American Express is waiving its excise fee till the end of the year due to the pandemic and the CARES act.
As travel has come to a halt all around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, transferring your rewards points to airline partners is probably not on the top of your list when it comes to rewards redemption.
However, if you’re an American Express cardmember, it might be time to reconsider.
American Express is waiving the excise tax fee for domestic airlines through December 31, 2020.
“Beginning March 28, 2020, the CARES act temporarily suspended the imposition of applicable excise taxes on the purchase of air travel from domestic airlines through December 31, 2021,” the issuer said in a statement. “Accordingly, American Express will not assess an excise tax offset fee on Membership Rewards points transfers to domestic airline frequent flyer programs from March 28, 2020, through December 31, 2020.”
This temporary offer can save future travelers some money, and some cardholders have already reported seeing fees refunded to their accounts.
How does airline tax offset fee credit work?
When you’re transferring your Membership Rewards points to a U.S. airline, such as Delta, JetBlue and Hawaiian, the issuer charges you an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point (up to $99 for any single transfer). With the new offer, this fee will be waived until the end of the year.
According to the message that appears on Amex’s website when requesting to transfer points to a domestic airline, “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 [carrier’s name] through Dec. 31, 2020.”
Additionally, if you transferred points to a U.S. airline before this announcement (within 2020), the fee might have already been refunded to you. As reported by Doctor of Credit, such a transaction posts as “Membership Rewards Airline Tax Offset Fee.”
See related: American Express transfer partners
Should you transfer your Membership Rewards points now?
With the pandemic still affecting travel nationally, as well as globally, you might not have any trips planned in the near future. Considering Amex transfers to airline partners are irreversible, it might be challenging to determine if a transfer would make sense for you at the moment.
See related: Best ways to spend American Express points
On the other hand, you should consider that a transfer will translate into savings. While the fee might not seem significant, it easily adds up if you transfer a large amount of points. For example, if you transfer 50,000 points, which might cover a domestic flight, you’ll save on a $30-dollar fee. If you’re already planning a trip or have a preferred airline you usually travel with, it might be a good time for a transfer.
Note that the fee is only charged for transfers to domestic carriers. If you’re transferring your Membership Rewards points to foreign frequent flyer programs, you don’t have to pay the excise fee.