Amex Airline Fee Reimbursements. What still works?

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Several American Express cards offer annual airline fee reimbursements. These reimbursements can go a long way towards easing the sting of the high annual fees charged by personal Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cards. Readers often wonder which types of charges will trigger these credits and/or which methods still work. When purchases work to trigger credits, those credits typically appear automatically within 2 to 21 days from purchase. Don’t panic if you made a purchase a week or two ago and haven’t yet seen any credits yet — the data points in this post provide a solid guideline for what is likely to work. If something is listed as working, it very likely still works; we’ll be sure to change it as soon as we have verified negative datapoints. On that note, reader input is always appreciated. Please share your data points in the comments.

What’s new? We’ve added a summary table showing typical things that work or don’t work with each airline.

a woman looking at a wallet

Amex airline fee credits are offered by calendar year. For example, Platinum cardholders can get up to $200 in fee credits for charges made up until December of this year, and $200 more for charges made next calendar year.

Step 1 is to make sure that you’ve selected a preferred airline here. Officially, you can change this selection once per year in January (if you don’t change it, your previous selection remains in place). Anecdotally, chat agents are usually willing to help you change your selected airline if you need to do so during the year.

Step 2 is to make qualifying purchases with your airline of choice in order to get reimbursed.

Things you need to know about Amex airline fee credits

A few helpful notes for airline incidental credits:

  1. Be sure to select your chosen airline at least one calendar day before attempting to use the credit. We sometimes see a lag before eligible charges are credited. Waiting for the email confirming that you’ve selected an airline is not always enough.
  2. Wait at least 2 weeks before assuming failure. While credits often post within a few days and/or the benefit counter typically moves before the credits post, there are frequently periods where things post more slowly than usual. Wait at least two weeks before attempting a different charge, contacting Amex, or reporting a negative data point.
  3. Charges are reimbursed based on the date of charge and count toward the allotment for the year in which the charge is dated. For example, a charge that posts to your statement dated December 29, 2024 will count against your 2024 airline incidental credit even if the charge itself doesn’t reimburse until early 2025. However, don’t wait until the very last minute — Nick once charged United club passes late at night on 12/31 and the charge posted with a 1/1 date and he missed using the airline incidental credits for the intended year.
  4. While Amex officially says that you can change your airline once each year in January, chat agents are often willing to change it for you if you ask nicely, even mid-year (and sometimes even if you’ve used part of the credit already).

What purchases count… officially?

Eligible incidental fees include:

  • Checked baggage fees (including overweight/oversize)
  • Itinerary change fees
  • Phone reservation fees
  • Pet flight fees
  • Seat assignment fees
  • In-flight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, headphones)
  • In-flight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet because it’s not charged by the airline)
  • Airport lounge day passes & annual memberships

And, officially, the following purchases are not deemed to be incidental fees:

  • Airline tickets
  • Upgrades
  • Mileage points purchases
  • Mileage points transfer fees
  • Gift cards
  • Duty free purchases
  • Award tickets

What purchases count… unofficially?

Sometimes purchases of upgrades, award fees, or even low-cost airfare are reimbursed even though they shouldn’t be. In some cases there seem to be maximum dollar limits. The things that work or don’t work vary by airline and over time. Something that worked in the past won’t necessarily work today.

Summary Table

The following table shows a summary of the major unofficial stuff that works or doesn’t work with each airline that can be chosen as your preferred airline. Cells are blank where we don’t have enough data to indicate one way or the other.

AA Alaska1 Delta Hawaiian JetBlue Southwest Spirit United
Cheap Airfare Mixed No Yes, under $50 Yes, under $150 Yes, under $109 No
Airfare + Airline Credit or Gift Card Mixed Results Yes Yes, max ~$2502,3 Yes, max $502 Yes, max $1002 Yes No
Award Fees Mixed Results Yes, under $200 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paid Upgrade Yes Mixed Results Yes Yes Mixed Results Mixed Results
Buy Airline Gift Card or Airline Credit No No No No No No Yes, via TravelBank

1) Sometimes Alaska purchases do not credit automatically. After 2 weeks, you may have success requesting credit from Amex (try the online chat function).
2) By splitting the cost of a ticket between airline travel credits or airline gift cards and a small cash component, the cash component sometimes is treated as a reimbursable fee. In these cases there is often a maximum amount for the cash component to be treated this way.
3) Paying part of a ticket with miles no longer works.

