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My AmEx Platinum costs me $550 a year, but I cut the fee nearly in half by taking advantage of a hugely valuable perk

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The Platinum Card from American Express is one of my favorite credit cards, even despite its $550 annual fee. With an annual fee that high, though, the benefits better be worth it! In my option, they are, and that’s why I keep this card around.

One of the easiest ways to offset a good part of the $550 annual fee each year is through the AmEx Platinum’s annual airline credit. Each year, cardholders are eligible to have up to $200 in airline fees reimbursed. If these are fees you would pay each year anyway, it effectively brings the annual fee down to $350.

But, before you get too excited, it’s important to fully understand how this benefit works.

First off, before you can use your annual airline fee credit, you must select which airline you would like the benefit to apply to. Unfortunately, it has to be one airline, and it is not possible to change your selection midway through the year.

This does somewhat reduce the usefulness of this benefit, but it can still go a long way toward offsetting the annual fee. You airline options include United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Alaska Airlines.

Technically, the airline fee credit applies only to airline fee incidentals. These incidentals include checked bag fees, seat selection fees, onboard food and beverage purchases, and ticket change and cancellation fees. More types of purchases may be included as an incidental fee, but it depends on the airline. The TPG Lounge Facebook Group is a great place to check to see what has been counting for other people at any given time.

The AmEx Platinum‘s airline fee credit is not supposed to apply to ticket purchases, upgrades, or gift cards, but in some cases it has been possible to use the credit for airline gift cards that are then used to purchase airfare. For a few years, I would use my AmEx Platinum fee credit for American Airlines gift cards instead of incidentals.

As of 2019, this is no longer working for American Airlines. I have instead switched my designated airline to Southwest and have elected to get Southwest gift cards for the time being, though this could also stop working at any time — because, again, the fee credit is intended to be used for fees like checked bag fees and ticket change and cancellation fees.

And even when we’re no longer able to buy gift cards with the airline fee credit, it will still be a quick way to offset nearly half the annual fee.

Learn more about the AmEx Platinum from our partner The Points Guy »

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