In 2013 I earned 665,000 miles & points from credit card sign up bonuses.
I started off the year by getting an American Express Platinum card which was offering a 100,000 Membership Rewards points sign up bonus for a limited time. Once I was approved, I confirmed my offer but had to fight with Amex for the points. In the end, Amex did the right thing and I got my 100,000 points.
Along with the bonus points comes a high annual fee of $450. To make the card a good value it also includes lounge access (which is quickly disappearing in 2014) and a yearly $200 Airline Incidentals Fee Credit.
The Airline Incidentals Fee Credit is supposed to be used towards checked bags and in-flight refreshments. However, many of us like to use the credit to buy gift cards for use on our designated airline (from their site). Just to be safe, its best not to use the $200 all at once when buying a gift card. It’s recommended to buy 4 $50 or 2 $100 gift cards.
The annual fee for 2014 should be coming up during my next billing cycle and I’ve (pretty much) recovered my $450 annual fee from the first year thanks to the Airline Fee Credits alone.
When I received my Platinum Card, I designated American Airlines as my qualifying airline. I then bought two $100 gift cards. Within a few days I got credited back $100 from each transaction thus using up my Airline Fee Credit for 2013.
For 2014 my strategy was a little different. With Lucas turning 2 over the weekend his days as a lap baby are over. Since he now needs his own ticket & seat this makes the Southwest Companion Pass a bit less valuable to us. My Companion Pass expired on 12/31 but Kim has her pass which is good until the end of 2014. Kim’s 90,000+ Rapid Rewards points will get us a bunch of trips but we will still need to buy a third ticket.
I decided to designate Southwest as my qualifying airline for the 2014 Amex Airline Fee Credit. Wondering if Amex would credit me for purchasing Southwest gift cards, I found a thread on Flyertalk about the topic. According to the thread, Amex was reimbursing card members for Southwest gift cards so I went ahead and purchased my first $100 GC on 1/4 and the reimbursement showed in my account on 1/7. I then purchased my second $100 GC on 1/8, with the reimbursement showing on 1/11!
Based on the Flyertalk thread and my success, its safe to say that Southwest gift cards do count towards the Airline Fee Credit.
If you have an American Express Platinum Card and haven’t chosen a qualifying airline or would like to switch airlines for 2014, you can do so here.
For those of you with the Amex Platinum Card, how have you spent your Airline Fee Credit over the years?