For additional data with each airline, see below…

Alaska Airlines

**Note** Since 2022, there have been many reports of Alaska charges not being reimbursed automatically. It seems that many have had success getting charges for premium seat selection and things that ordinarily should be included (like lounge access, onboard purchases, etc) manually credited via the chat function, but only after 2 weeks has passed since the transaction date. Historical Alaska data included below, but beware that you may need to chat and hope for a friendly agent. See more data in this Flyertalk thread.

What works to trigger Amex airline incidental credits on Alaska Airlines?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Award redeposit fee $125 (x 2 passengers) 6/19. Had to call as it did not post automatically (via Flyertalk)
Fare difference Price increase if $9 and $50. 12/20 (ykz1991)
Seat selection • $65 PC seat selection (automatic) 12/20 (safari ari)
• $45 & $49 seat upgrade 12/20 (Grant)
• $149 PC seat selection (via chat). 12/20 (bbmatt)
• $99 PC seat selection (via chat) 12/20 (EddyRoad)
Club Membership 7/19. Had to call to get it to post (Randy)
Split Airfare Purchase
  • 7/2023: Wallet funds + $29.90 charged to Platinum card. (Kyle)
  • 9/6/22: $250 airfare paid with $101 in wallet funds and $149 charged to Aspire card (Summit).
  • $149 ticket paid with $50 gift card and $99 charged to card (Camilla)
Airfare purchase $58.10 & $78.10 saver fares (note previous failure reports below; YMMV) 12/20 (Grant)
Upgrade
  • 11/2023: Four $38.99 upgrades from saver to main, but note that the credit wasn’t automatic. Chat rep credited manually. (Anu)
  • 11/2023: Four $40 seat upgrades from row 9 to row 3 (first). Not automatic – manually credited by chat representative. (Anu)
Change fee 12/2023: $330 in change fees split over two transactions. Manually credited via chat. (Flyertalk)

What fails?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Airfare under $100
Via BK250:
• 8/3/19: $63.30, reimbursed 8/7
• 8/9/19: $54.30, not reimbursed
• 8/19/19: $63.30, not reimbursed
• 9/12/19: $68.80, not reimbursed
• 6/22/20: $49, not reimbursed (PeterSFO)
E-gift card • Gift card purchases stopped working summer 2017
• $50 10/28/17

• $25 8/6/17
Split Airfare • $138 two tickets for $69 each on card + $25 Alasksa gift card not reimbursed 1/22 (Lrdx)
• 1/22 (Victor)
In-flight snacks 1/22 (Victor)

American

What works to trigger Amex airline incidental credits on American Airlines?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Split airfare purchase $107.60 ticket purchased with $60 flight credit + $47.60 on Platinum card 7/22 (redtop43 on flyertalkbut see negative data point in “What fails” section below also
In-flight food & beverage $18 in drinks 8/22 (FallenPlat on flyertalk)
Seat selection • Main Cabin Extra purchased online ($138). 8/22 (Nick)
• Main Cabin Extra purchased at kiosk. 12/20 (durial)
• First Class upgrade purchased at kiosk 12/20 (durial)
Admirals Club • Day pass 12/20 (durial)
• Food / bar tab 12/20 (durial)
Physical Gift card $50 or less 12/9/17: Note that we are doubtful this still works, but did not uncover a direct data point.
5 Star Service $325 3/21/17
Mileage Multiplier
Unaccompanied minor fee 8/2022 (John)
Award taxes** **Note that award taxes and fees are not consistently reimbursed. See “What fails” for negative data points.
9/2022: $11.20 x 2 (Robert)
Status Buyback Buyback for Gold status triggered credit (reader report on Youtube)

AA What fails?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Split airfare $200 ticket using $140 trip credit and $60 on Platinum card 9/22 (lowkeyflyer on flyertalk)
E-gift card Gift card purchases stopped working for many around February / March 2019. It just depends on how AA codes the purchase (coded as a gift certificate will not trigger the credit) and we have not been able to determine a way to predict how it will code. We had some positive reports in February, but most data points from mid-February onward have been negative.
$75 close-in fee 7/15/19 (Dan P)
Award taxes Reports here are inconsistent. Most fail, but there are some reports of fees being reimbursed (see this 5/22 report from merlin90 on flyertalk)
September to December 2023: Several charges not credited (Vito)
8/2022: $64 did not credit (Nick)
6/2022: $5.60 did not credit (Mark)
Paid Upgrade
  • February 2024: Upgrade to first class not credited (Saul)
  • December 2023: Upgrade to Premium Economy not credited (Vito)

Delta

What works to trigger Amex airline incidental credits on Delta Air Lines?

