Amex Airline Fee Reimbursements. What still works?

Update 9/3/20: Added all relevant recent datapoints.

Update 7/22/19: Added many data points. eGift cards no longer consistently work with any airline, though a number of other options remain or have since been found. Added a table of contents below for convenience so you can find your chosen airline. Please add your data points in the comments (but wait a few weeks to be sure your credit posts or doesn’t post before reporting it as alive/dead).

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 high annual fees charged by personal Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cards.  Similarly, the Amex Gold card offers up to $100 per year in airline fee reimbursements to help offset that card’s annual fee.  And the Hilton Aspire offers up to $250 per year in airline fee reimbursements.

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: www.americanexpress.com/airlinecreditchoice.  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

And, officially, the following purchases are not deemed to be incidental fees:

  • Airline tickets
  • Upgrades
  • Mileage points purchases
  • Mileage points transfer fees
  • Gift cards
  • Duty free purchases
  • Award tickets

What purchases count… unofficially?

Sometimes purchases of gift cards (update: As of July 2019, gift cards appear to be mostly dead with an occasional exception when the purchase does not code as a gift card), 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.  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
Award redeposit fee $125 (x 2 passengers) 6/19. Had to call as it did not post automatically (via Flyertalk)
Club Membership 7/19. Had to call to get it to post (Randy)
Split Airfare Purchase $149 ticket paid with $50 gift card and $99 charged to card (Camilla)
What Fails? Recent Reports
Airfare under $100
Via BK250:
8/3/19: $63.30, reimbursed 8/7
8/9/19: $54.30, not reimbursed
8/19/19: $63.30, not reimbursed
9/12/19: $68.80, not reimbursed
6/22/20: $49, not reimbursed (PeterSFO)
E-gift card Gift card purchases stopped working summer 2017
$50 10/28/17

$25 8/6/17
 

American

What Works? Recent Reports
Physical Gift card $50 or less 12/9/17: Note that we are doubtful this still works, but did not uncover a direct data point.
5 Star Service $325 3/21/17
Award taxes Report for $5.60 in taxes 7/9/19. Reports for larger amounts of taxes have been mixed. YMMV.
Mileage Multiplier 7/4/19
Upgrade sticker $40.00 500 mile upgrade purchased online 7/26/19 (Will). Also reported by cliburn.
What Fails? Recent Reports
E-gift card Gift card purchases stopped working for many around February / March 2019. It just depends on how AA codes the purchase (coded as a gift certificate will not trigger the credit) and we have not been able to determine a way to predict how it will code. We had some positive reports in February, but most data points from mid-February onward have been negative. 
$75 close-in fee
7/15/19 (Dan P)
 

Delta

What Works? Recent Reports
Physical Gift card $50 or less $50 12/14/16: Will possibly still work if purchased in a Delta SkyClub
E-Gift card $50 or less Four $50 purchased at once via desktop site 9/18 (Santi C)
$50 10/10/17
Three $50 purchased at once (reported 7/2/18)
Note that gift cards purchased on the desktop website code as Delta airlines purchases; those purchased on the mobile site are processed by CashStar and do not work. (via DoC)
One $50 purchases via desktop 9/18 (Miles Enthusiast)
Award fees under $200 $54.76 12/9/17
Companion Ticket Taxes 8/9/20: $20.20 (Greg)
Mileage Booster $59 on 10/19 (Patrick)
Split Airfare Purchase

 $207.40 ticket paid using a $50 gift card and $157.40 charged to the card. 2/20 (Gerry)

$219.20 ticket paid using a $50 gift card and the rest charged to the card. 1/20 (Anyonymouse)

$196 tickets paid using a $50 gift card and the rest charged to the card 1/20 (Jaime)

Airfare $120 1/20 (Mel)
What Fails? Recent Reports
Gift cards over $50
Award fees over $200
eGift cards As per many reports at Flyertalk, this likely died around 6/22/19, though it’s worth noting that mixed reports such as this one from Flyertalk in 7/19 indicate that it’s not completely conclusive.
Companion Ticket Taxes 7/7/19: $46
6/28/19: $28.60
Economy Plus Upgrade
7/12/19 (Arlington Traveler)
 

Frontier

What Works? Recent Reports
Discount Den membership 3/20 (Hsn)
Airfare under $100 $18.31 on 8/10/19 (Rex)
Fee for kids free with vouchers Total under $30 (Usernamechuck)
 

