Maximizing the AMEX Platinum Airline Fee Credit
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Hilary Stockton
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The Mercedes-Benz AMEX Platinum offers airline fee reimbursement up to $200 per calendar year, such that if you use the fee credit now in December, you can also use another $200 fee credit in January, greatly helping to offset the steep annual $475 fee. I've been getting some quesstions about this airline fee credit since writing about the card in Which Credit Cards to Keep, Trade, Churn and Apply For), so I've put together this FAQ that I hope will help others who are also trying to maximize this benefit.

What's the Signup Bonus, Minimum Spend and Annual Fee for the Mercedes-Benz Platinum AMEX?

The Mercedes-Benz Platinum AMEX bonus is 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1000 on the card within the first 3 months. Annual fee is $475.

 

What Other Cards Should I Consider Applying For With the AMEX Platinum?

The good thing about the Mercedes-Benz Platinum AMEX compared to most other AMEX Platinum offers is the low spend requirement of just $1000 in 3 months to receive the bonus, even though the annual fee is $25 higher than the regular AMEX Platinum.

  • Ink Plus: 50,000 points for $5000 spend within the first 3 months
Since the Ink Plus doesn't charge interest for the first 6 months, you have extra time to pay off the spend--just ensure you pay minimum spend each month and can pay it off in full before the end of the 6th month, and you won't have any interest charges.
  • Ink Bold: 50,000 points for $5000 spend within the first 3 months. As a charge card, must pay in full every month

Does the Mercedes-Benz Platinum AMEX Come With the $200 Airline Fee Reimbursement?

Yes. Even though it's not explicit in the card benefits description, the Mercedes-Benz Platinum AMEX does come with the same $200 airline fee credit per calendar year that the AMEX Platinum comes with.


Do Corporate AMEX Platinum Cards Come with the Airline Fee Credit?

No, corporate cards don't have this benefit; only personal and small business AMEX Platinum cards come with the airline fee credit.


If I Have Multiple Authorized Users for My AMEX Platinum Does Each of Them Receive the Fee Credit?

No, the $200 airline fee credit is per card, not per authorized user.


What Are the Airline Partners I Can Choose From for the Airline Fee Credit?

  • AirTran (merging with Southwest)
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • Frontier
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • US Airways


What, No International Airline Partners?!

Nope, you can only select from the above US airlines for the fee credit.

 

But I Already Get Fees Included as an Elite...

That's a good reason to either choose another airline you sometimes fly but aren't elite with, or take your chances with trying to get airline gift cards reimbursed. See below.


After Selecting My Airline Partner Can I Later Change My Choice?

Generally no. Some have reported being able to change it if they haven't yet used any of the airline credit; your mileage may vary.

 

When Do I Have to Choose the Airline Partner I Want to Get Fees Reimbursed From?

If you are a new AMEX Platinum cardholder and have never before selected an airline for your fee credit, you may select it at any time. If you already selected your airline, you may only change your airline partner choice in January; otherwise you will remain with the airline partner you previously selected.


Where Do I Select the Airline Partner and Enroll?

You can either call the number on the back of your card or go here to select the airline you want to receive up to $200 in fee credits from.


What Are Qualifying and Non Qualifying Airline Fees According to the AMEX Terms & Conditions?

Qualifying:

  • Checked baggage fees
  • Change fees on paid tickets
  • Seat assignment fees
  • Phone reservation fees
  • Airline lounge day passes and annual memberships
  • In-flight purchases charged by the airline (e.g. food, beverages, pillows, headsets etc. but NOT third party fees such as Gogo WiFi)

Non-Qualifying:

  • Airline tickets
  • Upgrades
  • Mileage points purchases
  • Mileage points transfer fees
  • Gift cards
  • Third party transactions, such as WiFi
  • Duty free purchases
  • Award tickets

 

What Actually Gets Reimbursed?

