Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the top premium travel credit cards on the market, but also one of the most expensive.
The card’s annual fee is substantially higher than other cards. Still, it also comes with an extensive list of benefits like airport lounge access, Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy hotel elite status, major bonus earnings on flights booked with airlines, and much more.
While the card’s fee may seem like a shocker at first, it’s not so bad when you take a look at the multiple statement credits offered, including an airline incidental credit of up to $200 (enrollment required).
Many travelers often aren’t sure how to take advantage of the airline incidental credit and what it can cover. After all, it doesn’t let you cover paid plane tickets but does let you cover other fees incurred from an airline — whether inflight or at the airport.
In this article, you’ll finally get clarity as to precisely what the Amex Platinum card’s airline incidental credit is and your best options for redeeming your card’s $200 annual credit. After all, what use is a benefit if you don’t know how to use it, right?
The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 125k (or 150k) points with the Amex Platinum. The current public offer is 80,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)
According to American Express, this credit will be used to cover inflight expenses on your selected airline. Some of the items American Express lists as eligible for reimbursement include inflight refreshments and checked bag fees. Airline tickets, gift cards, and points or miles purchases aren’t eligible for reimbursement.
Here’s what the terms and conditions have to say:
“Incidental airline fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline are not eligible for statement credits. 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. The airline must submit the charge under the appropriate merchant code, industry code, or required service or product identifier for the charge to be recognized as an incidental air travel fee.”
Once you’ve selected your airline, you can charge these expenses to your Amex Platinum card. You’ll automatically be reimbursed in the form of a statement credit within 6 to 8 weeks of the charge posting to your account.
If the statement credit has not posted after 8 weeks from the date of purchase, it is best to call the number on the back of the card.
Hot Tip: You receive the airline incidental once per calendar year. The credit is dispersed on January 1st each year and doesn’t roll over.
Unlike the Chase Sapphire Reserve®‘s $300 travel credit, you’re limited to using your Amex Platinum card’s incidental fee credit on a single airline. You can select your airline when you receive your card and change it once per year in January. However, we at Upgraded Points have had luck changing the airline more than once when chatting (nicely) with an American Express representative.
You can pick from the following airlines:
You must select an airline before you can use the airline incidental credit. Charges made to your account before choosing an airline are not eligible for reimbursement, so select your airline as soon as you receive your Amex Platinum card and have a trip booked.
Thankfully, selecting your Amex Platinum card airline choice is easy. Just head over to the American Express website, log in, and select your Amex Platinum card (should you have more than 1 American Express card).
Click on the Rewards & Benefits tab on the bar at the top of the screen. And then click on the Benefits tab.
Here, you’ll see the balance of your Airline Fee Credit — how much you’ve used and how much you have left.
Scroll down the page for a list of benefits included with your Amex Platinum card. There will be an option labeled $200 Airline Fee Credit. Click on the Learn More button, and from there you can select your airline using the drop-down menu at the center of the screen.
As mentioned earlier, the Amex Platinum card’s airline incidental fee credit cannot be used toward plane tickets, points purchases, or gift cards.
Frustrating, yes. But, thankfully, there are still plenty of great ways that you can spend the credit over the year.
Here are our favorite ways of utilizing the flight credit. We’ve split this section into 2 parts: official and unofficial ways to redeem the incidental fee credit.
While the Amex Platinum card includes extensive lounge access, it doesn’t include access to all of the U.S. carrier’s lounges. You can use your Amex Platinum card’s credit to buy day passes to:
Just remember, you have to select the applicable airline for the lounge charge to be covered. So if you choose Delta as your preferred airline, your charges to the Admirals Club won’t be covered by your incidental fees.
United American and American Airlines both sell day passes, which could be an option if you don’t have access to a lounge on a long layover. You must be flying with the airline to have lounge access.
Hot Tip: If you purchase an annual lounge membership with your Amex Platinum card that costs more than $200, you’ll be credited the entirety of the incidental fee credit at once. So, in this case, you can think of it as a $200 discount on your lounge membership of choice.
Further, note that Amex Platinum cardmembers do not receive complimentary guest access at Delta Sky Clubs. However, guest access can be purchased for $50 for a standard day pass. If you purchase Delta Sky Club guest access and Delta is selected as your Amex Platinum card’s airline, you will be reimbursed for your entry fee.
Changing a trip’s date can be expensive, but your Amex Platinum card’s incidental fee credit covers the itinerary change fee. Note that the incidental fee will not likely cover the airfare difference as this is often charged like a plane ticket.
Hot Tip: Want more information on airline change fees? Learn how to avoid airline change fees in our dedicated article.
So you planned on checking a bag, but it isn’t included with your ticket? Just charge it to your Amex Platinum card. This is especially helpful if you’ve selected a low-cost carrier, such as Spirit, as your airline, as these carriers generally charge more for baggage. Remember that the incidental fee credit only covers baggage fees on your selected airline.
Most airlines have a co-branded credit card that provides perks such as free checked baggage. If you carry an airline’s co-branded credit card, check if that card provides free checked baggage. This allows you to use your Amex airline incidental fee credit elsewhere.
The incidental fee credit covers inflight entertainment fees including TV, movies, and tablet rentals charged directly by the airline. A good example of this is renting an Alaska Airlines entertainment tablet in flight. The airline charges a fee to rent these in economy class.
