The Key Questions to Ask Before You Panic Over a Purchase of Airline Gift Cards With an Amex Fee Credit

Airline gift cards aren’t supposed to be reimbursable with the $200 American Express fee credit. In practice, and in my own experience is that they have been. This could always change of course.

Readers will reach out to me when they try this with concerns that they won’t get reimbursed. There are (4) questions I’ll go through that seem to explain why they haven’t seen a reimbursement.

I’ll share these here, as a reminder of key elements to qualifying for the reimbursement.

  1. When did you make the purchase? (The reimbursement can take about a week)
  2. Was it an e-gift card and not a physical gift card? (Physical gift cards don’t seem to work, as I’ve noted, at least with American)
  3. Had you registered your preference for American Airlines as your preferred airline for the fee reimbursement?
  4. Did you keep the amount to $100 or less? (Larger gift card amounts may not work.)

What you want are gift cards that are (a) combinable (use more than one on a single reservation) and (b) usable by anyone (and not just a person named on the card). These two elements, and the history of successful reimbursements, are why I like American Airlines gift cards.

There have been problems with United gift cards, which leads people to make the purchase through United’s gift registry, but in my view these cards are less desirable than the flexible American Airlines ones.

And know that if you take advantage of this, as I have, that there’s never a guarantee. It could stop working tomorrow.

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, 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. Could you use multiple credits from multiple people (potentially over multiple years) to add to the same UA gift registry? That would seem to be preferable to me over a bunch of $50/100 AA gift cards…

  2. I bought 4x$50 United gift certificates on or about the 4th and I had the credit within 2 days. As far as I’m concerned the GCs are as good as cash, so if the credit didn’t post it wasn’t a big deal.

  3. My wife, my son and I all gifted $200 to my United gift registry and we were all reimbursed on our Amex Plats. Now I have $600 to use on a UA ticket as I like. It have worked perfectly for the last three years!

  4. Unless United has changed their policy recently, you can only apply a single gift card to an online flight purchase. Kind of annoying. Southwest Air lets you combine multiple credits.

  5. We have purchased $400 of Delta gift cards over 2 year period, in $100 and $50 amounts. Never received any reimbursement. Between this and only Delta SkyClubs being accessible by the cardholder, I have written off the Platinum card as being overpriced and NOT worth having. The Platinum Hotels benefit, we found has poor availability within 60 days of travel dates. The 2 for 1 First and Business class airline ticket benefit is only for full fares and never for any promotional fares. Which is the exact opposite that Amex advertises. Amex puts in “Departures” magazine that the fares are lower. When I call Platinum Travel they deny that ad exists. We also used Platinum Travel for a cruise. We were supposed to receive all kinds of benefits. Received NONE! I had to write a complaint to the CEO, then we received the on-board credit, 2 months after the cruise. I am so over the Platinum Card and its long list of “possible” benefits. It is definitely not worth $450/year for us.

  6. I got a $200 AA gift card on 1/3/15 and paid with the AMEX Platinum and waited until the statement closed 1/12 and still did not see a credit and then called AMEX CS and they said not going to get a credit and I explain it has for a couple of years now and still was told no.


  7. United Gift cards are a pain, because you can only use 1 gift card per transaction. American and Delta allow multiple — thus the United Gift Registry is much more flexible.

    Amex has stopped allowing the United Gift Registry — although it may be hit or miss based on who in India looks at your purchase.

  8. I ‘m, not really sure why anyone would panic about this. As others have said the cards are basically cash so if it’s not reimbursed, no big deal.

  9. I had no problem with any of my four United Gift Registry contributions of $50 each – two in late December and two about a week ago. All were reimbursed within a week. The balances are cumulative, so that I was able to use the entire $400 balance when I booked a ticket that exceeded this amount.

  10. Anyone in a “panic” over the $200 gift card reimbursement needs the services of a mental health professional.

    @JohnD you have nothing to lose so try the chat feature with a rep or call again.

  11. Bought 4 AlaskaAir gift certs @ 25 each. Got credit the same day. ( I had already used $100 for upgrades previously). I used the certs for Alaska tix which I was going to buy anyway, so no loss even if I had not been reimbursed. I will do the same this year. Works for me.

  12. Gary,

    I recently had a bad experience using the AA gift cards. I applied $600 in gift cards to a purchase of an expensive ticket that I bought for work. Unfortunately the receipt shows that the fare is $600 less than what it actually was rather than showing the entire fare and the two (or 7) payment forms applied. I’ve tried getting a receipt at the airport, emailed customer service, nothing seems to work. Not the end of the world, but I went to a lot of trouble to get $600 and I really don’t want to put my company accounting department through this so I’ll probably eat it.

  13. I’ve always made 2 purchases of $100 AA e-gift cards for the last three years and have always been credited by Amex within 3 days.

    AA let’s you combine multiple e-gift cards when you purchase your ticket on Annoyingly, you have to wait about 3 days to “retrieve” the card number and PIN after your purchase.

  14. I also get reimbursement on award ticket ‘fees’ as well. Recently, I charged 15 something dollars to my amex plat on an award booking, that charge was also reimbursed.

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