The American Express International Airline Program (IAP) enables eligible cardholders to book discounted tickets on participating airlines when departing from the U.S. and flying in premium economy, business or first class. These are considered paid fares, even if you redeem your American Express Membership Rewards® points, which means you can earn flight credits and frequent flyer miles from your ticket.
However, not everyone with an Amex card can participate, nor are all airlines eligible. We’ll discuss the participating airlines below, but know that this program is only available to those with an eligible The Platinum Card® from American Express (terms apply) or American Express Centurion Black Card
The information for the American Express Centurion Black Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
card (personal or business version) (terms apply).
American Express overview
American Express offers numerous financial products, including a vast array of credit cards. Amex’s card offerings range from those with no annual fee to others charging hundreds of dollars per year to keep them in your wallet. They typically offer cash back, Amex points or even earn points and miles in co-branded rewards programs, such as Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors points.
Two of American Express’ most exclusive cards are The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The information for the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
(terms apply). Rather than acting like a credit card in the traditional sense, where you’ll have a preset spending limit and have the option to carry a balance from month to month — though you’ll pay interest for doing so — these cards have no preset spending limit and are designed for you to either pay your balance in full each month or use the card’s Pay Over Time feature which allows you to carry a balance and pay interest if the balance isn’t paid in full. This feature only applies to eligible charges meeting minimum transaction amounts.
While these cards do have high annual fees, they come loaded with perks, ncluding access to the Amex IAP. These benefits include hundreds of dollars in annual credits, airport lounge access, airline fee credits and more.
What is the Amex International Airline Program?
The Amex International Airline Program (IAP) is available only to those with an Amex Platinum Card, Amex Business Platinum Card or Centurion® card, and offers generous discounts on certain types of tickets.
There are important IAP rules to keep in mind. For example, while eligible flights include refundable, restricted and non-refundable fares, you must book premium economy, business or first class tickets. Economy and basic economy fares aren’t eligible. Moreover, you must travel internationally, departing from or returning to the U.S. or Canadian gateway airports (such as Toronto-YYZ or Vancouver-YVR).
Lastly, not every airline is included in the Amex IAP. At present, the following 26 airlines participate:
- Aer Lingus
- Air China
- Air Europa
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- China Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Japan Airlines
- Lufthansa Group
- Qantas Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
You’ll need to book with one of these airlines, departing from or returning to eligible cities on an international itinerary, have an eligible card and book a ticket in premium economy, business or first class. Otherwise, your reservation won’t be eligible for the discounts provided by the Amex IAP, which can be as much as 20%, but there are times where you’ll find discounts even higher than that.
Which cards qualify for the program?
To participate in the Amex IAP, you’ll need to have one of these cards (terms apply):
As Centurion cards are available by invitation only and carry annual fees in the thousands of dollars, others can gain access to the International Airline Program by having an Amex Platinum or Amex Business Platinum Card.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Earn 5 Membership Rewards® Points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel and on flights booked directly with airlines or AMEX travel. The airline benefit is limited to the first $500K in purchases per calendar year. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on other eligible purchases.
How to navigate the Amex International Program
Because not everyone is eligible for the Amex IAP, you’ll need to log into your account to search and find fares. You can navigate here and log in to get started.
Conversely, if you’re already logged into your account on a computer and are viewing your credit card information, click on the menu in the top left corner. From there, click on “Travel” and then select “Book International Airline Program.”
This will take you to the search page to begin looking for flights.
Searching for a flight feels like what you’re used to on other websites, whether you typically search with Expedia, Google Flights or even directly with a particular airline. You’ll enter your starting and ending points, number of passengers and travel dates (note that you can book one-way or return trips here as well) and then select your booking class. Remember that only premium economy, business and first class tickets are eligible for the IAP discount.
Know that only the primary cardholder can book a flight. You cannot use your Amex Platinum Card to book discounted flights for other people if you aren’t flying. However, you can add up to seven additional passengers on the same reservation as you.
When you’re ready to search for flights, input your route, dates and number of passengers as you normally would. When you receive your results, several filters are available to help narrow things down.
You can filter by the number of stops and departure/arrival times. You also can sort your results by price, duration and departure time.
