Is this wise - Amex travel credits for airlines?

Old Dec 19, 19, 2:04 pm
  #1  
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Is this wise - Amex travel credits for airlines?

Not sure if this is the proper place, but here goes:

In light of the AA situation (locking accounts/closing accounts) re: Citi (and there's MANY different variants of things that were done), with AA ultimately holding the cards at what can be defined as "abuse", I have to wonder if the same situation can happen with Amex in regards to the Travel credits (airline) with their cards?

I mean we've found that a while back, some gift cards would trigger the credit.
Amex could shutdown everyone as "gaming" the system?
Same thing with the newly developed workarounds.
Rather, Amex (it seems) has figured out a way to read the proper coding of the GC purchases instead, it seems (or perhaps convinced all the airlines like DL/AA to code differently?)

But I'm wondering if "things" like this (loopholes, whatever you want to call them) are wise at this stage, now that we have a precedent for lockdowns/shutdowns (again there's MANY reasons in the AA situation, a few folks seem to have gotten the short end of the stick with "legit" SUBS).

I also know that a few folks got Hilton shutdowns for pooling points as well so I guess that can happen too (ie: P1 gets an Amex SUB, P2 also gets an Amex SUB, both P1 and P2 also purchase max # of Hilton points and then pool them to redeem for a nice expensive hotel stay).

Yes, there's a difference between creating multiple AA accounts, using non-transferrable offers, etc. I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about using things that are "loopholes" and whatnot (I think Ben @ OMAAT may call this "exploiting" the system, I dunno).

Random ramblings I guess, while I ponder upcoming calendar "reset" for my Amex.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 2:22 pm
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I guess Ben knows a thing or two about exploits (scams). Wonder if he got caught in the AA shutdown.

First of all, gift card credits for the most part are history. And then, buying a gift card with a credit card is a very common thing to do for Amex customers (Amex is pushing their own cards in the Amex Offers). If Amex is posting credit for something that it shouldn’t, how can I control that? Should I be expected to call in and ask them to remove the credit? Their terms say that only certain purchases will be reimbursed. They don’t say that I am not allowed to buy gift cards, cheap flights or cancel flights bought with the credit card. Also, even if they were to assume intentional circumvention of the T&C, it would be several orders of magnitude different from opening a new Citi card every 34 days and collecting signup bonuses for them. I am not worried.

Personally, next year I am likely going to use the credits for 100% legitimate purposes since I am dropping down to MVP on AS (so PE seats and inflight bevs are no longer free).
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Last edited by notquiteaff; Dec 19, 19 at 2:37 pm
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Old Dec 19, 19, 2:23 pm
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Originally Posted by luv2vacay View Post
Random ramblings .
Yes they are
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Old Dec 19, 19, 2:39 pm
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Food for thought, for sure.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 2:55 pm
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What would the (perceived) value of the airline credit to the median FT forum member be if it could truly only be used on incidentals and not for airfare?
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Old Dec 19, 19, 3:21 pm
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There are threads on both this forum and the Chase forum about people being shut down by the big banks. It does happen -- probably a lot more than people get shut down by airlines, given the credit risk and regulatory situation involved -- but typically banks shut people down for things much sketchier than buying gift cards to get the airline fee credit.

I'd imagine Amex is well aware that people were buying gift cards and their comment on the matter is the recent change to not have them reimbursed any more.

Amex has also taken some action against people who do various sketchy or pushing-the-limit things with sign-up bonuses, which is more akin to the AA situation, but there Amex's actions seem to be more focused on reducing the number of future sign-up bonuses such people can get, and occasionally clawing back already-issued sign-up bonuses.
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Last edited by bgriff; Dec 20, 19 at 10:18 am
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Old Dec 20, 19, 10:12 am
  #7  
mia
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The formal terms of this benefit do not define Incidental air travel fees, and no examples of qualifying expenses are mentioned in the terms (some are mentioning in marketing copy). The terms do list ineligible expenses: Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.

