2018 Amex Airline Fee Credit Strategy and Data Points

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Happy 2018! We are rounding out a great week-long family trip to Seattle and Whistler (that I can’t wait to share) and we should be back to a normal routine in the coming days, but since it is a new year I wanted to offer a quick reminder that with the new year comes a new opportunity to use your annual Amex airline fee credits. The Platinum Card® from American Express awards an annual airline fee credit and the Premier Rewards Gold Card awards a $100 annual airline fee credit.


First, you will want to select your Amex airline for 2018, though I’d read through this post and think carefully about that choice before just clicking on the airline you fly the most frequently. If you have elite status on the airline you fly the most frequently where you get free checked bags and waived change fees, you may do better selecting a secondary airline for the fee credits. Additionally, it can be useful to read some reports of what types of charges typically get reimbursed with each airline as that does vary based on how things code.

Of course, the intent and terms of these airline fee credits is to use them for incidental airline fees such as checked bag fees, change fees, on-board beverages, etc. However, “off-label” the credits sometimes cover more than that, so now that a new year is upon us, let’s look at recent reports of what the credits have been covering beyond the obvious airline fees. Remember that since we are now talking about somewhat off-label uses, these examples are not guaranteed to work 100% of the time and I don’t recommend complaining to Amex if it doesn’t work in your case as these are uses beyond the prescribed scope of the credits.

2018 Amex Airline Fee Credit Data Points

Based on some very handy linked Flyertalk threads and data points, here are some recent Amex airline fee credit updates.

In most cases you have a better chance of off-label success with smaller transactions than larger transactions.

Our 2018 Amex Airline Credit Strategy

I have selected United as our Amex airline for years and years, but I’m not sure that I will for 2018 since the United gift registry page is still down and they don’t sell gift cards. We fly them enough that we probably could just use the fee credit for its intended purpose throughout the year, but I like instant gratification and the ability to go ahead and use up the credit sooner rather than later, so we may instead select Southwest or Delta as we have been booking flights on those airlines and gift cards seem to be counting just fine with those airlines.

I’ll most likely give United a few more weeks to see if their gift registry comes back online or we encounter some fees we need to pay to kick off the year, but before too much time goes by I may just select a different airline for this year’s Amex Platinum airline fee credit and buy a couple gift cards then not have to worry about it the rest of the year.

What is your 2018 Amex Platinum airline fee credit strategy?

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  1. Just picked Alaska for my 2018 AMEX Platinum to cover fees when we fly to Hawaii this summer, using the AMEX points I converted to Avios to book the flights, of course.

  2. Do all of the airline gift cards limit gift card use to payment for flights (and not other expenses, like baggage fees, onboard snacks, etc.)? What about upgrades? What about taxes and fees on award travel?

  3. If I recall, the airline you choose for incidentals has to be the same airline that you use for the 35% points back if you have the Platinum card and book through the amx website, correct?

  4. Why does Amex make it so difficult to use their airline credit? Every other premium card is much easier to use. If not for the hoops to use the airline credit, and the point refund, I probably would have signed up for this already.

  5. Just bought a $50 e-gift card on Delta to test. It shows as a pending purchase on Delta Air Lines. Will let you know if I get reimbursed.

    • I bought 50.00 Delta Gift Cards the beginning of the year and found that I can only use them for air travel. I switched to buying 50.00 Delta Vacation Cards from Delta Vacations, a related but different entity. I can use them for a vacation package when I reach the 200k limit for using miles on packages. Both methods qualified for the airline credit if no higher than 50.00.

  6. My strategy: $800 in Southwest GC across 3 Platinums and 2 Premier Golds.

    We live at a Southwest hub. Southwest GCs work for taxes and fees as well as tickets, so they will get us around internationally as well as across the US. Our companion pass will double their value on most flights. Tickets can be booked and cancelled with no fees. If there is a sale that reduces the ticket price, the ticket can be changed and the discount credited. Hawaii is coming this year.

    Meanwhile, the other most useful contestant (Alaska, United) are not working.

    It is not a hard choice for us.

      • Agree, we have my first SWCP and it is cheap, but we don’t need to fly that much anymore. We like to take long vacations now with less flying. It would save SW time and money if they just assigned seats. Less people would cancel and rebook at cheaper prices if they already picked their seat and didn’t want to loose it. SW is stressful. We have more flights to book on SW so we are using the credit on SW.

  7. What about buying a cheap ticket on Alaska Air and cancelling it within the 24 hour window? Will that work for Amex Plat or PRG? I happened to buy a ticket last year and cancelled it within the 24 hours and rebooked it at the cheaper price. CitiPrestige used the more expensive, first purchase to give the travel credit even though it clearly showed that it had been refunded. The refund used up the credit for the year so the rebooked ticket wasn’t applied.

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