Hacking the American Express Airline Fee Credit Benefit

There's a airline trolling section on the blog now? OMG!There's a airline trolling section on the blog now? OMG!

You will soon see why there is a picture of my cat atop this article.

The American Express Platinum card is one of the higher annual fee credit cards out there (at $450), but it comes with a number of amazing benefits. Here’s a brief rundown:

  • A 40,000 mile signup bonus (note that there are often special offers via which you can get as high as 100,000)
  • Access to Centurion Lounges, Airspace Lounges, and Delta Skyclubs (note that you only get the SkyClub benefit when departing on a Delta flight)
  • Priority Pass membership
  • Global Entry fee credit
  • 400 dollar airline fee credit for your first year, and a 200 dollar credit every year after

This post will focus on the last benefit I mentioned: the airline fee credit. Now, in principle, this credit can be used towards things like inflight meal purchases, wifi, lounge access, or entertainment. But there is a way to use this fee credit for Amazon gift cards, which can, in turn, be used to buy other stuff.

The way to do this is simple:

  • Select United as the airline you want to use your fee credits on (note that this selection only holds for the current calendar year)
  • Log onto the United Airlines Mileage Plus shopping app (or download it if you don’t already have it)
  • Use the menu to find the “Online Merchants” section and then select Amazon
  • Press the “Pay Now” button
  • Enter the gift card value you want to buy
  • Enter your AmEx information (card number, etc.)
  • Pay
  • Sit back and wait for your credit to post on your American Express account

Say you buy a $20 Amazon gift card. Follow the steps above and you should see a $20 credit post to your American Express account, meaning the purchase of the gift card was free. You can then use this free gift card to buy more stuff!

Like a new sofa.

Or a person’s soul (they do sell those on Amazon, apparently).

Or fake depleted Uranium (they sell that too).

Or an app which delivers the latest memes featuring Fluffy the Cat straight to your phone.


Okay, I made the last thing up.

But why does this work? Well, for some reason, United classifies Mileage Plus gift card purchases as “special service tickets,” which is a category which qualifies for the airline fee credit.

This is an awesome way to get some free stuff. Period.



About the Author

I'm Alex, and I am an enthusiast in all things travel: miles and points, airplanes, airline products, and more. On this blog, you can read my take on recent travel/ commercial aviation news, trip reports, ramblings, rants, and opinions, and I'll even share some of my aviation photography from time to time. Hope you enjoy reading, and happy travels!