If you have not already selected an airline for your Amex airline credit this year, January 31 is the last day to change your airline choice. Below is a summary of how the American Express airline credit fee works and what you can use it for.
Amex Airline Fee Credit
One of the benefits of the American Express Platinum card is the $200 per calendar year airline fee credit. The Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card also has a similar $100 airline fee credit.
The way the annual travel credit works is that you or the authorized users charge airline fees to your Amex card and then you will be reimbursed with a statement credit. However, you must select an airline first before charging fees to your Amex card. Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline are not eligible for statement credits.
You Must Select an Airline First!
In order to receive statement credits toward incidental air travel fees, the card member must first select a qualifying airline at www.americanexpress.com/airlinechoice.
Amex cardmembers who have not chosen a qualifying airline are able to select an airline any time in the calendar year.
If you have already selected a qualifying airline you can change your choice one time each year in January at www.americanexpress.com/airlinechoice or by calling the number on the back of the card. Card Members who do not change their airline selection will remain with their current airline. (In practice, Amex has made exceptions and allowed people to change their airline credit after January if you call them but I would not rely on that if you want to change your airline.)
What can you use the Amex airline fee credit for?
The Amex travel credit reimburses cardholders for incidental air travel fees that are separate charges from airline ticket charges. This includes things like checked bag fees, pet fees, in flight drinks etc. According to Amex the airline fee credit does not include the following:
“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. The airline must submit the charge under the appropriate merchant code, industry code, or required service or product identifier for the charge to be recognized as an incidental air travel fee.”
Using the Amex Airline Fee Credit for Airline Gift Cards
Even though gift cards are explicitly excluded by Amex, in practice, you are able to get reimbursed for some airline gift cards purchases. Some airline gift card purchases get coded as incidental air travel fees so you can get a statement credit for those purchases.
Right now the airline fee credits seem to be working for gift cards from the following airlines:
• Delta electronic gift cards $50 (Make sure to purchase only from a desktop site, purchases from the mobile site are processed differently and do not work! Also do not purchase gifts cards in higher than $50 denominations)
• Southwest electronic gift cards $200 or less
• American Airlines gift cards $100 or less
As you can see, I purchased electronic Delta gift cards late last year and Southwest gift cards this year and I have already been reimbursed by Amex.
The rules can change at any time however so there are no guarantees that airline gifts cards will still work. The best way to check if a particular airline gift card purchase is likely to get reimbursed is to check flyertalk. You can find more information on flyertalk on the following threads: American Airlines here, Delta Airlines here, Southwest Airlines here, Alaska Airlines here, United Airlines here, JetBlue Airlines here and Hawaiian Airlines here. For current information, make sure to read the primer on top and the last couple of pages.