Scrolling down, you’ll see the list of airlines and their respective prices in your results. There’s a checkbox on the left side to filter for International Airline Program flights only.
This one-stop flight with Japan Airlines departs San Francisco for Tokyo before continuing onward to Hong Kong. It’s an eligible IAP airline, and because I searched for a business-class itinerary, you’ll see that the flight is marked as an International Airline Program flight. The cost for this one-way itinerary is $2,342 or 234,220 Amex points — roughly 1 cent per point in value.
Notice that Amex has indicated the price is discounted from $3,042, which would be a discount of 23%. To verify the discounted price, we checked Japan Airlines’ website, which shows a price of $3,042 for the same flights on the same date.
Google Flights shows a slightly lower price of $3,039.
The Amex International Airline Program is actually beating its own advertised discount of 20% on this particular booking. After selecting your flight, you’ll provide passenger details. Amex will provide another reminder that the primary cardholder must be one of the passengers when booking International Airline Program flights.
Using your Amex Membership Rewards points
After selecting your flight and entering passenger details, you can pay with your eligible Platinum or Centurion card or pay with your Amex points. You also can pay with a mix of the two.
If you choose the “Use Points + Card” option, you can apply as many or as few points as you wish, with each point knocking 1 cent off the price of the booking. Once you’ve chosen your payment method and confirmed the passenger details, you’re ready to finalize payment and book your flights.
If you’re unsure how many points you have, there are several ways to check. When logged in, in the top right corner, look for your name next to an icon of your Amex Platinum Card. It will indicate how many points you have.
Additionally, during the checkout process, Amex will tell you how many points you have and whether that number is sufficient to cover the full cost of the flight you’re booking. Unfortunately, if you’re planning to use the Business Platinum Card’s 35% points rebate (up to 1 million points back per calendar year), you must have all the points you want to use in advance.
For example, if you’re booking a flight that requires 100,000 points, your final cost would be 65,000 points after getting 35% of your points back with this benefit. However, you need to have the full 100,000 points to book the flight entirely with points; having only 65,000 points in your account would require you to use the Points + Cash booking option.
The American Express International Airline Program is an often-overlooked benefit of the Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum cards. It can provide significant savings when booking international flights between the U.S. and foreign countries on eligible carriers, so long as you’re flying in premium economy or higher cabins.
Booking these flights is a straightforward way to pay for travel with your Amex points as well, rather than needing to understand how transfer partners work and search for award availability. If there’s a seat for sale, you should be able to book it with Amex Travel and pay with points, which will be treated as a cash ticket (thus earning frequent flyer miles during your trip).
With Amex’s airline transfer partners, it’s possible that you may pay fewer or more points when booking an international flight. It’s worth comparison shopping to see what booking method provides the best price as Amex Travel may not have the lowest fare. However, if the price is comparable and you value the simplicity of paying with points at checkout, this is a nice perk to have. And the Amex IAP is even more valuable for Business Platinum cardmembers who can get 35% of their points back — up to a million points back annually.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
American Express cards are accepted in numerous countries, and Amex no longer requires you to submit a travel notification in advance. However, some cards do charge a foreign transaction fee for purchases made outside the U.S., so check your card’s details before making purchases in other countries.
It depends. If the authorized cardholder has a Companion Card, which has no annual fee and minimal benefits, this person won’t have access to the International Airline Program unless traveling on an itinerary with the primary account holder. However, if this authorized user has an Additional Platinum Card, which has an annual fee, it’s possible to book Amex IAP flights without the primary account holder.
No, registration is not necessary. This program is available to all Platinum and Centurion cardmembers, as long as you search for eligible flights.
Use of the International Airline Program is reserved for Platinum and Centurion cardholders only. If you don’t have one of these cards, there’s no way to join or pay a membership fee to access the program. Having an eligible card is the only method.
Airline elite status and the Amex International Airline Program (IAP) are not related. With the Amex IAP, you’re booking flights in premium economy, business class, or first class. The benefits related to seats in these cabins may echo some of what you expect with airline status, such as complimentary checked bags, nicer seats, more leg room and better inflight meals.
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