A New Year Of Amex Airline Fee Credits

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards
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Happy 2019! There are many things I don’t like about the new year on the miles & points front, including my elite status being reset with most programs.

One of the positive things about the start of the new year, though, is that American Express airline fee credits are also reset. One of those is the airline fee credits that are offered by several American Express credit cards. Based on the credit cards that I have, this is an opportunity to get hundreds of dollars of value per year.

Just as I posted a reminder last week that it was your last chance to use them for 2018, this is your reminder that you can now start using them for 2019.

What are Amex airline fee credits?

Credit cards offer a variety of benefits, and in the case of several American Express cards, one of those is an annual airline fee credit. The credit is intended to be used towards airline fees (as the name suggests), and for many of us, benefits like this help offset the annual fees on cards.

What’s the validity for Amex airline fee credits?

In the case of all American Express credit cards offering airline fee credits, the validity is based on the calendar year. This is a strict calendar year definition, so it’s not like some cards, where it’s based on your cardmember year, or other cards, where it’s valid through your last statement closing date in December.

With Amex, airline fee credits are valid January 1 through December 31, and it’s a “use it or lose it” situation.

Which airlines are eligible for the Amex airline fee credit?

You can designate one of the following airlines as your airline of choice for this benefit:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

Which Amex cards come with airline fee credits?

The following cards offer airline fee credits, in the following increments:

What can the Amex airline fee credit be used for?

Per the terms, the annual airline credit can be used for purchases made directly with airlines, excluding the following:

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 you can see, this excludes a ton of stuff. Anecdotally, however, many report having luck purchasing airline gift cards and having those reimbursed.

For example, I recently purchased $250 in American Airlines gift cards (two $100 gift cards and one $50 gift card — the key is that you buy them in small increments), and they were automatically reimbursed a couple of days later (which consistently seems to be how quickly they post, in my experience).

The American Express forum on FlyerTalk has individual threads dedicated to reimbursement reports for each airline, including AlaskaAmerican, Delta, HawaiianJetBlueSouthwest, and United.

Those threads should be a useful resource for figuring out what exactly is and isn’t reimbursable, though just keep in mind that this can always change.

Do you need to register to take advantage of Amex airline fee credits?

Your eligible airline purchase should be automatically reimbursed when charged to a qualifying card, assuming you’ve designated an airline for this benefit. Each year you have to designate an airline for your airline fee credit, which can be done at this link. You can change your designated airline once per year, in January, so you can now change your designated airline, if you’d like.


If you already designated an airline last year, that will be the default one this year, so if you want to keep it you don’t have to do anything. But if you haven’t designated an airline in the past or want to change your selection, you’ll want to go to the above link to edit it.

Keep in mind that for The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, the airline you choose is the same one for which you’ll get 35% off when redeeming points with the “Pay With Points” feature. So you’ll want to choose your airline carefully.

Bottom line

While I hate when the year “resets” in terms of elite status, I do love picking up new annual airline fee credits thanks to the Amex credit cards I have. If you have any of the above Amex cards, you can go ahead and start taking advantage of your 2019 credits.

Based on my three cards with credits, I’m getting $650 worth of airline fee credits, and that doesn’t even account for the cards that my family members have.

If you’ve just recently picked up an Amex card, make sure you designate an airline and then use the credit.

Do you plan on redeeming your 2019 Amex airline fee credits soon?

Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card has been collected independently by One Mile at a Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).

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  1. @Lucky

    any recommendations for United purchases without taking a flight since the United TravelBank is no longer a option? are United LoungePasses eligible for the credit?

  2. Will it apply retroactively? So if I just used Amex gold on AA bag fees, and designate AA tmw, will those fees be reimbursed? Or does this only apply to fees going forward?

