Which Airline Gift Cards Are Reimbursed by American Express Platinum $200 Fee Credit

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American Express Platinum Cardholders (including the “regular” Platinum, Business Platinum, Mercedes-Benz Platinum, and Ameriprise Platinum) get a $200 Airline Fee Credit each calendar year to offset “incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments.”

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However “[t]his benefit doesn’t offer credit toward airline tickets, mileage points purchases or mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, upgrades, duty–free purchases, or award tickets.”

You have to designate one airline each year before making the purchase you want to offset, make that purchase on your Platinum card, and wait for reimbursement.

This fee credit is much worse than the $250 Air Travel Credit on the Citi Prestige® Card, which also resets each calendar year, because:

  1. $250 is better than $200. And since you can earn these credits every calendar year and the first 12 months you hold the relevant credit card will contain two calendar years, $500 is better than $400. Please read this full post on the Prestige’s $250 Air Travel Credit to learn how to earn it.
  2. The Prestige’s Air Travel Credit explicitly reimburses the purchase of airfare and payment of award taxes. The Platinum’s specifically disallows those purchases.
  3. You have to enroll in the Platinum’s credit. The Prestige’s is automatic.
  4. You have to choose a single airline each year for the Platinum’s credit. The Prestige’s credit covers all airlines (and online travel agencies.)

While some people spend $200 per year on incidentals like onboard refreshments, seat selection, and baggage fees, most of us don’t. It would be better to convert that $200 to something more useful. Enter gift cards.

While AMEX’s terms and conditions clearly say you can’t buy gift cards and get reimbursed, in fact, you can. There is a FlyerTalk thread devoted to each airline that you can select for fee reimbursement for people to post their experiences trying to purchase gift cards.

I’d recommend clicking on the thread that interests you, reading the wiki at the top that summarizes the thread in a few paragraphs and then clicking on the last page or two to read the most recent reports. I’ll do that for you here, but it could become out of date quickly.

American Airlines

Gift cards of $100 or less are being automatically reimbursed. Purchase two $100 gift cards a few days apart.

Alaska Airlines

For the last few months, no Alaska Airlines gift cards have been reimbursed. Keep a close eye on the thread though because the problem may be temporary.

Delta Airlines

Gift cards of $50 or less are being automatically reimbursed. Purchase four $50 gift cards during the same checkout. You can redeem two at once.

Hawaiian Airlines

Only one attempt–at a $200 gift card has been reported in the last four years–and it was not reimbursed. Two years ago, someone’s under-$100 Hawaiian Airlines flights were reimbursed, but not his flights over $100.

JetBlue

Gift cards are not reimbursed.

United

The wiki of the United thread:

“Gift Registry and Gift Cards

The consensus is that United gift registry contributions will be reimbursed and gift card purchases will not. So

  1. Log into united.com
  2. Set up a gift registry for yourself
  3. Use the link in your gift registry web page to send an announcement to your email address. This better, faster, and more reliable than searching for your gift registry, especially if you have a common name. Even someone with an unusual surname like mre5765 has could not find his registry after creating it.
  4. Log out of united.com
  5. Follow the Make Contribution in your gift registry email
  6. Contribute using your Amex platinum card

There seems to be no downside to contributing in sub-200 dollar chunks since the gift registry creates a single pool of cash. However there are lots of reports of successful fee credits from a single $200 donation. Whether done as on $200 transaction or eight $25 transactions, the result is that one will have $200 in ones TravelBank.”

So that’s very gift-card-like and just a few more steps.

Southwest

$100 gift cards are being reimbursed.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. […] But American Express’s computers decides whether a certain purchase qualifies for a fee credit, and in the experience of thousands of people, certain airline gift card purchases will result in a statement credit. That makes this benefit like getting $400 in free flights, which almost completely offsets the annual fee in one swoop. Here is the lowdown on which airline gift cards are being reimbursed as of October 2015. […]

    • You are basically pre-buying $200 worth of flights on these airlines for free. Whichever one you are likely to fly first.

    • Which airline has the most value? There is no easy answer. The airline that will get you where you want to go would be the first one to deal with. Next would be an airline you would like to fly, either due to their service level, or miles.

      In reality, there is no answer to your question.

  2. I know with Delta, we’ve definitely been getting the taxes on award tickets reimbursed. That is mainly what we use it for since Gold elite means we don’t pay for luggage.

  3. Has anyone run into any issue making an American Airlines gift card out to yourself. In other words, do the airlines car if Joe Shmo is in both the “From” and “To” fields?

  4. I just tried buying Hawaiian Air gift card on their website for Amex gold. The statement says “Hawaiian Gift LLC”, not Hawaiian airlines. I don’t think it will ever be reimbursed as the statement doesn’t even say Hawaiian Airlines.

    • Bought $50 Hawaiian Air gift card on their website on 12/16, reimbursed on 12/24. Statement showed charge was to HAWAIIAN GIFTS HAWAIHONOLULU HI.

  5. I’m considering purchasing a United flight through Amex travel using all of my points. The remaining balance comes to $235 after applying my points. If I get $200 by creating a gift registry through United, is there any way to apply this $200 to my remaining balance through Amex travel or does the purchase have to be made through United? I’m pretty sure I already know the answer to this, just trying to find a loophole.

  6. Scot, Sarah:

    I opened my Mercedes Benz Platinum Amex card in July 2016 and in November purchased four (4) $50 Delta gift cards. I was reimbursed for them on my December statement. With the year turnover, I purchased two (2) $100 gift cards in late January, but my March statement did not contain a reimbursement. I called Amex and was told by a representative and then her supervisor that such a purchase was not reimbursable. I referenced the previous reimbursements, but they remained adamant — no credit. Any thoughts?

    • They are right that those are not technically reimbursable as made clear in this post. The trick is to get the system to reimburse automatically because an agent won’t reimburse them later (unless you lie and claim they are some sort of fee.) Try again with one $50 card, and if that works, get three more.

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