AMEX Airline Fee Credit Changes: A Bummer for American Airlines Flyers

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If you’ve got an AMEX card that offers a yearly airline incidental fee credit, like The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, or American Express® Gold Card, this news might sting a little.

Although it’s excluded from AMEX’s terms, many folks have had success getting gift cards from certain airlines to trigger the credit, including American Airlines.

Reports have been swirling online for the past week that American Airlines gift card purchases have changed in the way they were coded with AMEX.  Now, after some experimentation over at TPG, it seems this is indeed the case and American Airlines gift cards are no longer being reimbursed.

American Airlines Gift Cards No Longer Trigger the AMEX Airline Fee Credit on Certain American Express Cards

Here’s more about this development and what your options are if American is your selected airline.

AMEX Airline Fee Credit Changes for American Airlines Gift Cards

AMEX offers an airline fee credit on your selected airline every calendar year with the following cards:

These credits are meant to be used for airline incidental fees, NOT airfare, award tickets, or points purchases.  American Express also specifically excludes gift cards from the list, but in practice, gift card purchases in smaller denominations from American Airlines, Delta, and Southwest have triggered the credit.  This has been an easy way to offset the annual fee cost on these cards.

I Purchased American Airlines Gift Cards With My AMEX Hilton Aspire in Late December and Got My Airline Fee Credit Within a Few Days

That’s recently changed for American Airlines gift card purchases.  They’re now coding as gift certificates instead of “miscellaneous taxes and fees” (as shown above), and as such are no longer being reimbursed.

This isn’t great news for folks who have American Airlines as their selected airline and haven’t used their credit yet for 2019 (myself included).  It also makes you wonder if Delta and Southwest aren’t soon to follow suit – so if either is your selected airline and gift cards are on your radar, it’d be wise to buy them as soon as you can.  Here’s more on how that works.

What Are Your Options If American Airlines Is Your Selected Airline?

You’re not totally out of luck if American is your selected airline for 2019.  You can still redeem your AMEX airline fee credit for lots of things, including:

  • Checked baggage fees (including overweight/oversize fees)
  • 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

For example, if you’re facing a long flight, you could splurge for Main Cabin Extra seats (more legroom, preferred boarding, free adult beverages) without guilt.  Or treat yourself to an Admirals Club airport lounge visit ($59 for a day pass) and enjoy a more comfy airport experience.

You Could Use Your AMEX Airline Fee Credit for Admirals Lounge Airport Lounge Passes and Relax Away From the Busy Terminal

And, while you’re technically only able to change your selected airline once a year between January 1 and January 31, there are lots of reports online and from MMS readers and team members that AMEX might change your airline at other times if you call / message and ask.  The worst they can say is no – so it’s absolutely worth a try.  😉

Bottom Line

Even though they weren’t supposed to, American Airlines gift cards had been triggering the annual AMEX airline fee credit on cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, or American Express® Gold Card until recently.  But this no longer works.

Anecdotally, that leaves Delta (only when purchased through the desktop site, NOT mobile) and Southwest as your only gift card options, as long as they’re your selected airline.  Here’s more on what works for AMEX incidental fee credits.

Let us know in the comments if this change affects you and what your plans are going forward.

(Hat Tip:  TPG)

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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