In practice, many cardholders have been able to get airline gift cards reimbursed, especially in smaller denominations. But keep in mind that usually only one gift cards is allowed per transaction. Here are some examples of what has recently (within the past month) been reimbursed, although keep in mind that your mileage may vary, and you won't have recourse to AMEX if you don't get reimbursed because officially these purchases don't qualify for the fee credit.

The airlines that folks have had most success with getting gift cards reimbursed are American Airlines and United Airlines (8/14 update: now gift registry only for United Airlines). I would avoid selecting most of the other airlines for your airline fee credit for these reasons:

  • AirTran: Doesn't sell gift cards, and Southwest, which AirTran is merging with, is sporadic with gift card reimbursement (and not many incidental fees).
  • Delta: Gift cards have to be bought at the airport (!) although if you actually have officially qualifying incidental charges such as change fees, checked bag fees, etc. go ahead and choose
  • Frontier: Haven't heard of successful gift card reimbursement
  • JetBlue: Haven't heard of successful JetBlue gift card reimbursement
  • Spirit: Haven't heard of successful gift card reimbursement

American Airlines Gift Cards Recently Reimbursed

See the last pages of this Flyertalk thread for these and other examples

  • Bought a $100 AA gift card and $75 AA gift card on 12/9/12, credited on 12/12/12 (dagrin, Flyertalk)
  • Bought $50 AA gift card 12/9/12, credited 12/12/12 (mcdullhk88, Flyertalk)
  • Bought 2 x $50 AA gift cards 12/8/12, credited 12/12/12 (SJC AA, Flyertalk)
  • Bought 2 x $100 AA gift cards 12/3 or 12/4, credited 12/7/12 (Rock Harders, Flyertalk)

 

8/14 Update: United Airlines Won't Reimburse Gift Cards, But Gift Registry Still Works

See the last pages of this Flyertalk thread for

  • Set up a United gift registry for yourself when you're logged in using United MileagePlus.
  • Next, access United from an incognito window or from a different browser and search for your United gift registry by name.
  • Use your AMEX Platinum card to pay.
  • 8/4/14 Recent example of Flyertalker darrvao777 who got reimbursed: "Got the statement credit today ($200), thanks to everyone for reporting their experiences! :-)"

How Soon Do the Fees Get Reimbursed?
 
Typically within 2-4 days, although sometimes it can take a few weeks. Call AMEX if your fee doesn't get reimbursed, but realize that if you purchased gift cards you don't have any recourse, since per the official terms they aren't eligible. If you paid for change fees, seat assignments, in-flight food, baggage fees, airline lounge membership or anything else that officially qualifies, there should be no problem getting AMEX to manually credit you.
 
 
Where Can I Buy United Airlines Gift Cards, and What Are The Terms?

 
Click the Terms & Conditions tab to view the terms. Key points:
  • Nonrefundable purchase
  • Expires after 5 years
  • Not valid in conjunction with other programs, such as MileagePlus award travel
  • Redeemable only on united.com U.S. booking engine
  • Valid for United Airlines and United Express flights only
  • Only one gift certificate may be used per transaction
 
Where Can I Buy American Airlines Gift Cards, and What Are the Terms?

Select the "Virtual Gift Cards" option so that you can receive them via email.
 
 
Click Terms & Conditions link to view terms. Key points:
  • Gift cards have no value until activated; virtual gift cards activated 72 hours after purchase
  • Up to 8 gift cards may be redeemed in a single transaction or purchase
  • Gift cards may NOT be used for products/services sold separately such as upgrades, Club membership or day passes, baggage fees, pet fees, phone reservation fees, award travel fees
  • Valid for paid flights on American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection, oneworld and AA codehare flights for itineraries sold and originating in the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Are Award Taxes and Fees Reimbursed?
Officially, as per AMEX terms and conditions, no. In practice, some Flyertalk posters have received reimbursement (see, for example, der_saeufer who got reimbursed in June 2012), some haven't. Count yourself fortunate if you do get reimbursed, but realize you have no recourse with AMEX if you don't get reimbursed for award taxes or fees.
 
 
Do you have tips to share or other questions about maximizing the AMEX Platinum airline fee credit?
 
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