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American Express offers ‘airline fee credits’ on several of its cards. You’re supposed to be able to use the funds for things like seat assignment fees, checked bag fees, and inflight food and drink.
- You’re not supposed to be able to use this for airline tickets. In fact you’re not supposed to be able to use the credits for upgrades, buying miles, or gift cards either.
- You select one airline to use the credit with for the year out of Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United. Your chosen airline continues as a default year after year unless you change it, and you can change it once a year in January.
- It’s use it or lose it
Clearly American Express gets value out of promoting a $200 benefit but that not all cardholders take full advantage of. Their cost to provide the benefit should therefore be substantially less than $200.
As we’re approaching the end of 2018, make sure not to let any fee credits go unused. Here are American Express cards that offer an airline fee credit:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express will let you earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. I love earning 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel with this card.
This card gets complimentary access to American Express Centurion airport lounges. It also provides individual cardmember access to Delta lounges when flying Delta same-day, and a Priority Pass Select membership for cardmember access to lounges that are a part of the Priority Pass network (which includes Alaska Airlines lounges and many international lounges).
The card provides up to $200 a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees. There are also additional travel benefits like Gold status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program, Hilton Honors and Executive status in the National Car Rental program.
The card’s annual fee is $550, and it has a benefit of up to $200 Uber Savings annually (available to the primary cardholder only).
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express also has this $200 airline fee credit and has similar lounge and elite status benefits.
There’s an initial offer of up to 75,000 Membership Rewards: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 & an additional 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of cardmembership.
You earn 1.5 points per dollar on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more up to 1 million additional points per year.
- American Express® Gold Card is the new ‘it’ card — available until January 9, 2019 only as a metal rose gold. It earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar at US restaurants and on up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets as well as 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
It has an annual fee of $250 along with a $100 airline fee credit (and dining credits).
- The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is a $450 annual fee card that comes with complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status and also a free weekend night each cardmember year. $60,000 in purchases in a calendar year earns another weekend night.
It has a $250 airline incidental fee credit per calendar year and a $250 Hilton resort statement credit per cardmember year.
I’ve been buying American Airlines electronic online gift cards with my fee credits. It’s not supposed to work, but it has worked. Of course there’s no guarantee that it will continue to work because American Express could change this at any time.
The nice thing about American Airlines gift cards is that I’m going to use them anyway, so if they ever weren’t reimbursed I am not out any money. They’re just credit that I’m going to use towards a paid ticket.
Reports have been that the following work:
- American Airlines electronic gift cards in amounts not greater than $100
- Delta Airlines eGift Cards in amounts not greater than $50
- Southwest Airlines gift cards up to the full value of your available credit
Interestingly Derp Report says that $200 electronic American Airlines gift cards have been getting reimbursed successfully. I’m not going to try this because there’s no benefit to me in doing so — I’m just as happy applying (2) $100 gift cards as a single $200 card. The edge case to care about $200 gift cards is if you’re applying a lot of them to a single reservation, since the maximum American supports is 8 per booking.
United hasn’t been an option since the airline stopped allowing purchases of gift registry funds.
Now is the perfect time to get an American Express card with an airline fee credit. That’s because the credit is based on calendar year rather than your cardmember (or annual fee) year. You still gave time to get the card in 2018 and use the 2018 fee credit and then once January 2019 rolls around you can use the fee credit again. This means you’d get the airline fee credit twice in your first annual fee year.