American Express

AMEX Platinum $200 Airline Gift Card Reimbursement

I’ve had my American Express Platinum Card for a little over a month now, and it is fairly awesome!

In addition to the Lounge Access, SPG Gold Status, $100 Global Entry Fee, and a whole host of other benefits, you also get $200 annually in “Airline Fee” reimbursements.

American Express is fairly lenient on what constitutes as “Airline Fees”, so what people have figured out is that some Airline Gift Cards get billed as “Airline Fees” meaning that AMEX Platinum Cardholders can get reimbursed for them!

Why this is important is because the $200 Airline Fee is Annual, which in this case means every Calendar Year, so $200 in 2012, $200 in 2013, etc.

The AMEX Platinum Card does come with a hefty $450 Annual Fee, but if timed right (ie. end of the Calendar year), you can pay the $450 Annual Fee once, and get $600 in reimbursements all while enjoying the Lounge Access.

That is the exact reason I got this Card!

I HATE paying Annual Fees as much as the next person, but if I can pay $450 and get 1 year of Lounge Access, SPG Gold Status, 50,000 Membership Rewards Points, and $600 back in Airline Gift Cards, it is a no brainer!

Getting Reimbursed

To get reimbursed, first you have to pick a specific Airline to get reimbursed for.

You can only change the Airline at the start of each year and cannot change the Airline if you change your mind mid-year.

If you do not pick an Airline, then you won’t get reimbursed.

When I occasionally fly Business Class (on Miles of course!), I will chat with the people next to me. Most of them invariably have the AMEX Platinum because they are “Big Fish”, however most of them are oblivious to the fact that they can get $200 back annually in Airline Fees.

Also the reimbursement is NOT retro active. So if you made past purchases for Baggage Fees, Lounge Access, etc, you can’t select your Airline now and get expect to get reimbursed.

To select your Airline for the year, simply click here or call the number on the back of your Card.

One thing I will caution, is that you should first read this entire post before picking your Airline because not every single Airline’s Gift Cards count for reimbursement. Once you select your Airline, remember you can’t change it again until January 1, 2013!

Airlines That Reimburse

According to AMEX’s terms, only the following items are suppose to get reimbursed for Platinum Cardholders:

  • Checked Bag Fees
  • Change Fees
  • Overweight Bag Fees
  • Airport Lounge Day Passes & Annual Memberships
  • Phone Reservation Fees
  • Pet Flight Fees
  • Seat Assignment Fees
  • In-Flight Amenity Fees
  • In-Flight Entertainment Fees (Does Not Include Wireless Internet)

In reality, there are quite a few other things that will get reimbursed such as Gift Cards, even if they aren’t officially sanctioned.

Since this is technically a loophole, to figure out if your particular Airline’s Gift Cards count towards the $200 AMEX Platinum Reimbursement, you have to check what other people’s experiences have been so far.

Thankfully on FlyerTalk there are entire threads of people’s experiences on trying to get reimbursed.

So depending on what Airline you primarily fly on, simply click the thread below and go to the last page to see what the most recent comments are.  If there hasn’t been an update in a couple months, simply post asking for an update.

My Experience With United & Getting Reimbursed

So my original plan was actually to get $200 in Southwest Gift Cards.

The reason for this is because I am going to get the Companion Pass which is good for 2013 / 2014. The Pass is valid for Paid and Award tickets, so a $200 Gift Card on Southwest would actually be worth $400 with the Companion Pass!

Unfortunately there weren’t enough data points on the Southwest FlyerTalk thread for me to conclusively know that I would get reimbursed for the Southwest Gift Cards, so I went with tried and true United!

In reading the United Thread above, it is extremely clear that American Express recognizes United Gift Cards as an “Airline Fee”. I don’t know if this is a glitch or if so few people use this loop hole that it isn’t worth it for them to spend money to fix, but it definitely works.

So after reading the United Thread, I simply went to United.com and purchased a $200 Gift Card here and emailed it to myself.

United has dumb rules about only using 1 Gift Card per a ticket purchase, so I suggest just getting 1 x $200 gift certificate and not 2 x $100 gift certificates.

The purchase showed up on my American Express Platinum Statement like this, which is similar to what other people reported on FlyerTalk.

Then on 11/26/2012, a $200 Airline Fee Reimbursement appeared on my Statement!

Once January 1, 2013 comes around, I plan on doing this again to get another $200.

My Annual Fee for the AMEX Platinum is due around December 2013, but the fee is pro-rated, so I will buy another $200 Gift Card in January 2014, and then close my Card!

Of course, I will also call sometime in April and casually say I am interested in closing my Card and see if I am offered a Retention Bonus : )

Recap

All in all, although there is a monstrous $450 fee on the AMEX Platinum, if you get the Card within the next month (they’ll ship it overnight to you), you should easily be able to get $600 in Airline Gift Cards out of it.

Normal Lounge Access for non-Elites costs around $500 a year, and 50,000 Membership Rewards are worth around $500 – $750+ depending on how you use them.

That being said, for paying $450, you are getting close to $2,000+ in benefits once you throw in the $600 Gift Cards. For me that was a hard offer to pass up.

I am fairly certain there is some extremely corny business catch phrase that says, “It takes money to make money”. I suspect that this would be one of those times.

If you are interested in the Card, the best available offers are below.

Link To AMEX Express Platinum 50,000 Points With $3,000 MSR In 3 Months – $450 Fee

Link To AMEX Mercedes Benz Platinum 50,000 Points With $1,000 MSR In 3 Months – $475 Fee

Parag

2 Comments

  • FrequentflyerRS says:

    Is the certificate only valid on united operated flights? I didnt read anything to that effect in the terms, however, they are telling me that now at 1-800-UNITED…

  • Frequent Flyer University says:

    @FrequentflyerRS – I assumed it was for any flight that was bookable on United.com, since you can enter the code and use it on there for any Star Alliance flight that shows up.

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