The American Express Platinum charge card offers $200 in airline reimbursements each calendar year; calendar year – not card membership year. Here’s why this was important to me last January as well this this one, January 2014.
I signed up for the card, which was offering a 100,00 Membership Rewards signup bonus, in early January 2013. That alone made the card worth signing up for, even with the annual fee. 100,000 miles can get me four flights to Hawaii from Los Angeles or San Francisco or I could travel to Montreal from New York eleven weekends in a row. Yes, eleven. Even with recent award chart inflation, 100,000 points is still a lot of points!
On top of that one of the actual benefits of the card, besides the signup bonus, is that AmEx will reimburse you for up to $200 worth of incidentals on a number of US airlines – baggage fees, drinks, seat upgrades, lounge passes, etc. By reading this thread, I was able to find out that I could “hack” this reimbursement and purchased a $200 United gift card, which was reimbursed three days after the purchase. In essence, I got $200 for free. You could also, of course, argue that instead it was not free since the annual fee was $450, but I look at that sum as the cost of the 100,000 points, instead. I figured that I would probably fly United either to Denver or San Francisco later that year, so I was pretty happy to receive the reimbursement, which goes as a statement credit on your AmEx bill. I ended up using the gift certificate for a trip to Austin, lowering the cost from an expensive $350 to a much more manageable $150, which is the perfect cost for a three-day weekend flight.
This year, the thread left informed me that I had to hack deeper. I had to set up a TravelBank registry with United – think of a wedding registry that only accepts cash for travel on United Airlines and Star Alliance partners. Once the registry is set up, you have to send an email out to friends and family (and randos if you really are desperate to go somewhere) that notifies them you have a registry and that they can contribute to it.
It’s pretty easy to close the loop – you can either make a new email account or use the one associated with your MileagePlus membership an send the invitation email to that account. I used my regular email, although I read of folks online making new email accounts to be less traceable to United, although since United’s computers are still recovering from the debacle that was and continues to be the merger with Continental, I doubted that United would catch a trick like this.
Anyway, I had to wait about 4 days, but i eventually saw on my statement that the two, separate $100 donations had been fully reimbursed!
Now, read closely, because so far this month with AmEx, I’m really in the black. Since I haven’t yet paid the $450 annual fee, which I believe will be due in my February statement, this $200 is free and clear. I could cancel the card tomorrow and still have the $200 in my United registry – AmEx can’t claw it back. Additionally, I recently posted that AmEx threw me 15,000 Membership Rewards to not cancel the card. Well, my most recent billing statement just closed and the points posted, so I could transfer those to any one of AmEx’s travel partners – British Airways, for instance – and AmEx wouldn’t be able to claw those points back, either, if I canceled! I value those points somewhere between $175-200, so in effect, I’m up almost $400 this month. Plus, if I opt to keep the card, I have another $200 coming my way in May for American Airlines incidentals due to the loss of lounge access.
I’m really at a quandary, here, on what to do with regards to cancellation, so I will probably do what I always have done and do my best Oliver Twist, although I’m hoping it’s taken a bit better than in the below video.
If you have the Platinum card, read my previous posts and get cracking on what you deserve! If AmEx is going to continue to hand out points and money, it would be remiss of me not to recommend you take it!