Amex Airline Fee Reimbursements. What still works?

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: 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

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
Airfare under $100 $73.30 7/16/19 Paid airfare for short route, credited automatically (via Flyertalk). Note that there are also a few negative reports of airfares under $100, so YMMV – but most reports under $100 are still positive as of 7/19.
$86.43 11/21/17 Used gift card to force airfare below $100 (via Flyertalk)
Award redeposit fee $125 (x 2 passengers) 6/19. Had to call as it did not post automatically (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
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
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. 
 

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
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
 

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
Extra comfort upgrade $89 6/19 (benjinito)
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? $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 $59 7/19 (via Flyertalk)
$90 2/18
$62.50 8/18 (Two tix under same record locator for $62.50 each – Lia)
E-gift card $200 12/21/18
Early bird check-in $15 2016
Award Fees 2/18
A1-A15 boarding $40 (2/18)
Split payment for airfare w/ under $100 charged to card $94 (7/20/19) Used a gift card to pay part of the airfare ($16) and paid $94 remainder on an Amex Plat. Gift card was not reimbursed, but airfare was. (via Flyertalk)
$99 (7/19) Used a $10 gift card + $99 charged to Platinum card (x2). Got reimbursed $198. (via Flyertalk)
What Fails? Recent Reports
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
Standard stuff Economy Plus, United Club, Pet Fee, Same Day Flight Change
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)
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
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.  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
CNB Crystal Visa Infinite 6/1/18 $56.02 Southwest fee to change from anytime to Business Select (Justice Jen)

Last updated on August 2nd, 2019

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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[…] $100 airline fee credit: up to $100 in statement credits per year for incidental expenses like baggage fees at one selected airline (see what works here). […]

May
Guest
May

$100 southwest gift card purchased 6/18/19 reimbursed 6/21/19.

Shailendra
Guest
Shailendra

did you purchased from Online ( direct website from Southwest?)?

cliburn
Guest
cliburn

I was recently reimbursed for 5 x $40 American 500 mile upgrade “stickers.” I bought them one at a time.

Arlington Traveler
Guest
Arlington Traveler

Upgraded to Economy Plus on Delta 7/12 and it did not credit as the charge was coded an “upgrade.”

Dan P
Guest
Dan P

July 15: Yes to taxes on an award flight on AA. No (so far) to the $75 close-in fee for making an award reservation at last minute.

abruce
Guest
abruce

Can you get airport lounge reimbursement for any lounge if you chose Southwest as your airline?

Bob
Guest
Bob

Any data points on whether the Bonvoy Brilliant cards still (unofficially) reimburse for MArriott gift cards purchased at Marriott-family hotels?

jeph36
Guest
jeph36

Here are some DPs for earlier in 2019 for non-Amex cards based on old statements:
CNB Crystal Visa Infinite 2019-Feb-14 $50 AA eGC — reimbursed 2019-Feb-20
CNB Crystal Visa Infinite 2019-Feb-20 $200 AA eGC — reimbursed 2019-Feb-27
CNB Crystal Visa Infinite (P2) 2019-Mar-03 $250 AA eGC — reimbursed 2019-Mar-13
PenFed Pathfinder 2019-Mar-04 $100 AA eGC — reimbursed 2019-Jun-06

I only have a P2 on the CNB, no P3 or P4 yet.
Yes, that PenFed reimbursement required ~3 months, but that was similar to last year in the first year I had it. Oddly it was described as “MPX*AIRBNB …” for the credit even though the purchase was correctly described as American Airlines (no mention of GC).

I PC’d to an Aspire a couple months ago, so here is hoping I can make it work to get the $250 this year and next. I am pretty sure I can make it happen without GC purchases. But that resort fee is going to a complete waste for me unless someone comes up with a not-staying-at-a-resort way to get reimbursed.

Mary Jane
Guest
Mary Jane

Get a weekend out of the resort fee. Pay for one night and charge the other night and you’ll get the $250 credit for the 2nd night.

jeph36
Guest
jeph36

Mary Jane, I do not understand your approach here. I am not going to any resorts. Are you suggesting a method that does not involve a resort visit?

Will
Guest
Will

$40.00 500 mile upgrade online on American Airlines with Amex Gold on July 26, 2019. Reimbursed on July 29, 2019.

trackback

[…] For years, many cardholders have pocketed the full reimbursement each year by buying airline gift cards.  These apparently appeared to Amex as fees and so they were reimbursed.  Unfortunately, Amex has recently figured out how to identify these charges and no longer reimburses most gift card purchases (there are a few exceptions though). […]

BML
Guest
BML

I really wish Amex doesn’t fix the airline for reimbursement!! I have Ritz card and have had award taxes on an ANA award ticket completely reimbursed when I called in. I just told them it is award fees, no questions asked. However Southwest GC stopped working for Ritz also. May be it depends on the agent when you call.

Jim P
Guest
Jim P

After losing the gift card reimbursement I decided the annual fee for the Platinum card was no longer worth it and signed up for a Delta AMEX. I called to cancel my Platinum card and they gave me a $500 statement credit to keep it open.

HoKo
Guest
HoKo

How much had you spent on the card in the past 12 months?

Jay
Guest
Jay

Same – tho they offered me 500 sc or 50k mr points, I took the points as I can put those to work better. I think they saw I charged about 40k last year and hardly use the benefits of the card (lounge maybe once a month) so I’m an inexpensive cardholder to maintain.

Solo
Guest
Solo

Have Delta gift card purchases always been redirected to deltavacations.com? If not, could that be the reason they’re not triggering the reimbursement anymore? (It seems that’s how the purchase gets processed by Delta currently.)

Randy
Guest
Randy

Used the credit ($200) to purchase Alaska club membership, had to call 800 number to get credit, didn’t post automatically. Credit posted 7/28/19

Rex
Guest
Rex

$18.31 on airfare Frontier on 8/10/19. Amex Platinum