Unfortunately, this does not cover inflight internet, as a third party generally bills this. However, we have heard of United inflight entertainment being reimbursed, as it is usually charged by United directly. Proceed with caution, though, as there’s no guarantee it will be refunded.
Most other inflight purchases are covered, too. Think amenities like headphones, blankets on budget carriers, food, and drink. The airline almost always charges for these directly, and you’re automatically reimbursed for them by your Amex Platinum card’s incidental fee credit.
Seat selection fees are another great way to redeem your airline incidental fee credit. You can use this when flying low-cost carriers or on a basic economy fare that doesn’t include free seat selection. Note that this does include things like Even More Space seating on JetBlue and Economy Plus on United Airlines.
Most airlines charge anywhere from $10 up to $50 for a seat assignment on domestic flights.
If you’re taking a furry companion with you, use your Amex Platinum card’s incidental credit to cover the pet fee. This can take out a nice chunk of your reimbursement, though — for example, JetBlue charges $125 per one-way flight.
You can usually avoid these by booking online, but there may be instances where you need to call to book an award ticket or a flight with special routing. If you can’t get the agent to waive this fee, your Amex Platinum card’s incidental fee credit should cover it.
Priority boarding purchases work on virtually all airlines. This can be especially valuable when flying Southwest Airlines, as it gives you first dibs on the best seats. Again, remember that the incidental fees only cover priority boarding fees on your selected airline.
The methods below are ways our team members have either tried or seen work for other travelers. Proceed with caution. There’s no guarantee that these will work for you, too. While we try to keep this section as up-to-date as possible, these things can change on a dime, and we can’t be held liable for a charge not being reimbursed.
This might be the easiest unofficial way to use your Amex incidental fee credit. United’s TravelBank allows you to fund the account with cash to use on future United flights. Any money you put in your TravelBank account does not expire for 5 years, provided there is account activity at least every 18 months.
You can fund your account in different increments up to $1,000. However, it is best to fund with how much you have available with your credit. You need to make sure United is selected as your preferred airline.
A number of American Airlines Admirals Club locations have premium food and drink available for purchase. American Express has reimbursed these purchases, as they’re billed directly by American Airlines.
Unfortunately, we don’t have data for purchases at other lounges at this time. Again, proceed with caution.
There are reports of Delta tickets purchased partially with a gift card being reimbursed by American Express. This is because, when the purchase processes, it adds an “additional collection” to the transaction instead of listing an airline route, like most airfare purchases.
This means that American Express sees the transaction as if it were some sort of add-on or other inflight expense. However, this is not officially supported, and American Express may choose not to honor your incidental credit for this purchase.
We’ve seen reports of below-$99 fares on Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue being reimbursed by the incidental fee credit. But again, this is very much something you would try at your own risk, as the purchase will code as airfare.
Spirit Airlines has a members-only discount club called Spirit Saver$ Club. It provides access to discounted tickets and includes other perks but has an annual fee.
We’ve seen reports of Spirit Saver$ Club memberships being reimbursed by American Express. Definitely keep this in mind if you’re a frequent flyer on this ultra-low-cost carrier, as it can save you a nice sum of money as you travel throughout the year.
Our team has had the $5.60 TSA passenger security fee reimbursed on multiple award tickets in the past.
Now that you have a full list of things that do (or might) trigger the airline incidental fee credit, here’s a quick look at the things that don’t trigger this credit.
Aside from the $5.60 TSA security fee mentioned above, our team has not had luck having other award fees reimbursed. This is likely because these purchases code as airfare when posted to your American Express card.
Airline gift card purchases were a longtime favorite for redeeming the airline incidental fee credit. However, as of this summer, our team has had no luck getting these reimbursed.
Cabin upgrades are not eligible for reimbursement.
As mentioned, inflight Wi-Fi generally does not trigger the incidental fee credit, as a third party like Gogo or Panasonic usually bills it. However, we’ve seen reports of United Airlines Wi-Fi purchases being reimbursed because United does bill Wi-Fi purchases on its own or if you purchase the service through the airline before your flight.
While American Express states that it will reimburse eligible charges within 4 weeks, some charges don’t make it through the system. If you’re not reimbursed for an eligible charge, you can call the number on the back of your card or use the American Express live chat service to request reimbursement.
While the Amex Platinum card’s airline incidental fee credit is limited compared to travel credits offered by other premium credit cards, it still provides a ton of value. It has gotten hard to use the credits, but there are still ways to get the total value.
When you use the methods listed above, you’ll save money and have a better travel experience with extra checked bags, lounge access, and more. Better yet, the airline incidental credit can help offset the hefty annual fee of the Amex Platinum card.
The American Express airline incidental fee credit allows you to receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged to your account. You must select a qualifying airline before you can use the airline incidental credit.
No, the airline incidental fee credits are up to $200 per account per calendar year.
Generally speaking, no. The terms and conditions prohibit this, and it has not worked in practice for a majority of Amex Platinum cardholders. However, there are reports of fares of $99 or below triggering the credit when you book on certain airlines.
No, you must use the entirety of the incidental fee credit before the end of a calendar year. Otherwise, the credit expires.
You receive $200 per year in incidental fee credit. The credit renews on January 1 of the new calendar year.
Yes, you will still earn points on reimbursed purchases.
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