There are many reports on different forums and blogs that the Amex travel credit loophole for the MPX (Mileage Plus X) app has gone the way of the dinosaurs. We’re still waiting confirmation but at this point it’s not looking very good.
What was the MPX travel credit loop hole?
American Express offers a $100 airline credit for the Premier Rewards Gold Card and a $200 airline credit for the Platinum Card. These credits are meant to apply to “incidental fees,” such as checked bags, in-flight refreshments, flight-change fees, baggage fees, phone reservation fees, etc. While these categories are okay, the travel credits were still only limited to those purchases so if you had no plans on spending money on those, it really didn’t do you any good.
The MPX loop hole was a loop hole that allowed these $100 and $200 travel credits to be applied to any purchases on the United MPX app and thus made the travel credit much more practical and valuable.
What’s the United MPX app?
The United MPX app is an app that allows you to link your credit cards to it and earn United miles on purchases from stores at valuable rates like 5 miles per dollar. It works by essentially creating a e-gift card on demand. It’s a great app and it contains a ton of stores and restaurants that you probably already shop or eat at (department stores, Amazon.com, etc.). If you haven’t heard of this app, I highly suggest you look more into it because it’s a great way to supplement miles for United.
So what’s the issue?
Before, you could link your American Express credit card to the MPX app and whenever you made a purchase on the app it would code as “Travel – Airline” which made the travel credit eligible to kick in for American Express cards. (And it would also code as 3X on travel on future use.)
Now, it looks like while the charges are still coding as travel for many, the travel credits are not processing which means this could be the end of the loophole.
It’s still not guaranteed that this loophole is dead. In fact, last year around this same time, these credits were inexplicably stalled but eventually kicked in to the relief of many. The problem is that last year, gift card purchases were also stalled but seem to still be working just fine now. Thus, while there’s still time to hold out hope, I’m not too optimistic.
What does this mean?
In my opinion, this is a significant loss for many when it comes to getting the Platinum Card from American Express. By being able to utilize the Platinum’s $200 travel credit on places like Amazon.com, it made the effective annual fee truly come out to $250, since so many people ordinarily shopped at Amazon. And if you could double-dip, that fee would be an effective $50!
Now, there are still reports that gift card purchases from different airlines are still going through. Just do some research on Flyertalk and you should be able to find the most up to date information.
Just keep in mind what is specifically excluded based on the terms of the cards:
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 loss of the MPX app credit would mean that you need to have already intended on spending $X amount of money on airline travel to get the same savings as before. Remember, you can’t buy $200 worth of airline gift cards and then say the “effective” annual fee of the Platinum is $250 if you wouldn’t have normally spent that money on an airline.
You still might be able to get away with selling gift cards if you don’t use them but overall I really think the loss of the MPX loophole (if it in fact is lost) will be a big blow for many when valuing the Platinum Card.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.