What Works? Recent Reports
Award fees under $200
Lounge guest pass 5/2022: $39 (Jeff)
Companion Ticket Taxes 8/9/20: $20.20 (Greg)
Mileage Booster 10/2019: $59 (Patrick)
Change Fee
  • 12/16/23: Upgrade to Comfort+ by changing flights (Flyertalk)
  • 12/9/22: Changed ticket to a more expensive one (Greg)
Split Airfare Purchase
  • Early 2024: $171 worked, $287 didn’t work (Cameron)
  • 12/29/23: credit card ($189.40) and eticket (Greg)
  • 12/2023: $100 gift card + $208 charged to Platinum card (Flyertalk)
  • 11/2023: $50 gift card + $198.90 charged to Platinum card. (Ariel Manning)
  • 7/14/23: Multiple tickets split between airline credits plus credit card all posted (Greg)
  • 7/2023: $218.90 ticket split between $88.90 in eCredits and $130 on Platinum card (Toffee)
  • 2/2022: $733 ticket split between $500 gift card + $233 on Platinum card (Satellite)
  • 8/3/22: $297.20 ticket split between $50 gift card and $247.20 on Platinum card triggered $200 incidental credit (SoloDolo on flyertalk)
In-flight WiFi** 8/2022: Viasat charge triggered the credit (fold on flyertalk), but reports are that GoGo Internet charges will not trigger credit
Airfare 1/20/22: $120 (Mel), but note that Greg has what appears to be a negative data point in 12/2022
Upgrade to Comfort Plus (YMMV) $200 Used the “change flight” function to switch to Comfort Plus 8/22 (hereitgoes)
$169 (Patrick) YMMV: Not automatic, reimbursed via chat 1/21

Delta What fails?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Cheap airfare 12/6/22: $78.60. Note that the cost to change to a more expensive ticket type did get reimbursed. (Greg)
Split airfare with pay with miles
  • 9/28/23: eticket and $258 (Captain Greg)
  • 3/24/23: $418.6 ticket: 5000 miles for $50 credit plus $368.90 charged to card did not trigger the credit (Cameron)
  • 4/3/23: split ticket: $252.80 + 5000 miles didn’t work (Greg)
Award fees over $200
eGift cards As per many reports at Flyertalk, this likely died around 6/22/19
Economy Plus Upgrade
7/12/19 (Arlington Traveler)

Frontier

Frontier is no longer an option to select for Amex airline fee credits.

Hawaiian

What works to trigger Amex airline incidental credits on Hawaiian Airlines?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Airfare under $50
Extra comfort upgrade
Food & beverage on board Success reported 10/18 (via Flyertalk)
Seat upgrade $10 (Michael) 1/21
Split payment for airfare w/ less than $50 charged to the card $29.80 & $44 11/18 (via Flyertalk)
Award taxes

Hawaiian What fails?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Gift cards $50 7/19/17 (via Flyertalk)
Airfare over $50 $53 10/17 (via Flyertalk)

JetBlue

What works to trigger Amex airline incidental credits on JetBlue?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Airfare under $150?
Award taxes / fees
Cancellation fees $75 7/19 (via Flyertalk)
Seat selection $5 11/20 (financialhippie)
Upgrade from Mint to Mint Studio $199 6/22 (fishccy on flyertalk)
Even More Space upgrade $35, $50 1/19 (via Flyertalk)

JetBlue what fails?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Airfare over $150 • $151.10 9/20 (Earthgoeshard)
• $250 1/11/17 (via Flyertalk)
Gift cards They don’t sell them

Southwest

Note: Starting in 2023, credits for Southwest charges have been posting slowly, with some data points stretching as long as 3 weeks from the charge date. If you’re nervous about whether a charge is going to post, you could always consider making another charge for a fully refundable “anytime” fare under $109. Then, if your originally-intended use of the credit works, cancel your backup anytime fare for a refund. If your originally intended use fails, the sub-$109 airfare purchase will likely work. Inter-island Hawaii flights are a good place to look for those types of prices.

