Amex Airline Fee Reimbursements. What still works?

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 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.

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.

What purchases count… officially?

Eligible incidental fees include:

  • Checked baggage fees (including overweight/oversize)
  • Itinerary change fees
  • Phone reservation fees
  • Pet flight fees
  • Seat assignment fees
  • In-flight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, headphones)
  • In-flight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet because it’s not charged by the airline)
  • Airport lounge day passes & annual memberships

What purchases count… unofficially?

Sometimes purchases of gift cards, award fees, or even low-cost airfare are reimbursed even though they shouldn’t be.  In some cases there seem to be maximum dollar limits.  Gift cards purchased directly from an airline under a certain dollar amount may trigger the airline fee reimbursement, but larger denomination gift cards may not.  And the things that work or don’t work vary by airline and over time.  Something that worked in the past won’t necessarily work today.

The following table shows the unofficial stuff that works or doesn’t work with each airline that can be chosen as your preferred airline:

Alaska

What Works? Recent Reports
Airfare under $100 $86.43 11/21/17 Used gift card to force airfare below $100 (via Flyertalk)
What Fails? Recent Reports
E-gift card Gift card purchases stopped working summer 2017
$50 10/28/17

$25 8/6/17
 

American

What Works? Recent Reports
E-gift card $200 11/17
$100 12/5/17
Physical Gift card $50 or less 12/9/17
5 Star Service $325 3/21/17
 

Delta

What Works? Recent Reports
Physical Gift card $50 or less $50 12/14/16
E-Gift card $50 or less Four $50 purchased at once 11/28/17 (via Flyertalk)
$50 10/10/17
Award fees under $200 $54.76 12/9/17
What Fails? Recent Reports
Gift cards over $50
Award fees over $200
 

Frontier

What Works? Recent Reports
Discount Den membership 12/17
 

Hawaiian

What Works? Recent Reports
 Airfare under $50 $29.83 10/17 (via Flyertalk). Used gift card to reduce airfare
What Fails? Recent Reports
Gift cards $50 7/19/17 (via Flyertalk)
Airfare over $50 $53 10/17 (via Flyertalk)
 

JetBlue

What Works? Recent Reports
Airfare under $150?  $137.40 7/17 (via Flyertalk)
Award fees $5.60 7/17 (via Flyertalk)
What Fails? Recent Reports
Airfare over $150 $250 1/11/17 (via Flyertalk)
Gift cards They don’t sell them
 

Spirit

 No Data
 

Southwest

What Works? Recent Reports
Airfare under $100 $78 2016
E-gift card $200 12/17
$200 11/30/17
Early bird check-in $15 2016
Award Fees 12/2017
 

United

What Works? Recent Reports
Only standard stuff Economy Plus, United Club, Pet Fee, Same Day Flight Change
What Fails? Recent Reports
MileagePlus X App Purchases
United Gift Registry This doesn’t really fail — it’s just no longer available
Award Fees
Gift Card
$99 Upgrade Fee 2016

Please report your results!

If you try any unofficial options, please let us know via the comments whether it worked. Tell us the date of purchase, what you purchased, the dollar amount, and whether or not you were reimbursed.  Please do not report purchases that are officially reimbursed unless you do not get the credit.

What to do if you’re not reimbursed?

First, double check that you picked the airline in question as your preferred airline.  If you did not, then Amex won’t reimburse you (but they have been known to make an exception if you call and say that you forgot to set your preferred airline).

If you do not get reimbursed for things that are officially allowed (checked bags, change fees, lounge fees, etc.), then contact Amex for help.  If you do not get reimbursed for things that are not officially allowed (gift cards, award fees, airfare, etc.) do not contact Amex.  You weren’t really supposed to get reimbursed for those anyway.

Other cards that offer fee reimbursements

Quite a few other cards offer airline fee reimbursements.  We’d like to setup pages like this for each of them.  If you have experience earning or not earning airline fee credits with other cards, we’d like to hear that too!  Please comment below with your experience, but please make sure to include the card name and airline in your comment.  For example (this is a real one from my experience):

CNB Crystal Visa Infinite 7/30/17 $54.86 Delta award fee reimbursed 8/3/17

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this, any information on Bank of America Premium Rewards card (the new one) with buying Delta gift cards?

