unable to get these charges reversed.

  15. with a closing date of 12/9/16 – I am being charged the $450 annual membership fee Payment due 1-3-17. Can I close the account on 1/3/2017 but still charge the $200 per year in airline fee reimbursements on 1/1/2017 and get reimbursed and then close the account two days later?

  16. Bag fees on AA are reimbursed on both Amex and Citi Prestige. I’ve been using my credit every year for four years this way (I pay huge baggage fees for my business).

  17. “Step 1 is to make sure that you’ve selected a preferred airline, here: americanexpress.com/airlinechoice. You can change this selection once per year in January (if you don’t change it, your previous selection remains in place)”

    So If I apply now and select Southwest as destinated airline (in order to get the gift card online), I can change to United in January. Is that correct? Thanks

  18. I just applied for the Platinum Business card and the PRG Card, and was approved for both!

    If I make the purchases in 2016 (Let’s say December 29th or 30th) and they don’t get reimbursed until January 1st or 2nd, does that count towards the 2017 or 2016 credit?

    Kind regards,

  19. Bought an $85 SW on December 28th and credited on the 30th. The rest yet to be bought/posted yet. Doing today, maybe in two purchases.

  20. I bought two SW $100 E-Gift Cards (separately) on December 28th and have not been credited yet. I noticed that most people who posted data points on SW E-Gift Cards were credited within 2 days.

    I noticed that on my statement they show up as:

    Flight Details
    Ticket Number: (I removed the number)
    Document Type: SPD/AIR FREIGHT

    Have you all have similar experiences? Is there a reason to be concerned or should I wait it out longer?

    Kind regards,

    • can you specify how you paid for the baggage fees? ‘cuz Spirit gives you 3 options, at time of booking, at check-in (online or at counter -same price) and at gate.
      TIA

  21. Bought 1x $100 Southwest eGC on 1/1/17. As of today, no reimbursement. I switched my preferred airline to SW on 1/1 before purchasing the eGC.

  22. One more DP, same Amex PRG, this time for 2017 credit. Bought an AA e gift card:

    JAN6
    AA MISC SALE/ TAX/ FEE/EX BAG 4510742 – DALLAS, TX
    $100.00

    JAN8
    AMEX Airline Fee Reimbursement
    -$100.00

  23. I was just reimbursed for two $50 Delta e-gift cards. Shows as one $100 charge initially, then two $50 charges once it posts to the account.

  24. I used amex plat on a revenue flight of where I still had $245 left after gcs. Used amex checkout and was surprised to get full $200 credit. Much better than buying 3x$50 e gcs and needing to wait 72 hours (did this in Dec and that worked too). This way ended up using those 3x$50s and the $200 for a $395 flight.

  25. I wish I had found this post a few days ago. Last year a $200 Amazon gift card purchase though United Mileage X app worked for reimbursement. This year it was not!

    • Hey, I just experienced the same thing. I ended up just paying for the amazon purchases.

      I did initiate a chat through the Amex website and asked to change the preferred airline and was able to do so with no push back. I stated that I forgot to change my preferred airline in January and that it defaulted back to United. I just stated that I don’t forsee using United this year, and was able to make the switch to a different airline.

  26. Two $100 Alaska e-gift cards reimbursed within two days with AMEX Business Platinum Card. Note that I had to wait 24 hours after purchasing to use the e-gift cards.

    FEB 11
    AMEX Airline Fee Reimbursement -$100.00
    FEB 11
    AMEX Airline Fee Reimbursement -$100.00
    FEB 9
    ALASKA AIR GIFT CERTSEATTLE WA $100.00
    FEB 9
    ALASKA AIR GIFT CERTSEATTLE WA $100.00

  27. I used my $100 Travel Credit for my AMEX PRG, however I’ve been contemplating upgrading to the Platinum for a while now. If I upgrade now, would I get an additional $200 travel credit, or would the $100 I used for the PRG count against the credit for the Platinum and hence only have $100 remaining? Thanks!

    • Sorry for not responding sooner. I don’t know for sure. I would assume that you get the full $200 travel credit for the Platinum card as you are changing to a different product and as such should enjoy that product’s specific benefits regardless of your previous product’s benefits, but I don’t know for sure.

