We’re just over a month from the end of the year, which means there are quite a few tasks that those into miles & points should complete. In addition to finalizing your plans for earning elite status for the year, you should also make sure that you’ve maximized all of benefits you receive (whether with credit cards, airlines, or hotels) that are calendar year based.
One of those is the airline fee credits that are offered by several American Express credit cards. Based on the credit cards that I have, this is an opportunity to get hundreds of dollars of value per year.
What are Amex airline fee credits?
Credit cards offer a variety of benefits, and in the case of several American Express cards, one of those is an annual airline fee credit. The credit is intended to be used towards airline fees (as the name suggests), and for many of us, benefits like this help offset the annual fees on cards.
What’s the validity for Amex airline fee credits?
In the case of all American Express credit cards offering airline fee credits, the validity is based on the calendar year. This is a strict calendar year definition, so it’s not like some cards, where it’s based on your cardmember year, or other cards, where it’s valid through your last statement closing date in December.
With Amex, airline fee credits are valid January 1 through December 31, and it’s a “use it or lose it” situation.
Which airlines are eligible for the Amex airline fee credit?
You can designate one of the following airlines as your airline of choice for this benefit:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- Spirit Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
Which Amex cards come with airline fee credits?
The following cards offer airline fee credits, in the following increments:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee) — $200 annual airline fee credit
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express ($450 annual fee) — $200 annual airline fee credit
- American Express® Gold Card ($250 annual fee) — $100 annual airline fee credit
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card ($450 annual fee) — $250 annual airline fee credit
What can the Amex airline fee credit be used for?
Per the terms, the annual airline credit can be used for purchases made directly with airlines, excluding the following:
Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.
As you can see, this excludes a ton of stuff. Anecdotally, however, many report having luck purchasing airline gift cards and having those reimbursed. For example, I just purchased $250 in American Airlines gift cards (two $100 gift cards and one $50 gift card — the key is that you buy them in small increments), and they were automatically reimbursed a couple of days later (which consistently seems to be how quickly they post, in my experience).
Those threads should be a useful resource for figuring out what exactly is and isn’t reimbursable, though just keep in mind that this can always change.
Do you need to register to take advantage of Amex airline fee credits?
Your eligible airline purchase should be automatically reimbursed when charged to a qualifying card, assuming you’ve designated an airline for this benefit. Each year you have to designate an airline for your airline fee credit, which can be done at this link. You can change your designated airline once per year, in January.
If you already designated an airline last year, that will be the default one this year, so if you want to keep it you don’t have to do anything. But if you haven’t designated an airline in the past or want to change your selection, you’ll want to go to the above link to edit it.
Keep in mind that for The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, the airline you choose is the same one for which you’ll get 35% off when redeeming points with the “Pay With Points” feature. So you’ll want to choose your airline carefully.
Should the Amex airline fee credit benefit impact when you apply for Amex cards?
Yes and no. Many people are put off by credit cards with high annual fees, because it seems like a lot of money to spend up front, even if you’ll eventually get value out of the card.
If you want to recoup as much of the annual fee as quickly as possible, it could make sense to apply for a card late in the year. For example, say you’re considering The Platinum Card® from American Express, which offers many perks that help offset the fee, including Amex Centurion Lounge access, Hilton and Starwood hotel status, a $200 annual airline fee credit, a $200 annual Uber credit, a $100 annual Saks credit, and 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines.
If you can take advantage of a $200 airline fee credit in the next month, and then another one on January 1, you’ll potentially have gotten $400 of value out of that benefit alone within a matter of weeks, which may swing whether or not the card is worth it to some.
So ultimately it doesn’t make a huge difference, but psychologically I know a lot of people like getting a lot of value out of a card as soon as possible.
Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Platinum Card
While I hate when the year “resets” in terms of elite status, I do love picking up new annual airline fee credits thanks to the Amex credit cards I have. If you have any of the above Amex cards, make sure you’ve used your 2018 credits, since time is ticking before they expire.
And if you’ve just recently picked up an Amex card, make sure you designate an airline and then use the credit.
Have you redeemed your 2018 Amex airline fee credits yet?
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.