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A little known thing that American Express does with its Membership Rewards program is charge a small excise fee when you transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to a domestic (US-based) airline.
In this article
The Amex Excise Fee for Domestic Airline Transfers
Normally, you’ll pay $0.60 per 1,000 points transferred to domestic airline miles from Amex Membership Rewards, up to a maximum of $99. So a 100,000 point transfer to Delta, for example, would cost you $60.
It covers a government excise tax charged to Amex, although none of the other US banks pass along this fee, so it’s a bit of a mystery why Amex choose to charge members for this.
This means that you’ll pay this fee on transfers from American Express membership Rewards to Delta, Hawaiian, and JetBlue.
This Excise Fee is Waived Through the Rest of 2020
I do know many people that transfer from Amex to Delta and, sometimes, to Hawaiian (useful for a longhaul US-Hawaii flight when they have Business Class Saver awards). JetBlue is almost never worthwhile.
Travel with Grant discovered that Amex will be waiving these fees as an unexpected benefit of the CARES Act.
“As a result of COVID-19 and the subsequent CARES Act passed in the United States on Mar. 28, 2020, we are temporarily waiving all excise tax offset fees on point transfers to [airline] through Dec. 31, 2020.”
It’s Retroactive to any 2020 Transfer
If you made a transfer to Delta, Hawaiian, or JetBlue in 2020, you’ll be getting a refund of this fee.
You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards.
New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.