  28. One more DP, Amex Gold Reward, American Airlines $100 GC reimbursement success

    FEB 26
    AMEX Airline Fee Reimbursement
    -$100.00

    FEB 24
    AMERICAN AIRLINES 45800-433-7300 TX
    $100.00

  29. Purchased Alaska Airline gift certificate on March 2 and 5 for $100 separately, received the reimbursement for both on March 4 and 7.

  30. I purchased e-gift cards for Alaska Air on both the PRG card and the Platinum card in denominations of $100 and $50 and all were reimbursed within 2 days. I did this in January and February.

  31. I used the United gift registry on 3/19 and gave myself a $100 gift on my Amex PRG and I got the full reimbursement 3/21.

  32. Amex Gold Premier Rewards card. Purchased $100 digital gift card from American Airlines, successfully credited.

    Transaction posted 3/31/2017, credit posted 4/02/2017

    • If you purchased it 3 days ago, I’m guessing the charge posted to your account yesterday, right? Reimbursement is usually 2 days after it posts. I’d expect you to see the reimbursement tomorrow. If you haven’t seen it by Monday, let me know.

    • I purchased my $50 gift card on April 22nd 2017and still haven’t received anything… maybe they’ve caught on to people doing this…

        • It was a $50 Southwest Gift Card on my Platinum Amex and yes I have my airline selected as Southwest. I see a lot of ppl being reimbursed for $100 & $200 cards within 2-4 days but my $50 wasn’t? I’m kinda of sceptical to spend another $100 just to try and find out if it’s actually true?…

  33. This is a very useful post. I just applied and got approved for the Platinum business card TODAY. I am incredibly excited about the 50% points reimbursement, that’s a large benefit. It also will, apparently, work for Southwest. However, for Southwest you need to call to get this benefit, which is fine.

    Shall we decide to go to Mexico as a family, this will come in handy.

  34. Purchased a $50 Delta e-gift card on 04/01/2017. No reimbursement yet as of 15 days after purchase. Perhaps will not be any.

  35. I purchased a $100 Amazon gift card through the United mileage portal on April 2nd, was not reimbursed,called and was told I would not be reimbursed for a gift card. I was reimbursed for same last October and November, even when I had to call.

    • Yes sadly this loophole has been closed 🙁 I used to do this all the time and had over $400 in Amazon credit but as of 2017 I can say indefinitely that this NO LONGER WORKS so with this being gone and United beating ppl up I changed airlines…

    • Sorry to hear this. We’ve had the MileagePlus X app in our list of things that no longer work since a reader confirmed this in December (and multiple reports from other sources confirmed that change as well). It’s in red under “United” in the post above. Unfortunately, a lot of methods for United have dried up.

  36. $100 American Airlines Virtual Gift Card purchased on 09 June 2017.
    $100 AMEX Airline Fee Reimbursement posted on 11 June 2017.

  37. Bought 3 X $50 eGift cards for Delta. Showed pending for $150 for a few days then showed up as 3 X $50 charges, reimbursed within a couple days.

  38. Purchased two x $100 AA e gift cards in June, and got reimbursed fully after 3-4 days. Can somebody tell me their experience on City National Bank Crystal $250 airline fee experience ? thanks !

    • I use the CNB card to pay the fees on Delta awards. They always reimburse those. Another reader once told me that he got reimbursed for buying AA egift cards, but that was a while ago. Can’t promise that it still works.

  39. Anyone had this experience – a partial reimbursement?

    21 Jun
    AMEX AIRLINE FEE REIMBURSEMENT
    -$40.04
    18 Jun
    SW AIR DALLAS TX
    $100.00

    • Yes, it happens when you’ve already used up the rest of your reimbursement credits. For example, if you have a Platinum card with $200 per year in credits, and if you’ve already received $159.96 in reimbursements, then you’ll get a max of $40.04 here.

  40. Thanks for heads up on this!
    -Selected Southwest as airline for credit
    -a minute later I charged a $100 SW email gc on southwest.com
    -charge took three days to fully post (when posted it seemed to indicate that it was actual airline travel and that it had an associated ticket number…maybe AMEX just doesn’t care?)
    -took credit another day to post
    🙂

  41. Does anyone have recent updates on what works for reimbursement for Alaska Airlines? A month ago I purchased 4 x $50 eGift cards and the purchase lumped together as one charge and I was not reimbursed. I am wondering if I purchase $50 Alaskan egift cards separately if this will work or perhaps if it will be better to purchase gift cards through Alaskan at the airport. Thanks!

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