  2. Ritz-Carlton is doodoo. I assumed it worked like the CSR. I’ll get rid it next year then just upgrade from the CSP to the CSR

    • You definitely have to call in for Ritz-Carlton credits. I haven’t had any issue using it, but I’ve had enough legitimate uses for it. I’ve found it useful for the discount European carriers since the actual fare is cheap and I can then use the Ritz card for seat selection/upgrade, checked bags, etc.

      • Thank you for replying and giving me some input. I will call them. Last time I messaged them they asked me for “proof” of my purchases. I will be flying Air France and I am hoping to buy a gift card or two. Some carriers will share data 3 info with Amex & Chase which makes me think twice.

  3. I upgraded to the Amex Gold Premier in August 2017, and since I had a couple of Frontier flights already booked, I selected them as my reward airline. here’s what they cover:

    Before I chose Frontier, I called Amex and specifically asked if seat assignment fees are covered. They said NO! The next day I got this email, saying yes. So don’t rely on any info you get over the phone.
    =====
    Thank you for selecting Frontier Airlines for your $100 Airline Fee Credit benefit. You will now receive up to $100 in statement credits each calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your eligible American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Account.

    Eligible incidental fees include:

    Checked baggage fees (including overweight/oversize baggage)
    Itinerary change fees
    Phone reservation fees
    Pet flight fees
    Seat assignment fees
    In-flight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, headphones)
    In-flight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet fees, because these fees are not charged by the airline)
    Airport lounge day passes & annual memberships

      • Yes, i used it,as I stated. I had two flights upcoming on Frontier. Everything that I charged was reimbursed:

        checked bag
        seat assignment fees
        drinks.

        (Frontier doesn’t serve food, other than little bags of munchies for highway robbery prices.)

        Since I was not going to fly Frontier anytime for the rest of the year, I was even buying drinks for my seat-mates, just to use up the $100 in credits. Made a couple of new friends. 🙂

  4. I just purchased 2 $50 E-Gift cards from Southwest. I made the first transaction on 12/1/17 and the second on 12/4/17. I was reimbursed for both.

  5. First year on the PRG card and used $50 on UA baggage fees in Sept, then realize in Dec that even gift registry doesn’t work! Used online chat 2 days ago and asked nicely to switch to Southwest, tellling them I don’t plan to fly UA anymore. Wish granted, no question asked. Have yet to buy gift card, will do so today. We all need to tell Amex this kind of air credit really sucks! Need to be like CSR or at least any airline charge!

  6. My experience with Ritz Carlton was to message Chase and tell them what charge to cover and within 24 hours I got the credit in my account. I used the Ritz C for doing seat upgrades whether paying or points for the seat. Strange perk, but kinda nice. On the fence about cancelling this one.

  7. I purchased 4 $50 Delta (my selected airline) e-gift cards with American Express Platinum on 11/27/17. I was NOT reimbursed – coded as “airline – travel”.

      • Delta is my selected airline. I checked before I made the purchase. (and checked again after your reply). It worked last year. Disappointed. I’ll be able to use the gift cards, but now still have $200 credits without a way to use them. Makes the $550 fee less and less appealing – will probably cancel it.

  8. As I said on another post, I have an amazing hack if you have no purchases planned for your Amex Platinum. Don’t want to post it publicly, so DM me on Twitter if you want to learn.

  9. I just got the following reimbursed Saturday (12/09):

    1. $100 American Airlines credit on Gold card via PHYSICAL gift cards (two $50 gift cards)
    2. $200 American Airlines credit on Platinum Business Card via Physical gift cards (four $50 gift cards)

  10. Thanks for the data points! I’ve updated the page. Rather than listing all data points, we’re only listing the ones that are most recent and largest denomination. For example, if we get a new datapoint for a $50 gift card working, we won’t take away the most recent datapoint for a $200 gift card working, but we will update the table with the latest purchase date that worked for the $50 gift card.

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