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Tax warning for Amex card holders credited with free £200 in error

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

American Express Business Platinum Card holders have been credited with a free £200 – an error which it is working to resolve “as soon as possible”. However, this free cash could pose tax problems.

Holders of the card which offers premium travel benefits and rewards for a £595 annual fee were baffled yesterday when their accounts received ‘£200 Amex Travel Credit’.

First reported by frequent flyer website Head for Points, many were confused as the £200 statement credit (every membership year) should only have been received after they spent £200 in a single transaction with Amex Travel.

And this was only due to happen from 10 October after the Amex Business Platinum package was relaunched.

Rob Burgess of Head for Points, said: “It seems that many Business Platinum card holders have been given £200. Just, you know, given it. No spending necessary.”

While not all card holders have been credited, one HfP reader told Burgess that an Amex call centre worker shared that around 12,500 people had received the free cash.

YourMoney.com asked Amex how many customers were impacted but this information was not shared.

Amex did confirm it affects a number of Business Platinum customers and it is working to resolve this as soon as possible.

A spokesperson added that if any cardmembers have questions, they should call the customer service line.

Free cash tax issue

Burgess suggested to Amex that it lets cardholders keep the £200 so it doesn’t need to issue the £200 Amex Travel credit for an eligible spend in the current membership year.

However, he warned there is a taxation issue with this.

He explained: “Since most Business Platinum cardholders expense the annual fee (and so reduce their tax bill), any random credit like this would need to be treated as income and therefore becomes taxable by the business.

“However, if a Business Platinum cardholder booked £200 of personal travel via their Business Platinum card and received £200 cashback specifically linked to that transaction, it would NOT be taxable because it would be rebate linked to that specific purchase, which was never charged to the company.”

We will update this news story once Amex reveals the steps it takes regarding the mistake.