  3. I have the Platinum Amex and I did what i have done in the past – bought Gift Cards from Delta. I checked and no reimbursement on this item (but yes on a $8 drink I bought a day later). I went back and looked at the coding on the charge and AMEX lists it as “passenger ticket” vs “inflight charges” for my drink

  4. Same question as @Allyson. Just bought an AA GC but forgot to choose AA as my designated airline for my new (Rose) Gold Card

  5. I just noticed that Saks has an egift card option for $25+ . Anyone know if these are eligible for reimbursement?

  6. @Allyson and @Ron, unfortunately no. You had to have had your airline selected first. BUT, you can still get your AA gift cards reimbursed (just make sure it is for $100 or less each). You’ll even earn 3x MR pts (with Amex Gold personal) on them! So it’s worth it even if you never use your gift cards.

  7. How to you check what your balance is? I am a Platinum card holder and wanted to check online how much, if anything at all, I have used.

  8. @Ron @Tax

    FYI – I called AMex and the agent manually reimbursed the old ones, even though I didn’t have an airline selected at the time of purchase (but since have designated an airline). I wouldn’t count on this working all the time, but I happened to get a pretty kind phone agent.

    I also bought a $50 gc a few days ago and the reimbursement has not posted yet, so this may be a case of YMMV.

  9. Would be helpful for a refresher post on when the credits reset for the major cards with fee credits (Jan 1, after December statement, etc.)

  10. The $50 [email protected] gift e-cards that I bought as gifts to myself this month coded in a way that resulted in reimbursement a few days following purchase. I bought one on my phone that was different, not a gift, and it shows up as GCPurchase on my bill. That one didn’t get reimbursed.

  11. @Andy,
    I believe the folks on the flyertalk forum for United have mentioned that the Lounge pass is reimbursable. Sucks that United removed TravelBank ability to add funds via Gift Registry.

    There’s a wiki on the Flyertalk forum for Delta that mentions that if you use the mobile app, the purchase goes through Cashstar (I think that’s the name of the company) and won’t be coded properly, and as such, is not reimbursable. You have to use a Desktop (there’s a link they provide on the FT forums – you can’t even use a mobile device to use the web link either, as it’ll know you’re on a mobile browser and possibly go through Cashstar as well). Basically use a desktop or a real laptop (not a tablet) to purchase via the link provided to ensure accurate coding for Amex to reimburse.

  12. Correction to my post above:
    The Flyertalk stuff is in the American Express credit card forum section.
    Lucky’s post has the hyperlinks for the forum threads.

  13. My question is the same as Joe C’s. How do you check your balance? I think I’ve used my entire $200 credit but I’m not for certain. I suppose you have to call Amex to find out? Lame.

  14. I just purchased two Delta gift cards through the desktop website about a week ago and just got reimbursed. It coded as airfare/tickets or something like that so I didn’t think it was going to work out but it did! I sure wish they made it a little easier like everyone else but oh well…

  15. I upgraded my Hilton Ascend card to an Aspire (after being offered a 150,000 point upgrade bonus). Received the new card on Dec. 12. Purchased Southwest gift cards on the WN site for $85, $85, and $80; all were reimbursed within 4 days.

    Rinse and repeat after January 1. YAY!!!

    Does anyone know when the $250 resort credit resets??

  16. I re-routed an upcoming trip for my wife and I, and Delta charged me $300 for their trouble but Amex picked up $200 of it.

  17. Wouldn’t it be gr8 if Amex’s airline credits were automatically triggered by any airline related purchase? I wish they would emulate the way travel credits work on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, instead of having to select a US-based airline and restricting airfare as an eligible purchase.

  18. Oops.. I picked JetBlue earlier this year and only used ~$100 of it. Looks like they dont sell gift cards anymore. Any other ways to use this in the next 3 days?

  19. TexasEsq, if it is for the airline you selected at the beginning of the year, it should work up until the end of the calendar year.

  20. Many thanks for the reminder. 4x$50 certficates purchased in one transaction at delta.com (desktop, not mobile app) and reimbursed today.