What works to trigger Amex airline incidental credits on Southwest Airlines?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Airfare under $109
  • Early 2024: $90.01, $78.71 (Ren)
  • 1/4/24: 2X $98.98 tickets (Daniel)
  • 1/4/24: 2X $93.98 (jared)
  • 12/2023: 3x $68.90 (via Flyertalk)
  • 12/2023: $105.50 (via Flyertalk. Note this one took more than three weeks)
  • 12/23: 2 x $98 (via Flyertalk)
  • 9/2023: $55-$75 flights (Yana)
  • 12/17/22: $83.98 x 3 (Lrdx)
  • 11/30/22: $89.98 (Cathy)
  • 4/1/22: $98 (Harsh B)
  • 1/2021: $94 (Scott)
  • 1/2021: $71.99 & $48.99 (KKM)
  • 12/2020: $104.98 (Jed)
  • 12/20/19: $100.50 (David G)
Early bird check-in • 1/2022: $20 (Chris)
• 5/14/20: $20 (Greg)
• 9/11/19: $50 (Norm)
Award Fees
  • 12/2023: $11.20 (via Flyertalk)
  • 7/2023: Two international tickets with taxes of $108.95 on each. (Happy_Harry)
  • 1/2022: $97.76 (Dee)
  • 12/2020: $11.20 (Beth)
  • 11/2020 $70.34 (Greg)
A1-A15 boarding 12/2019: $40 (Sdin123)
Split payment for airfare w/ under $100 charged to card
  • 1/28/24 $94.74 on Amex, $30.58 on flight credit (Abraham perez)
  • 11/2023: Flight credit + Platinum charge of less than $100. Credits took 9 days. (Aaron)
  • 10/2019: $96 Used a gift card to pay part of the airfare ($42) and paid $96 remainder on Amex Gold. Got $96 credit. (Marshall Davis) Jason reported success too.
In-flight beverage 11/19 (veeRobb)
Itinerary change 5/13/22: $5 & $3.02 (Nick)
5/17/20: $66.50 (Greg)

Southwest what fails?

Purchase type Recent Reports
On-board Wi-Fi $8 charge posted, but was not credited (2/18)
$185 e-Gift card Charge posted 6/22/18, no reimbursement as of 7/9/18 (Katie)
All e-Gift cards Stopped working in June 2019 (via Flyertalk). A recent data point suggests that they may have worked since then for manual credit.
Split payment for airfare w/ $100 or more charged to card $155 (7/19) via Flyertalk
Airfare over $109 $117.14 (via Flyertalk)

Spirit

What works to trigger Amex airline incidental credits on Spirit Airlines?

 Purchase type Recent Reports
Savers Club
Big Front Seat
Partial Airfare $6 (Rest using airline credit) 12/20 (Joe Y)

Spirit what fails?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Ticket purchase $52.80 1/20 (optimilez2016)
Bags bundled with ticket purchase 1/20 (and a couple previous DPs) (s.k.d)
Big Front Seat via Upgrade Bid 7/2023: Report from Flyertalk

United

**Note that you may need to wait until the next business day after selecting United as your qualifying airline. Since TravelBank works as of 12/22, most of the other uses are less interesting.

What works to trigger Amex airline incidental credits on United Airlines?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Standard stuff Economy Plus, United Club, Pet Fee, Same Day Flight Change (Note: A charge for United Club one-time passes on December 31st posted with a date of January 1st and missed using the annual credit – Nick)
Award Fees $5.60 3/20/24, 3/24/24, 4/3/24, 4/6/24 (Megan)
Seat upgrade Made through kiosk 11/18 (Ambrosio)
Economy+ seat $132 12/23/21 (Elizabeth)
6/22/19 from Flyertalk and also $175 for transatlantic Economy+ seat in 2/19 (SKJL).$84 each (x 2) 2/20 (Matthew)
United TravelBank Note that TravelBank has stopped working and started working again several times over the past few years, so it’s always worth checking back for any new DPs here before making a purchase.
In-flight WiFi
  • 4/24 (jaime)
  • 12/19/22: $8 in-flight WiFi (Nick)
  • 11/2020 (atat)
In-flight F&B
  • 11/26/23: $10 snacks x 4
  • 12/18/22: $10.99 snack box (Nick)

United what fails?

Purchase type Recent Reports
Upgrade from economy to first class
$175 charge on 12/27/2018 may have been too large to look like a fee
Split payment with GC and airfare under $100 $50.19 partial ticket payment did not trigger credit 3/26/22 (Captain Greg)
MileagePlus X App Purchases
United Gift Registry This doesn’t really fail — it’s just no longer available
Award Fees This appears to have stopped working according to a DP from JB in San Diego from October 2019.
Gift Card
$99 Upgrade Fee 2016
In-Flight Wifi United WiFi purchase on flight operated by SKYWEST DBA UNITED EXPRESS did not result in credit as purchase description was not “United Airlines”, but was “UAL INFLT WIFIONBOAR…” 12/2023 (Steve

 

Please report your results!

If you try any unofficial options, please let us know via the comments whether it worked. Tell us the date of purchase, what you purchased, the dollar amount, and whether or not you were reimbursed. Please do not report purchases that are officially reimbursed unless you do not get the credit.

