Amex Airline Fee Credit Workaround For Southwest Airlines (Updated Jan 2020)

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Amex airline fee credit benefit is getting harder and harder these days to go around it. The reimbursement fee credit is useful because by making a good use of it, it essentially offsets the high annual fee on the card. According to American Express, only incidental air travel fees such as baggage fees, inflight food and beverages to name a few that are considered qualified purchases. Any airline gift card or flight’s ticket purchases are not eligible purchases. It makes this benefit very restrictive to use for people that do not like to check bags or do not fly often to pay for those incidental air travel fees in a year with a specific airline.

Amex Airline Fee Credit Workaround For Southwest Airlines

Via FlyerTalk, there’s a workaround with Southwest Airlines to trigger the Amex airline fee credit. Below is the step-by-step guide to walk you through the process. It’s worth noting that this process is subject to change, but we’ll monitor FlyerTalk closely so that when this workaround no longer works, we can update this post accordingly.

Step-by-Step Amex Airline Fee Credit Workaround For Southwest Airlines

Step 1: Make sure to select Southwest Airlines as preferred airline first at You can change this selection once every year in January. If you do not change it, the previous preferred airline selection remains in place.

Step 2: Wait a day or so just to give the system to take effect on your airline selection. 
Step 3: Head over to Southwest Airlines website and search for an airfare under $100. I strongly recommend that you create an account with Southwest Airline if you have not done so. Alternatively, if you have Southwest gift card, you can combine the gift card and make sure the remaining balance to pay is under $100 if the airfare that you want is over $100. There’s a belief that if you use the Amex card to pay for airfare over $100, you are likely not going to be reimbursed. Use Southwest’s useful low fare calendar to help searching for those less than $100 ticket.

Amex Airline Fee Credit Workaround For Southwest Airlines

Step 4: Make sure at the payment section that you are paying with a qualified Amex card that has the airline fee credit benefit and it’s the card that you used to make the airline selection in Step 1. 
Step 5: Allow some time for the Amex system to process your purchase and the fee reimbursement.
Here’s a timeline example:
  • January 3 – Purchased Southwest ticket for $79.86.
  • January 3 – Amex account shows Pending Southwest Airlines $79.86. 
  • January 3 – Purchase is successfully charged and posted as SOUTHWEST AIRLINES DALLAS TX. 
  • January 5 – Amex airline fee of $79.86 reimbursed. 
Be patient and wait it out. It typically takes a few days after the posted transaction to be reimbursed. Do not call Amex to inquire about this as this workaround is not covered under Amex’s definition of “incidental travel air fees.”

Step 6: If you are going to use that Southwest ticket, that’s great. If not, you can cancel the ticket and receive the refund in the form of the travel fund that is good for one year from the date of purchase. This is where I said creating an account with Southwest Airlines is useful because Southwest just made it possible to view Travel Funds under My Account -> View Travel Funds. Moreover, if you did not sign in to purchase the ticket and then cancel it, your travel fund will not appear in your Southwest account either.  

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