  21. How long will it take for my resort credit with the Hilton Aspire to take effect? Is it usually a few days or a few weeks? I just got charged for it a day ago and I made sure I billed it to my room and paid for it with my Aspire card. The bill came all under one total charge. Thank you.

  22. Must the gift cards purchased be e-gift cards to trigger the re-imbursement? I purchased a $50 card from Delta on our desk top computer as a test, but when prompted, asked for physical card vs e-gift. Is this where I went wrong? I never was reimbursed, so did not want to risk ordering more.

  23. @ Lucky…the charge processed as Delta CSTAR GFTC. Thanks for the link, I will take a look. I’m thinking of switching our airline to Southwest, so may try again. I’m hoping the early bird fees would be covered? As these would be the only incidentals for Southwest.

  24. @Stanley. I had an Aspire credit 8+ weeks after our last hotel stay. In fact, I couldn’t even figure out why we were receiving a credit in the first place, as our last 2 nights were 2 months+ prior and not at any resort…go figure!

  25. @Joe C and @Robert D,
    To check your balance, you need to log in to your Amex account, click on BENEFITS, scroll down to airline fee section, there, you should see a graph and the remaining balace of your fee reimbursement.

  26. @Stanley. Our Aspire resort credit posted about three days after I booked a Hilton resort reservation that required a one night deposit. Same thing for an Amex Offer for a Waldorf Astoria stay–credit showed up within days after making a reservation that required a one night (refundable) deposit. We ended up canceling the Waldorf Astoria reservation a few weeks later, and the Amex Offer credit promptly showed up as reversed. So, in our experience, the Aspire card is working properly and promptly. Credits on the Citi Prestige card? Quite another matter. Sometimes takes months. Not renewing that card.

  27. Lucky – I was planning on applying for the Aspire early in 2019 (ie first week of January). From the perspective of the calendar year Airline credits, is there any reason not to apply too early in the year if you are trying to get 2x airline credits in the first year of the Aspire card. Thanks

  28. @ Aspiring — Nope, no downside. You’ll get one credit now, and then one credit right at the beginning of next year.

  29. My Amex Business Plat comes up for renewal in February. I refuse to pay $595 for this card, it just has so little value for me; they raise the price and add benefits I could care less about. Am not going to renew it. However, I would like the 2019 $200 credit before I swan off. I just changed my airline today from UA to AA, and am curious how long do I have to wait to buy the AA gift cards? UA turned out to be totally worthless for me, and I couldn’t use all of the credit for 2018. I would like to buy the $200 AA gift cards before I cancel this card. A shame, it used to be my favorite card but now I hardly use it. I use Amex Blue Business Plus or Chase for most of my travel charges (except for Hilton and SPG). The points for any Amex Plat are so low it’s not worth dealing with. I get most of the useful Plat benefits from other cards anyway. Even the Amex Gold card is more useful. Meh.

  30. If you choose Frontier, you must purchase the seat assignments and or the Den Deal subscription separately from flights, or Amex will not recognize the transaction. That is IF you chose Frontier.

  31. @Carol. I have had success with my AmEx BusPlat reimbursing the Southwest Early Bird fees. No hassle, just automatically was reimbursed.

    Incidentally, AmEx will also cover Southwest internet connection fees in flight, although I usually have to call AmEx and request it. The key is that Southwest is one of the few airlines that bill their internet access fees themselves instead of using another company. The “fine print” is important from AmEx, that the fee comes directly from the airline.

  32. I have successfully used my RC & Aspire $550 credits on AA e-gift cards. Has anyone been successful using on plastic cards (do those code differently?). Thank you

  33. I did $200 GC for AA and got credited within a few days. Switching to Delta for 2019 so will do 4 @ $50 ea

  34. Interesting update: purchased a Delta ticket on Jan 12 and applied one $50 gift card for payment. Surprise Amex reimbursement for $200 fee credit on Jan 13! Not sure if this is a change or if the fare payment was entered differently since it’s a gift card redemption. But I will take it!

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