What to do if you’re not reimbursed?

First, double check that you picked the airline in question as your preferred airline. If you did not, then Amex won’t reimburse you (but they have been known to make an exception if you call and say that you forgot to set your preferred airline).

If you do not get reimbursed for things that are officially allowed (checked bags, change fees, lounge fees, etc.), then contact Amex for help. If you do not get reimbursed for things that are not officially allowed (gift cards, award fees, airfare, etc.) do not contact Amex. You weren’t really supposed to get reimbursed for those anyway.

Other cards that offer fee reimbursements

Quite a few other cards offer airline fee reimbursements. And, in most cases, the things that work for Amex cards as listed above will work with other cards too.

There are a few that are very different though, so we have dedicated posts for these:

  • Chase Ritz Card: With this card, unlike Amex cards, you have to contact Chase to request reimbursement after you’ve made an eligible charge. As a result, what works and what doesn’t is solely at the discretion of the person who handles your request. For details, see: Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa airline fee credits: What works?
  • US Bank Altitude Reserve: This card offers a very different type of reimbursement for travel expenses. When you set up your account for “Real Time Mobile Rewards,” you can use your card to purchase travel directly and then redeem points for 1.5 cents each to offset those travel charges. See: US Bank Real-Time Mobile Rewards. What works where?
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actualmichael

Can confirm that the additional collections trick (by using a gift card towards part of your ticket cost to get Delta to charge the remaining amount to your card as “additional collections” instead of airfare) still works with Delta. I just bought two tickets (on separate Platinums) in August of this year, and the tickets triggered the credit on both my consumer Plat and Biz Plat

Jarrett

Do you mean April of this year?

Daniel A

DP: Southwest cheap flights worked.
4/21/24 – SW flight purchases – 3 transactions $85, $79, $39
4/21/24 – received the $200 credit

Brian

Can confirm on Spirit Airlines that if you bid for the big front seats via Upgrade Bid, it does NOT get credited back via Amex. Just did it a couple weeks ago and Amex did not reimburse.

Bill Smith

I got credited back $50 ($30 + $20) for early-bird check-in in May so that one still seems to be fairly reliable

John

United TravelBank $100 purchase AMEX Plat. June 2, 2024, reimbursed June 5th.

Last edited 5 days ago by John
Ian

I just bought a $50 delta gift card. Bought a 249 flight and used the $50 gift card. Then paid the rest with my reserve card, using the GC made the credit card payment the secondary transaction so I was credited 199 and then canceled the flight and got an e credit.

Kaza

My two Southwest flights for $99.## each were reimbursed in 2 days couple of months ago.

Last edited 6 days ago by Kaza
Kiki

5/27 $100 United travel bank and 6/1/24. Reimbursement 3 days later

Kiki

$100 on 6/1/24 UTbank

Danny

Are only US airlines eligible or can you designate other carriers?

Rich

I got cheap tickets on swest 2 different times under $100 and both were reimbursed. This was in April.

Tina

United travel bank 2 separate transactions of $100 may 28, 2024. Reimbursed on may 31. Amex platinum

Last edited 10 days ago by Tina
Megan

Completely by accident I triggered the Amex Airline incidental credit for United by paying the $5.60 tax on an award booking.

3/20/24: 2 $5.60 charges
3/24/24: 2 $5.60 Amex Airline Incidental credits posted

4/3/24: $5.60 charge
4/6/24: $5.60 Amex Airline Incidental credit posted

I normally do my UA Travel Bank loads very close to the beginning of the year, but this year was dragging my feet on doing it in case I wanted to switch airlines. So while I’ve put other UA award ticket taxes on my Amex Plat in other years, it was always after I had already used up the $200.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Great datapoints. Thanks!

Milestofreedom

Heard this from a chat agent for Alaska:
Here are the eligible charges included in incidental fees:

Airport lounge day passes and annual memberships
Change fees
Checked baggage fees
Early check-in fees
In-flight:
Amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, and so on)
Entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet)
Overweight/oversize baggage fees
Pet flight fees
Phone reservation fees
Seat assignment fees
Unaccompanied minor fees

Jerry

4/7/24 UA Travel Bank $100 – credited 4/10/24
4/12/24 UA Travel Bank $100 – credited 4/15/24
Amex Platinum Business

[…] on Alaska Airlines in January and the credits had not posted in the following 2 months.  I went to Frequent Miler’s Amex Airline Fee Reimbursements. What still works? post and scrolled down to the Alaska Airlines section.  There was a note that […]