Amex Eliminates Airline Fee Credit for Gift Card Purchases Amex Eliminates Airline Fee Credit for Gift Card Purchases

Amex Eliminates Airline Fee Credit for Gift Card Purchases

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In its efforts to cut costs, American Express closed a loophole that allowed cardholders to use their airline fee credit to reimburse gift cards purchased directly from the airline. Although the terms and conditions have always stated that gift cards are excluded from the credit, this had never been enforced for gift cards purchased in small denominations.

Reports first surfaced last month that Delta and Southwest gift-card purchases had stopped being reimbursed, and now American Airlines purchases are no longer triggering the credit. As far as we know this policy now applies to all airlines; however, if you know of an airline that has yet to be affected, please let us know in the comments.

Same Rules, New Enforcement

Not surprisingly, there has been no formal announcement or acknowledgment from American Express about this change. Since the gift card exclusion has always been explicitly noted in the terms and conditions, this is really a case of a new enforcement strategy rather than a policy change. On its page explaining the benefit, Amex states the following:

This benefit doesn't offer credit toward airline tickets, mileage points purchases or mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, upgrades, duty–free purchases, or award tickets

Before you can receive your fee credit, you need to select a preferred airline.

Based on data points reported on FlyerTalk—a popular points and miles forum—it seems that Amex has new systems for identifying gift-card purchases. In several cases, cardholders made two airline purchases on the same day, one of which was an eligible airline-incidental fee and the other, a gift card. Several days later, the eligible fee was classified as an airline incidental, while the gift-card purchase earned no credit at all.

Cards Affected

Although reports are still coming in, it's safe to assume this applies to all Amex credit cards that provide some form of airline incidental credit as one of its perks. Popular cards in this group include:

$250 Airline Incidentals Credit

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Annual Fee$450
Welcome Offer Earn 150,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, enjoy a Free Night Reward within your first year and every year after renewal.
  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on flights booked directly with airlines or, car rentals booked directly through select rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card

$200 Airline Incidentals Credit

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Annual Fee$695
Welcome Offer Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, 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, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership (subject to auto-renewal) with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card®. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Up Benefits are excluded.
  • $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.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $300 back in statement credits per calendar year on an Equinox membership, or an Equinox club membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required. Visit to enroll.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Breeze through security with CLEAR Plus at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Platinum Card®. Learn more.
  • $100 Global Entry Credit: 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 years for a TSA PreCheck® (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, 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 on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $300 SoulCycle At-Home Bike Credit: Get a $300 statement credit for the purchase of a SoulCycle at-home bike with your Platinum Card®. An Equinox+ subscription is required to purchase a SoulCycle at-home bike and access SoulCycle content. Must charge full price of bike in one transaction. Shipping available in the contiguous U.S. only. 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.
  • Rates & Fees
  • Earn 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year).
  • Earn 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Annual Fee$695
Welcome Offer Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that's an extra half point per dollar) on each eligible purchase at US construction material, hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees charged by your one selected, qualifying airline to your Card.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Use your card and get up to $189 in statement credits per calendar year on your CLEAR® Plus Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Business Platinum Card®.
  • 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.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on
  • Earn 1.5X Membership Rewards® points on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more.
  • Earn 1.5X Membership Rewards® points on each eligible purchase with U.S. construction material and hardware suppliers.
  • Earn 1.5X Membership Rewards® points on each eligible purchase with U.S. electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers.
  • Earn 1.5X Membership Rewards® points on each eligible purchase with U.S. shipping providers.
  • 1.5X earning rates are subject to a cap of $2 million in purchases per calendar year.

Our Take

This is disappointing news, and it takes a little of the shine off Amex cards offering these fee credits. When you consider that card issuers paid out 22.6 billion in travel rewards in 2016 (and Amex reported a 36% increase in rewards costs that year), it's not surprising they've stepped up their enforcement of the existing rules.  For many, it shouldn't be hard to burn through these credits—there's no shortage of “legitimate fees” like checked bags that should trigger a reimbursement. But Amex knows many won't bother to keep track.

If you add your Membership Rewards account to AwardWallet, you'll see your remaining Amex airline fee credit (and expiration date if you're an AwardWallet Plus member) in your list of accounts.


Looking for a card with premium benefits and an easy-to-use airline fee credit? The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a $300 travel credit that gets automatically reimbursed for any travel purchase.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual Fee$550
Welcome Bonus Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Chase's flagship Ultimate Rewards card. You get a $300 travel credit, airport lounge access courtesy of a Priority Pass membership and industry-leading travel insurance benefits. New cardholders earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
  • Member FDIC
  • 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • 10X points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase
  • 10X points on Chase Dining (including prepaid reservations and prepaid takeout purchased through Chase)
  • 5X points on airfare purchased through Chase
  • 3X points on all other travel
  • 3X points on dining at restaurants
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Source: Doctor of Credit

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)

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  • Time to start buying some cocktails in economy! 🙂 lol

  • Danny Nguyen says:

    It’s time to switch to the CSR. What advantage is there really left for the Amex Plat? The CSR is also primary car insurance coverage for car rentals.

