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The Amex Platinum Card: How To Best Use Your $200 Airline Credit [Every Year]

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Andrew Kunesh

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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?

Amex Platinum Card – Snapshot

BEST LOUNGE ACCESS
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
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The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.

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The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
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$1,760
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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.

Pros
  • The best airport lounge access out of any card (by far) — enjoy access to over 1,400 worldwide lounges, including the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and many more!
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year)
  • 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • $695 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Airline credit does not cover airfare (only incidentals like checked bags)
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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American Express Membership Rewards

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.)

What Is the Amex Platinum Card’s Airline Incidental Credit?

Both the Amex Platinum card and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offer a $200 airline incidental fee credit upon enrollment.

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.

Selecting an Airline for Your Airline Incidental Credit

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:

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

Amex Platinum Rewards Benefits Page
Image Credit: American Express

Here, you’ll see the balance of your Airline Fee Credit — how much you’ve used and how much you have left.

Amex Platinum Airline Fee Credit
Log into your American Express account to find the $200 airline fee credit. Image Credit: American Express

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.

Amex Platinum Airline Fee Credit Airline
You can find all other credits online as well. Image Credit: American Express

The Best Ways To Use Your Airline Incidental Fee Credit

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.

Official Ways To Redeem the Incidental Fee Credit

Passenger walking into Admirals Club
You can use your airline incidental fee credit to purchase day passes to the American Airlines Admirals Club. Image Credit: American Airlines

Airport Lounge Day Passes and Annual Memberships

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.

Change Fees

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. 

Checked Baggage Fees

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.

Inflight Entertainment Fees

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.

Inflight Amenities

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

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.

Pet Flight Fees

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.

Phone Booking Fees

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

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.

Unofficial Ways To Redeem the Incidental Fee Credit

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.

Fill Your United TravelBank Account

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.

Admirals Club Food or Drink Purchases

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.

Delta Airfare Purchased Partially With a Gift Card

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.

Airfare of $99 or Below on Certain Airlines

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 Saver$ Club Memberships

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.

$5.60 TSA Passenger Security Fee on Award Tickets

Our team has had the $5.60 TSA passenger security fee reimbursed on multiple award tickets in the past.

Purchases That Do Not Trigger the Airline Incidental Credit

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.

Award Taxes and Fees

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

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.

Class of Service Upgrades

Cabin upgrades are not eligible for reimbursement.

Inflight Wi-Fi

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.

What if My Purchase Isn’t Automatically Reimbursed?

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the American Express airline fee credit?

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.

Do authorized users get additional airline incidental fee credits?

No, the airline incidental fee credits are up to $200 per account per calendar year.

Can I use my airline incidental credit toward airfare?

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.

Can I cash out my incidental fee credit if I don't use it?

No, you must use the entirety of the incidental fee credit before the end of a calendar year. Otherwise, the credit expires.

When does the airline incidental credit renew?

You receive $200 per year in incidental fee credit. The credit renews on January 1 of the new calendar year.

Will I earn points on purchases reimbursed by the incidental fee credit?

Yes, you will still earn points on reimbursed purchases.

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About Andrew Kunesh

Andrew was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and now splits his time between Chicago and New York City.

He’s a lifelong traveler and took his first solo trip to San Francisco at the age of 16. Fast forward a few years, and Andrew now travels just over 100,000 miles a year, with over 25 countries, 10 business class products, and 2 airline statuses (United and Alaska) under his belt. Andrew formerly worked for The Points Guy and is now Senior Money Editor at CNN Underscored.

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