Hilton Gold is Now an Amex Platinum Benefit, and Reports that Airline Gift Cards are Again Being Reimbursed

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American Express Platinum benefits just got better. Two news items make it worth keeping my card. They’ve added Hilton Gold status to the stable of offerings, and there are now reports that airline gift cards (under certain conditions) are again being reimbursed as part of the $200 annual airline fee credit benefit.

The Newest Addition to American Express Platinum Benefits: Hilton HHonors Gold Status

Via Doctor of Credit, Hilton HHonors Gold status is now a benefit of the American Express Platinum card. They tested this two years ago, and when it wasn’t renewed I thought the idea had died. I’m thrilled that this has been added to the card.

I stay at least 50 nights with Hyatt and with Starwood. Those are my preferred hotel chains. I prefer their properties, and I prefer their elite benefits. However Starwoods and Hyatts aren’t everywhere and I do find that there are places I’ll travel without either brand. As a result I like to have mid-tier status in a larger chain — either Hilton or Marriott. United Gold elites get Marriott Gold. You can get Hilton or Marriott Gold via credit card now.

Atrium of the Conrad New York

Hilton’s Gold status is generally good for a modest upgrade (including space available to a room with club lounge access), complimentary continental breakfast if you don’t get club lounge access, 5th night free on standard reward night bookings, and a 25% bonus on points-earned through stays.

A year ago I received comped Hilton Diamond status as an Aemrican AAdvantage Executive Platinum. I’ve been assuming that when the status year ends I would be dropped to a Base or Silver member, and would need a new way to have Hilton or Marriott status. I was contemplating this just last week. Problem solved.

Private Pool at the Conrad Koh Samui

This benefit is both for primary cardholders and for authorized users on the account. Primary cardholders can register for the benefit online. Authorized users have to call to get their Hilton status set up.
I view this benefit as being worth $95 to me, since I would otherwise pick up the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card (and keep it on an ongoing basis) in order to have Hilton Gold status.

The Latest on Airline Fee Credit Reimbursements

A month ago I reported that airline gift cards no longer appeared to be getting reimbursed under the American Express airline fee reimbursement benefit. Of course they aren’t supposed to be reimbursed, but my experience was always that in practice the online purchase of electronic gift cards did get reimbursed (my own successful experiences were with American Airlines e-gift cards).

    Reimbursement of American Airlines e-Gift Cards Earlier This Year

The Devil’s Advocate, however, reports that this seems to have been an IT glitch, and sees several reported data points that American Express is indeed reimbursing certain airline gift cards again.

It’s been a long wait, but in the last 48 hours the relevant threads on Flyertalk and Reddit have finally lit up with reports (see here, here, here, and here). And the news is what we’ve been hoping to hear.

Not only are airline fees being automatically credited again, but airline gift card purchases made within the established guidelines are also again being automatically reimbursed.

Other Great American Express Platinum Benefits

The American Express Platinum card already offers Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status, so now there’s mid-tier elite status with two hotel loyalty programs (incidentally both programs with which American Express issues a co-brand credit card). American Express Platinum also comes with National Car Rental Executive status.

The card will reimburse the $100 Global Entry application fee, or the $85 PreCheck application fee, and includes unlimited Boingo hotspot internet access.

There’s also lounge access three ways:

  • Delta lounge access for the cardholder when flying the airline same day.
  • Priority Pass Select with unlimited visits for the cardholder, provides admittance to Alaska Airlines lounges, The Club lounge locations, and a network of lounges around the world.

      The Club airport locations

  • Access to American Express’ own network of Centurion lounges including two complimentary guests or spouse and children.

Entrance to the American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco

Current locations of US American Express Centurion lounges:

Complimentary Spa at the American Express Centurion Lounge Miami

Is the Card Right for You?

If you can make use of the airline fee credit for things you would otherwise spend cash on, you’re reducing your net cost of the annual fee to an amount where many folks will get real value out of the benefits of the card.

The Platinum Card by American Express is not a strong product for points-earning. I do not think it’s good in most cases for actually spending money on. That’s because it isn’t the most valuable or even second most valuable Membership Rewards points earning card out there.

However I’ll be keeping my Platinum card for the benefits. It’s worth it to me for Centurion lounge access (Dallas is my most frequent connecting airport, multiple times a month), Hilton Gold (which I’ll need in a few months), and National Car Rental Executive status.

The airline fee credit is offered on a calendar year basis. That makes the end of a year a great time to get the card. You can use the benefit in 2015, and again at the beginning of 2016, all in your first cardmember (and annual fee) year and also reap the rest of the card’s benefits.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. slightly off topic Gary, but do you know whether the UA slush fund method works for the Chase Ritz Carlton Visa currently, or best /other alternative suggestions?

    i put $150 into the UA account, and it worked, but then when i went to do the second $150, they knocked it back, and told me “her colleague, that had processed the first $150 had made a mistake”.

  2. I’ve actually been thinking about picking up a Hilton card for the exact same reason. It’s great I no longer have to.

  3. I’ve been trying to decide whether to keep my Amex platinum delta branded card or switch to the Amex platinum card. I have the Hilton Visa card but it hasn’t done much for me. Just not sure giving up the mqms is worth the Hilton gold status . . .

  4. Another benefit that hasn’t filtered over to the UK yet, despite a comparatively higher annual fee. Boo hiss.

  5. With the new $100 airline charge on the AMEX Gold cards does anyone know if UA gift card charges get reimbursed?

  6. Gary, thanks very much for all your information!
    I’ve just been approved for the AmEx Platinum Card on 1/7/2016. Can I use the $200 airline credit this year and again in the first days of 2017 before cancelling the card on 1/6/2017 to avoid paying the annual fee?

  7. I have taken advantage of the Hilton CitiCard $40,000 spend in order to maintain Hilton honors Diamond status. Will this option be kept using Hilton Amex or does the option disappear?

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