  • hmmm, thats a hidden benefit thats no longer available

  • Thoughts on using the credit for Delta mileage booster instead?

    • Better than nothing? I’m thinking of doing the same with AA mileage boost. But going to wait until closer to end of the year to see if I can use it on another fee I’m going to pay anyway.

  • Sorry to see this go but it was kind of expected, eventually

  • Personally, I felt like it was bound to happen…

  • This is a major blow, I’m going to have to think twice about the value I’m getting from my Amex cards.

  • Ouch. Looks like credit card companies are starting to tighten their belts a bit.

  • That is it. Now it will be Chase Sapphire Reserve for me.

  • Darn — I think this is the last straw for me. The Amex fee was already hard to justify, but I rarely spend anything on airline incidentals, so keeping Amex doesn’t make sense anymore. Chase Sapphire Preferred is just more attractive in almost every way outside of Amex Concierge.

  • This is why I prefer CSR. Straightforward credit. No BS.

  • I was certainly one of those who used to use this for gift cards. It’s disappointing but not the end of the world. It can be used for change fees for flights (I don’t need it for bag fees or seat selection since I have status.) I also have heard it might be used for pet fees if I ever need to take my cat somewhere. I was going to wait until the end of the year and if I didn’t use it by then for those types of fees, I was going to figure out some way to use it –thanks to Lee Ann, I now know I might be able to use it for mileage boost: that is definitely better than letting it go to waste!

  • no problem with them enforcing the rules as stated

  • another reason to leave amex

  • This is a huge blow. This has really offset my annual fees as I’m not traveling as much as I used to. Hopefully, we don’t continue to see other changes to the program as well.

  • Little by little they are going to tighten up

  • Terrible change. They should have let users use travel credit for any travel purchase-including airline ticket purchase on any airline.
    This credit was useless, to begin with. Amex will lose more customers.

  • Amex has announcement about the gift card exclusion which has always been in place. It is a good reminder to so that we do not get surprise.

  • I wouldn’t say fixing something that they didn’t intend to have exist in the first place is really “eliminating”.

  • Shouldn’t really “take the shine” off a card when that was never the intention of AMEX for that to be an eligible way to get reimbursed. Can’t cry that they are actually enforcing the rules. Still shouldn’t be a problem to utilize the credits if you travel at all.

  • Leonardo Cattani says:

    Really reduces the benefits 🙁

  • I think the statement in the article that most people would be able to burn/use the credit is not entirely correct. Most folks who have the platinum card are frequent travelers in which case they probably aren’t paying for baggage fees or seat fees so its pretty hard for them to use the credit. To me, this is just one of those things that doesn’t make sense as AmEx is actually punishing the frequent flyers/road warriors here who incidentally would actually put more spend on the cards.

    • Crazy right? On paper it sounds great and is great marketing but it’s so restrictive to those who don’t travel often and fairly irrelevant to those who do.

  • It’s unfortunate that you can no longer by airline gift card. With the withdrawal of PP dining perks.
    I think it’s time to cancel the AMEX and seek alternative options ?

    • At times I’ve looked into the Platinum card but I just can’t do it. It’s one of those things I want to like but the reality is it’s a terrible card for me. CSR all the way and maybe I’ll add the premium BoA travel card.

  • M
    Amex took this AND Priority Lounge Restaurants away!!!
    Not sure it’s worth keeping Aspire?

  • This was bound to happen. Typical Amex Platinum holders happily use the credit only for actual incidentals and are ok leaving some on the table every year — this change only punishes those of us pushing the edge, who Amex doesn’t particularly want anyway.

  • In response to those who feel the card is no longer worth it, let me suggest, there are still many reasons to benefit from the card, that are within the program rules! My preferred airline is Delta, the value of the card is very apparent, especially, if, you use the Sky Club when traveling. As an added bonus, the Centurion and Escape Lounges are an extra bonus. This is especially true for ONT with its excellent Escape Lounges!

    • I think that really depends on which airports you fly out of. At larger hubs, you can use other lounges or PP restaurants so for me its mostly a nice add-on but not really must have. Given the other premium cards out there, AMEX really has to justify the Platinum’s fees and this just makes it a lot harder to do

  • I only have one card this affects but it does affect me not being able to buy the gift cards. I do not need checked bag, and do not buy anything onboard – basically only seat assignment and just did that – but going from main cabin regular seat to purchasing a preferred seat – came up with Delta coding it as an upgrade and Amex does not pay for upgraded seat. I was able to call in and get the credit for it – but what a hassle if I have to do that each and every time.