Hawaiian

What Works? Recent Reports
 Airfare under $50 $29.83 10/17 (via Flyertalk). Used gift card to reduce airfare
Extra comfort upgrade $89 6/19 (benjinito)
$180 6/20 (Guest)
Food & beverage on board Success reported 10/18 (via Flyertalk)
Split payment for airfare w/ less than $50 charged to the card $29.80 & $44 11/18 (via Flyertalk)
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? $88.40 1/20 (Tab)
$81.80 7/19 (via Flyertalk)
$137.40 7/17 (via Flyertalk)
Award taxes / fees $5.60-$85 7/19 (via Flyertalk)
$130 (1/19) (via Flyertalk)
Cancellation fees $75 7/19 (via Flyertalk)
Even More upgrade $35, $50 1/19 (via Flyertalk)
What Fails? Recent Reports
Airfare over $150 $250 1/11/17 (via Flyertalk)
Gift cards They don’t sell them
 

Spirit

 What works? Recent Reports
$9 Fare Club Membership $69 11/18 (Joe)
 

Southwest

What Works? Recent Reports
Airfare under $100 $99 5/20 (Mark and Greg)
$54 1/20 (Chia) – I don’t recommend doing this
We had a negative report in November (Tab), but then had a positive report on a $68 fare in mid-December 2019 (Commander22) and three others under $100 (Dylan and Jeremy) as well as several in late November, so the negative report was likely an anomaly.
$59 7/19 (via Flyertalk)
$90 2/18
$62.50 8/18 (Two tix under same record locator for $62.50 each – Lia)
Airfare over $100 While conventional wisdom indicates that flights must be under $100 to trigger the credit, a reader reports getting reimbursed on two flights of $100.50 ($200 rebated out of $201 in charges), so we now know that $100 isn’t the exact limit. 12/20/19 (David G)
E-gift card $200 12/21/18
Early bird check-in $50 9/11/19 (Norm)
$20 5/20 (Greg)
Award Fees $5.60 2/20 (Matthew)
A1-A15 boarding $40 12/19 (Sdin123)
Split payment for airfare w/ under $100 charged to card $96 (10/19) Used a gift card to pay part of the airfare ($42) and paid $96 remainder on Amex Gold. Got $96 credit. (Marshall Davis)
Jason reported success too.
In-flight beverage 11/19 (veeRobb)
Itinerary change $66.50 5/20 (Greg)
What Fails? Recent Reports
Airfare under $100
$68.99 and $78.98 (Tab). Note: We have had many other success reports, so this appears to have been an anomaly.
On-board Wi-Fi $8 charge posted, but was not credited (2/18)
$185 e-Gift card Charge posted 6/22/18, no reimbursement as of 7/9/18 (Katie)
All e-Gift cards Stopped working in June 2019 (via Flyertalk)
Split payment for airfare w/ $100 or more charged to card $155 (7/19) via Flyertalk
 

United

What Works? Recent Reports
Award Fees $47.30 in fees 8/19 (Sarah). Update: This may no longer work as per a DP from JB in San Diego from October 2019.
Standard stuff Economy Plus, United Club, Pet Fee, Same Day Flight Change (Note: A charge for United Club one-time passes on December 31st posted with a date of January 1st and missed using the annual credit – Nick)
Seat upgrade Made through kiosk 11/18 (Ambrosio)
Economy+ seat

6/22/19 from Flyertalk and also $175 for transatlantic Economy+ seat in 2/19 (SKJL).  See 2019 negative report below.

$84 each (x 2) 2/20 (Matthew)

United TravelBank Funding the United TravelBank worked for years and then stopped. Dan’s Deals reported in August 2020 that it is once again working.
What Fails? Recent Reports
Upgrade from economy to first class
$175 charge on 12/27/2018 may have been too large to look like a fee
Economy+ seat
Paid $99 8/17/19 (Heath)
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.  For example, see: Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa airline fee credits: What works?

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. Here are some that have been reported:

CNB Crystal Visa Infinite 7/30/17 $54.86 Delta award fee reimbursed 8/3/17 (Greg)
CNB Crystal Visa Infinite 6/1/18 $56.02 Southwest fee to change from anytime to Business Select (Justice Jen)
CNB Crystal Visa Infinite 2019-Feb-14 $50 AA eGC — reimbursed 2019-Feb-20 (Jeph36)
CNB Crystal Visa Infinite 2019-Feb-20 $200 AA eGC — reimbursed 2019-Feb-27 (Jeph36)
CNB Crystal Visa Infinite (P2) 2019-Mar-03 $250 AA eGC — reimbursed 2019-Mar-13 (Jeph36)
PenFed Pathfinder 2019-Mar-04 $100 AA eGC — reimbursed 2019-Jun-06 (Jeph36)

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