[UPDATE as of 6/25/2019, 2:30 pm Central time – Numerous data points found in Comments to the Doctor of Credit article we referenced in this article as well as in this FlyerTalk thread indicate that, after 6/14/2019, AA GCs consistently have not triggered the Amex airline fee credit. This is consistent with our own experience as reported in this article.]
For several years leading up to 2019, it was possible to redeem the airline fee credit offered as a benefit of several Amex cards (personal & business Platinum cards; personal Gold card; Hilton Aspire) by choosing American Airlines (AA) as your preferred airline and then purchasing AA gift cards (GCs) through the AA website. This was an extremely useful way to cash in the credits and receive face value or close to it.
But then, as of that fateful day of February 8, 2019, AA GCs stopped triggering the Amex airline fee credit. The coding for the charge changed – from “Misc Fees/Taxes” to “Gift Certificate” – in a way that stopped the credit from applying. In fairness, the express terms and conditions of the Amex airline fee credit had always excluded GCs. But they had worked for a long time until 2/8/19.
Fast forward to last Friday, June 14, 2019. On that date, Doctor of Credit posted an article that AA GCs were again working to trigger the Amex airline fee credit:
- Doctor of Credit: American Airlines Gift Cards are again Working to Trigger Amex Travel Incidental Credit (6/14/2019)
We were excited to hear about this apparent change. Most pertinently for us, we had just upgraded an Amex Hilton Ascend card to an Aspire, and thus we had a fresh new $250 airline fee credit to use sometime during the remainder of 2019.
To be clear – We are not criticizing Doctor of Credit or their article in any way here. The DoC article was based on two presumably reliable data points. And in the body of the article, DoC made clear that we “need to wait for more confirmations” before concluding that AA GCs would indeed be an option for the airline fee credit going forward.
Our Own Experiment with Purchasing an AA GC to Try to Trigger the Airline Fee Credit
Buoyed by DoC’s article, we decided to experiment by purchasing a $100 AA GC on our newly-upgraded Aspire card on Saturday, June 15. We purchased a Virtual Gift Card at https://giftcards.aa.com, just as we’d done many times in the pre-2/8/19 past to trigger the airline fee credit.
Unfortunately, as of mid-day on Tuesday, June 18, we have not received any airline fee credit for this charge.
At this point, we don’t expect to receive any credit, either. The charge for the AA GC clearly coded as “Gift Certificate”:[At the time we’re writing this article, the “Benefits” page for our Aspire card is not working. Thus, at the moment, we’re unable to check whether our credit meter still shows $250 credit remaining for 2019.]
Our experience seems to be consistent with that of others. By our count, there are at least 7 additional data points in the comments to the 6/14/19 Doctor of Credit article where people have purchased AA GCs that have not triggered the credit (and some commenters expressly mentioned that the purchase coded as “Gift Certificate” like ours). There are no data points from 6/14 or later in the comments to the DoC article where an AA GC purchase did trigger the credit. [
UPDATE as of 6/18/2019 at 2:10 pm (shortly after we published this article) – the DoC comments now show 1 data point where a person purchased an AA GC on 6/16/19 and the “Benefits” credit meter shows that the credit has been used; however that commenter has not actually received a credit yet. Maybe there’s hope of success yet.]
For comparison purposes, here’s how an AA GC purchase from earlier this year coded with Amex (on a Platinum card) – “Miscellaneous Tax(s)/Fee(s)”:
At this point, we’re calling this experiment a failure. Of course, we’ll report back if anything changes.
What Do We Do Going Forward?
By coincidence, last week we published an article about Amex airline fee credits. This article was motivated by our recent upgrade from Ascend to Aspire and the need to use a new $250 airline fee credit during the remainder of 2019.
- Middle Age Miles: Do Cheap AA Flights Really Trigger Amex Airline Fee Credits? (6/11/2019)
In that article, we presented the results of our research on what types of AA charges may trigger the airline fee credit. There are definitely some positive data points of cheap AA tickets triggering the credit. We concluded that the results were inconclusive, and YMMV (your mileage may vary). But there was enough support that we vowed to experiment with cheap AA tickets (either directly, or by reducing the charge by applying GCs to part of the fare). At this point, we will continue that experiment and report back as we obtain results.
In addition, our research revealed data points that these types of AA charges triggered the Amex airline fee credit: (1) the cash portion of miles + cash upgrades; (2) purchasing AA miles using the “Mileage Multiplier” offered when purchasing a ticket through AA.com; and (3) the purchase of an Admiral’s Club membership.
Do you have any other recent data points (6/14/19 or later) on whether the purchase of AA GCs has triggered the Amex airline fee credit? We appreciate it if you’d share them in the Comments!
At Middle Age Miles, we love to bring you travel, credit card and points-and-miles information that you can use to help make your travel dreams come true. To see all of our tips and insights, please Like and follow us on social media at:
Please share and re-tweet our posts and tell all of your friends about Middle Age Miles! Thank you!