I recently signed up for an American Express Platinum card. One of the benefits is the Amex Platinum airline fee reimbursement of up to $200 each calendar year. This is especially helpful your first year of using the card as you actually get $400 reimbursements; one for each calendar year. I applied in August so I will get $200 reimbursement in 2015 and again beginning in 2016. This just about covers the cost of the annual fee ($450) the first year.
The first step is you must choose which airline you want to use this benefit with. It is only good on one airline. You can change your airline once each year in January. You can choose the airline online through your Amex account or you can call the number on the back of your card. I chose Alaska Airlines for my Amex Platinum airline fee reimbursement for 2015.
Now, there is a big qualifier here. Unlike the Citi Prestige card, the Amex Platinum airline fee reimbursement is only good on certain incidentals charged by the airline. This is things like baggage fees and inflight food and beverage. From the terms and conditions: “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.”
As an elite member of Alaska Airline’s Mileage Plan, I already receive free checked bags and a free drink on each flight when in coach. I can only order so many cheese and fruit plates (which are delicious).
There were reports that it was possible to purchase gift certificates on Alaska (and other airlines like American if you chose to go that route) and be reimbursed. However, earlier this year, Amex stopped refunding those purchases. In fact, they seemed to stop immediately refunding any inflight incidentals.
I decided to do a little testing of the process with Alaska Airlines purchases. During my first month of using the card, I made the following purchases with my Amex Platinum:
- 2 Alaska Airlines Gift Certificates – $25 each, spread a few weeks apart
- 2 Award Booking with Miles for my trip around the world – This ended up charging a total $112.60 in taxes and $25 in fees for the two tickets
- 2 Inflight Purchase on an Alaska flight – a cheese and fruit plate and drink for a friend for $14.50 and on another flight $7.50 for a cheese and fruit plate (see, they are delicious!)
None of the purchases were reimbursed immediately. However, when my statement closed, most of the purchases were reimbursed. The only charge that was not reimbursed was the second gift certificate. My guess is that that is because this was my most recent (i.e. last) charge and it put me over the $200 reimbursement threshold for the year.
I did not try purchasing a ticket with my Amex. I doubt that would have been reimbursed but who knows.
This is definitely a case of YMMV (your mileage may vary), but for me it seems that gift certificates and award ticket tax and fees are reimbursed by Amex if you pick Alaska as your airline of choice. I will be starting over on January 1 and will do some more experimenting to see if this sticks.