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The Platinum Card from American Express and the Premier Rewards Gold Card both offer annual airline travel credits, with the former granting you a $200 credit and the latter offering a $100 annual credit. The credits work very simply, but I still occasionally see questions related to using these credits. So here are are 6 common FAQs about using the Amex airline credit.
1) How do I select my airline?
Before you make any purchase, you need to select the airline that you’ll be making the purchase with. When you receive your card you can go online at www.americanexpress.com/airlinechoice or call the number on the back of your card to select an eligible airline for the credit.
If you made your purchase before selecting your airline you might still be able to get the airline credit to work. I once made a purchase several hours before selecting my airline and the credit still applied. I suspect that this could be highly YMMV and that you need to select your airline ASAP after making your purchase for this to work.
2) What airlines work for the Amex airline credit?
Qualifying airlines include:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- Spirit Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
Only the Basic Card Member or Authorized Account Manager(s) on the Card Account can select the qualifying airline.
3) What is a qualifying purchase for the Amex travel credit?
You need to make a qualifying purchase using your American Express Platinum or Premier Rewards Gold Card. Purchases that qualify are for airline incidentals, such as baggage fees and in-flight entertainment.
American Express officially states that the following qualify for the airline credit:
- Checked baggage fees (including overweight/oversize)
- 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
The following items are explicitly excluded:
- Airline tickets
- Mileage points purchases or mileage points transfer fees
- Gift cards
- Duty–free purchases
- Award tickets
I personally think Amex is way too strict on what they allow to qualify for a purchase, especially since they already restrict you to choose a single qualifying airline. However, some people still have luck purchasing excluded items like gift cards and even cheap airline tickets.
It’s best to do some research on FlyerTalk to see what the most current qualifying purchases are for a respective airline since it can differ dramatically between airlines. FlyerTalk has individual threads for different airlines with specific breakdowns of the different types of purchases that were successful and it usually provides a date that they were last successful. For example, here is the latest thread on United Airlines purchases.
What works and what doesn’t changes a lot so always stay up to date on the relevant thread before going forward with a purchase that might be excluded by the terms and conditions.
4) How long does it take for the Amex travel credit to apply?
Amex states that you’ll receive a statement credit covering those fees, typically 2–4 weeks after you pay for them. In reality these credits usually only take a couple of days to hit my account. (In some cases, it’s almost like a back-log occurs and it takes longer.)
If you do not see a credit for a qualifying incidental purchase on your eligible Card after 4 weeks, simply call the number on the back of your Card. Note that if you’ve used your credit for a purchase that is excluded by the terms and conditions, it’s obviously not the wisest move to call in and inquire about that purchase.
5) Can authorized users use the Amex travel credit?
Yes, eligible purchases made by both the Basic and any Additional Card Members are covered. However, statement credits for eligible purchases can’t exceed $200 on the Card account per calendar year.
6) Can I change my airline for the Amex travel credit?
Card Members who have not chosen one qualifying airline will be able to do so at any time. So if this is your first time to have a card with an airline credit, you shouldn’t have an issue being able to select your airline at any time during the year.
Card Members who have already selected one qualifying airline will be able to change their choice one time each year in January at www.americanexpress.com/airlinechoice or by calling the number on the back of the Card. So if you already had a Platinum Card or Premier Rewards Gold Card then you would only have the month of January of the next year to change your airline. If you do not select a new airline or change it then your airline selection will remain with their current airline.
While the terms state you only have the month of January to make a change to your airline, Amex will often allow you to change your airline in the middle of the year. Some people have even had success changing their airline after they’ve used a portion of their airline credit!
To change your airline, you could use the chat feature on their website or you could just call into the number on the back of your card. I would prefer to call in on the number and just try to “charm” an agent into making the change. It’s possible that they might tell you that they can’t change your airline but if that occurs, simply call back and try again with another representative. Eventually you should have success.
I wouldn’t rely on this method more than once, though, as they might not be as understanding if you’re calling in to change your airline every other month of the year.
Overall, the Amex airline credits are a bit more strict than I would like but if you know to be a little bit crafty when using them, they can be a little more valuable.
H-Town based Attorney turned credit card rewards expert. Founder of UponArriving.com.