How the American Express Platinum travel credit works
Both the Amex Personal Platinum and Amex Business Platinum offer a $200 annual airline fee credit. The credit is calculated based on the calendar year, meaning you get a $200 credit for January 1 through December 31 of every year (other issuers don’t use strict calendar years, but American Express does).
The cool thing is that your annual fee is billed based on your cardmember year, while your airline credit is based on the calendar year.
In other words, if you got this card now you could still get a $200 credit between now and December 31, and then another $200 credit starting January 1, for a total of $400 in credits within two weeks. That’s a great way to help offset your annual fee very quickly.
What can the travel credit be used towards?
Technically these are airline fee credits (meaning they can’t be used towards ticket purchases, etc.), which can be used for the following, per the terms & 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.
However, for years the purchase of airline gift cards has been reimbursed as well under the airline fee credit offer, assuming you purchase them in fairly small increments. If you’d like to read more experiences about using airline fee credits for various types of purchases, see the airline-specific FlyerTalk threads which cover this perk, including for Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, and United.
For example, I purchased two $100 American Airlines gift cards recently, and they both automatically reimbursed. There’s no guarantee that will continue to be the case, but that’s how it has worked up until now.
Is it too late to apply for these cards and receive the 2016 credits?
If you haven’t yet applied for the Amex Personal Platinum or Amex Business Platinum, you should still be able to apply now and get the 2016 airline fee credits. If you’re approved for either card soon then you should have the card in your possession within a week at most. Then you just have to select your preferred airline for the airline fee credit, and then make a purchase. Your purchase should be reimbursed within a couple of days.
So while you may have issues if your card approval stays “pending” for an extended period of time, most people should have no issue still getting approved for these cards and still getting the $200 airline fee credit for 2016. Then you’ll get another one as of January 1, 2017.
Why you want to get the Amex Business Platinum Card
- $200 annual airline fee credit
- Access to Boingo hotspots
- Access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
- Access to Delta SkyClubs
- Priority Pass Select membership
- Access to the American Express Centurion Lounges in Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, etc.
- A Global Entry fee credit
There are some benefits unique to both the business and personal version of the card:
- Only the Business Card offers 10 complimentary Gogo wifi passes per calendar year, which is potentially very valuable
- Only the Business Card offers up to a 35% points refund when using the “Pay With Points” option, which is essentially an opportunity to redeem your points for 1.35 cents each towards the cost of airfare
- Only the Personal Card offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines
If you apply soon for the Amex Personal Platinum or Amex Business Platinum you have good odds of still qualifying for the $200 airline fee credit for 2016, and then in under two weeks you’ll be eligible for the bonus for 2017. Both of these cards are extremely compelling, especially with the new benefits that were recently introduced on the cards.
Lastly, keep in mind that anecdotally both of these cards are pretty easy to be approved for, and applying for the business version of the card won’t apply towards Chase’s “5/24 rule.”