Inasmuch as tickets are explicitly excluded, structuring a transaction in a way that causes the airline to code airfare as an Additional Collection seems to be qualitatively different than a transaction where American Express' system mistook a small payment for a fee. I realize there could be a plausible explanation for this behavior, but I would not expect a sympathetic hearing.

Benefit is available to Consumer, Corporate Platinum, and Business Platinum Card® and Centurion® Members only. To receive statement credits of up to $200 per calendar year toward incidental air travel fees, Card Member must select one qualifying airline at www.americanexpress.com/airlinechoice. Qualifying airlines include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. Only the Basic Card Member or Authorized Account Manager(s) on the Card Account can select the qualifying airline. Card Members who have not chosen one qualifying airline will be able to do so at any time. Card Members who have already selected one qualifying airline will be able to change their choice one time each year in January at www.americanexpress.com/airlinechoice or by calling the number on the back of the Card. Card Members who do not change their airline selection will remain with their current airline. Statement Credits: Incidental air travel fees must be charged to the Card Member on the eligible Card Account for the benefit to apply. Incidental air travel fees charged by both the Basic and Additional Card Members on the eligible Card Account are eligible for statement credits. However, each Card Account is eligible for up to a total of $200 per calendar year in statement credits across all Cards on the Account. Incidental air travel fees must be separate charges from airline ticket charges. Fees not charged by the Card Member's airline of choice (e.g. wireless internet and fees incurred with airline alliance partners) do not qualify for statement credits. Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline are not eligible for statement credits. Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees. The airline must submit the charge under the appropriate merchant code, industry code, or required service or product identifier for the charge to be recognized as an incidental air travel fee. Please allow 2-4 weeks after the qualifying incidental air travel fee is charged to your Card Account for statement credit(s) to be posted to the Account. We rely on airlines to submit the correct information on airline transactions, so please call the number on the back of the Card if statement credits have not posted after 4 weeks from the date of purchase. Card Members remain responsible for timely payment of all charges. To be eligible for this benefit, Card Account(s) must be not canceled and not past due at the time of statement credit fulfillment.
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Old Dec 20, 19, 11:11 am
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
The formal terms of this benefit do not define Incidental air travel fees, and no examples of qualifying expenses are mentioned in the terms (some are mentioning in marketing copy). The terms do list ineligible expenses: Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.

Inasmuch as tickets are explicitly excluded, structuring a transaction in a way that causes the airline to code airfare as an Additional Collection seems to be qualitatively different than a transaction where American Express' system mistook a small payment for a fee. I realize there could be a plausible explanation for this behavior, but I would not expect a sympathetic hearing.
Are you thinking of structuring like this?

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/31860391-post2552.html

Originally Posted by QuoVadi View Post
12/14: Purchased $256 RT ticket using $50 Delta GC (from last year's benefits) and Amex plat, posted as "additional collection" of $206.
12/18: $200 airline credit posted.
It’s the season of giving, and many will receive the ”ultimate gift” (to steal Marriott’s pitch from a spam email encouraging me to gift travel) of travel gift cards. Bought in grocery stores, Costco, or directly from airlines. And it will be common for the lucky recipient to then later book travel and partially pay with that gift card (basically, replace “from last year’s benefits” in the above post with “from Xmas gift from grandma”).

I find it hard believe that Amex would shut down a customer that is not showing other signs of gaming the system.
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Old Dec 21, 19, 4:15 am
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In my experience, YMMV, pure speculation, etc.

Historically, Amex generally doesn't initiate adverse action when it's their mistake. The Airline GC reimbursement was something, for whatever reason, Amex never bothered to recalibrate their systems to specifically exclude. Now, in the past, there have been cases where they'll "clawback" the credit on a mistake, but that isn't unlike, say, when the Bank erroneously deposits money into your ATM. You don't get to keep the money, and if used, it must be repaid.

In my experience, Amex is very fair. While there are many activities where they're very sensitive to (MS'ing, paypal/venmo), these credits haven't been amongst them, which isn't to mean it all can't change. However, all things being equal, I'd say there's an almost zero chance a cardmember would suffer adverse action simply from "fooling" their system to credit the GC, aside from having it reversed.
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