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American Express Platinum $200 airline credit

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With a new year comes a check for American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders – the $200 airline credit.

This credit is supposed to be for airline incidentals like premium seating fees and baggage fees, but it will work just the same on airline gift cards. This is the generally easiest way to use up this credit.

Once you’ve made an airline selection on this page, that choice is permanent for the calendar year. You’ll have to wait until the following January to change airlines.

In our case, Joann selected United Airlines for 2013. Only last week did we purchase a $200 United gift card to use the credit for 2013. It was quickly reimbursed only days later.

This year, we’ll be traveling more on American, but NJ residents can’t purchase AA gift cards! Because of that snag, we kept our airline choice as United and bought a $200 gift card. We were again reimbursed a few days later. United gift cards don’t expire for 5 years so we’ll easily use it.

How To Leverage This Benefit

This $200 credit is probably one of the better recurring perks of the Platinum card. It effectively reduces the annual fee from $450 to $250, providing you were going to spend money on whichever airline’s gift card you buy.

Additionally, in the first 2 calendar years of Platinum card ownership, this $200 credit effectively reduces the annual fee to $50 since you can use per calendar year.

For example, this is/will be Joann’s timeline with the Platinum:

  • Approved for the card in February 2013
  • Paid annual fee of $450
  • Bought $200 United gift card + reimbursed the $200 days later
  • In January 2014, changed airline choice to JetBlue & buy $200 gift card. Reimbursed days later
  • Sometime in February 2014, get charged the next $450 annual fee
  • Call in to customer service to have fee waived, lessened, or just cancel the card + remove the fee.

That timeline results in only $50 of realized fees for about one year of card ownership.

That’s very much worth it if you include all the other Platinum perks like AA/US/DL/Centurion lounge access, Starwood Gold status, Hilton Gold status, National Executive Elite status, and Priority Pass lounge membership.

Couples Strategy

Piggybacking the above idea of using 2 calendar years to decreased realized annual fees to $50, a couple can effectively alternate Platinum card membership and keep the pattern going. Once Joann closes her existing Platinum card, I can open a Business Platinum.

Then I can reap the 2014 credit and the 2015 credit before my second year annual fee is charged!

After that, it’s Joann’s turn again. So on and so forth. This is a big power play in the couples credit card hustle game.

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