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Back in 2010 American Express introduced an annual airline fee credit to the their Platinum Card. That was at the same time they announced the coming end to their Continental Airlines relationship as a result of the United merger. (It was around the same time they brought on US Airways lounge access — since lost to the American merger — compensating for the loss of Continental lounges.)
Benefits come and go, recently they added Hilton Gold status as a Platinum Card benefit and of course American Express has started building their own network of lounges.
Entrance to the American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco
The airline fee credit is an interesting one, you have to select a participating airline for which to have fees reimbursed. And you can only change once a year in January. Presumably this contributes to breakage, not everyone uses their benefit.
Here are the airlines:
Fees are credited on a calendar year basis, not your cardmember year. During your first cardmember year you can thus obtain a fee credit twice.
This year the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express introduced a $100 airline fee credit and it works the same way. What’s neat is that the card has a $0 fee the first year (then $195) so you actually make money on the card in year one with this benefit.
If you’ve already selected your airline of choice, you do not need to do anything it stays the same by default. But you do need to select it a first time prior to making a qualifying purchase in order for it to be reimbursed. And you can change your 2016 selection now that it’s a new calendar year (for Premier Rewards Gold or for Platinum).
Though it isn’t supposed to work this way, in practice I have been able to have American Airlines gift cards reimbursed. For American it has to be electronic gift cards and not more than $100 (and I’ve purchased $50 gift cards using the Premier Rewards Gold card). Details on what seems to work and what doesn’t varies by airline. For instance, reports have been that $50 Delta e-gift cards have worked, though not larger amounts. And United gift registry purchases have worked, while gift cards haven’t.
As I say this isn’t how the fee reimbursement is ‘supposed to’ work, and there’s no guarantee that it will always work this way.
Citi Prestige offers a $250 airline credit that works for airfare, no machinations to go through. More costly for them to offer, less breakage.