    • This is a use I need out of this card now. So if paying for Economy Plus on American doesn’t trigger the credit, I can call in to have them manually do it?

  • I wish Amex could just lower the annual fees on the cards and get rid of the airline fee credits altogether.

  • Major devaluation here. Really reduces the value of the benefits

  • This is disappointing news. Guess I will use the credit on mileage boost.

    • I don’t think the credit can be used toward mileage purchases. What are you talking about specifically with mileage boost?

  • Andrew Choi says:

    I would also like to know if there are any airlines that have yet to be affected. thanks for the update on amex.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    Sad for me. I have saved a lot of money on checked bag expenses in the past.

  • I hope no one is upset over this. It was never allowed per the terms.. ya’ll just got away with it for a while.

    • This is a great point. Using the credit for gift cards was never a publicized benefit so AMEX isn’t taking anything away… this time.

      • Yes, never publicized. But, no, they are indeed taking something away, even if it’s just by closing a loophole. The proof of that is all over these comments, as folks certainly reevaluate holding the card.

        • EXACTLY! I’m upset that no notice was given! That fee was fine when I was in business and had a much higher income and I could write off expenses, I’ve hesitated to close some of my biz cards since I sold my biz because I didn’t want to shock my score and the perks on the cards are (were) good but like I said, I can’t justify the expense without the Dell and AA gift cards because I usually only use Uber abroad, rarely pay any airline fees. The CSR and Citi Prestige fees cover any incidentals I ever have so I’m looking to see when my renew date is and will probably cancel this card. They have a score checker on myfico that shows if you close an account what it does to your score so if no problems, BizPlat is a goner for me.

    • can still be upset though

    • You are 100% correct but closing a loophole still devalues the program.

  • I canceled my Amex Platinum after 20 years because it just isn’t worth it anymore. Losing Admiral’s Club for me and family was huge, and I almost cancelled then, but I could justify it with the American gift cards even though other useful benefits are mostly duplicated with my Sapphire Reserve. And the Uber credit was useless since I only need Uber when I’m overseas, which isn’t included. Raising the fee was the final straw. Simply not worth it, especially when compared to the no-hassle Sapphire reimbursement of ALL travel expense, without me having to ask for it and the 3x miles for all travel and dining. Even Centurion Club was losing its lustre as Amex lets in all Golds who pay $50 so the clubs are usually packed. I miss the AAdvantage miles, but have another card for that. Disappointing and kind of sad to cut ties with Platinum after so long, but I’m extra glad I did now that the gift card loophole is closed.

    • I would be surprised if there are a bunch of Gold’s in the lounges. $50 seems a little too much to pay for a lounge even if it is Centurion. I always thought its all the Platinum card holders filling up the lounge since its so much better than the other ones we have access to. Though definitely cancelling my Platinum when the next annual fee hits too

    • The Uber credit can be used for Uber Eats as well as rides. I don’t take Uber rides very often so my wife and I enjoy Uber Eats once a month to try different take out restaurants in the area.

  • I was certainly only a matter of time. I certainly got plenty of mileage out of this deal to be happy. And I’ll have plenty of legitimate charges going forward for this to continue to be a useful benefit.

  • This makes Amex too lucrative and restrictive to use the credits. Goodbye! CSR is now the only premium card in my wallet once the next annual fee comes due.

  • Now I’m going to have to rethink the value I’m getting from my Amex cards… Thanks for the update!

  • This was a huge dissappoment by amex. This really devalues the Aspire card that is coming up for renewal in December.

  • This really devalues amex’s benefits… I loved this benefit!

    • To be fair it wasn’t a benefit but tather a loophole. I still fully agree with you though that it certainly devalues the card.

  • Time to cancel…$550 a year was worth it with the AA gift certs and the Dell credits but without it isn’t worth the fee…have 3 cards that have priority pass

  • Pretty disappointing but shouldn’t really be surprising to anyone

  • It sounds like Amex has just updated their systems to follow their already existing policy.

  • First they go away with GCs purchases point and now this. Although there are many other perks, I’m finding less and less reasons to keep my Amex cards.

  • David Stone says:

    So what’s a good use of this credit now? I used it for Southwest gift cards before which was really nice. What do people use it for now? I already get free checked bags. In the last year of travel I haven’t had to pay incidental fees. I know people usually plan on paying them but in this case you have to pick an airline so you almost have to plan on it.

    • Exactly. If you’re a frequent traveller, chances are you have status and/or status benefits with the co-branded credit card. Amex either needs to make incidental credits apply to any airline and/or still make you select one airline but let it apply to any charge. CSR’s travel credit is so much easier – goodbye Amex.

    • In the past I have used the benefit to purchase lounge access on itineraries where I otherwise would not have had it.

  • Even though his closes a loophole, the credit still remains to not all bad news