One of the best perks of the American Express Platinum Card is the $200 airline fee reimbursement, which can be used to purchase gift cards from various airlines. For the past three years, I have been able to get over $600 in American Airlines gift cards, and I will explain the step-by-step process here in this blog post.
I have written about the benefits of the Platinum card from American Express before, which gives you access to the American Express Centurion Lounges, as well as Priority Pass lounges, and a host of other benefits. Even though the annual fee of the card has risen $100 since I became a cardholder in 2015, from $450 to $550, the card basically pays for itself for several reasons: you get $200 in Uber credits per year, along with Starwood Platinum Gold, Hertz Gold, Alamo Gold, 5X points accumulated on spending, lounge access, and $200 in airline credits. You can also use it to access the Delta SkyClub if you are flying on a Delta flight from an airport with a Delta SkyClub.
The $200 Airline Credit Hack
The $200 in airline credits reimbursement is one of the more unusual features of this card in that AMEX does not simply credit you back the first $200 you spend on an airline ticket with your AMEX platinum card at the start of the calendar year. Rather, it is supposedly meant to be applied towards “incidentals” i.e. ancillary charges such as baggage fees, in-flight sales, wi-fi, etc.
For many frequent fliers, this isn’t really a great perk considering how most of these services are already included in elite status perks or come with possessing an airline-branded credit card. However, if this can be used to actually purchase airline tickets, then the benefit rises substantially in value. Although the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers a similar benefit, which is $300 in annual travel reimbursement, Chase automatically credits back each expenditure for you up to $300 rather than give you the automony to choose where you’d prefer to apply the credit, like AMEX does.
I’ve successfully managed to purchase gift cards on American Airlines for the past three years and receive reimbursement from AMEX. I simply pay for them in $100 increments using the AMEX card and then receive a reimbursement a few days later. Note that these gift cards from American never expire, so you can use them for yourself or gift them to someone else.
Now, as far as getting the fee reimbursement, purportedly, there are specific steps to follow for individual airlines in order for the reimbursement to work. I personally, have only used it on purchasing American Airlines vouchers in the past, but you can access this thread on FlyerTalk which can help you determine how to follow the steps on other airlines. Purportedly, the hack is different for each carrier, i.e. American’s will only work if the tickets are purchased in $100 increments, whereas Delta’s must be done in $50 increments, etc. Scott has used it for Alaska Airlines gift cards, often in $50 increments.
Step 1: Go to AA.com
Scroll to the bottom of the page, and under the third column, “Extras,” the second row will contain a link to, “Gift cards” which will open in a new tab for you to fill out the information.
Step 2: Choose, “Virtual Gift Cards.”
You shouldn’t want to purchase a plastic gift card, as that is just silly and time-consuming. The virtual gift card can be delivered to anyone electronically, although use will be prohibited until 72 hours have passed.
Step 3: Enter in $100 as the gift card amount
Self-explanatory. Then, input your American Express Platinum Card data and submit.
Step 4: Wait ~48 Hours for AMEX to Reimburse You
The transaction will generally take two business days to process and re-appear on your statement as a $100 credit for the gift card. Now, you have a $100 gift card to use on American!
It is important to note that the 5X bonus on Membership Rewards points for this purchase is unlikely to take place because the transaction is essentially credited back to your AMEX account as if you didn’t make a $100 purchase at all. Based on The Points Guy’s January 2018 Miles and Points Valuations, 500 AMEX points are roughly $9.50, so that is the one “downside” to this offer (and obviously totals to $19 when you factor in the second $100 gift card purchased).
Still, this is a small price of admission for an otherwise incredible perk. Not to mention, the fact that these gift cards never expire means that you can save up to purchase an expensive trip, or have in-handy for a last minute emergency, such as when I had to fly from Dallas to San Francisco on American in order to make a connecting INTL flight.