Many premium travel cards include an airline fee credit that enables cardmembers to maximize its value. Typically, this perks reimburses cardmembers for fees like checked bag fees, change fees and in-flight entertainment tablet rentals charged directly by airlines they select as their provider.
1. Pick Your Airline Strategically
Airline fee credits have become more limited over time, yet you may still be able to maximize the benefits. American Express requires you to select one airline each year when applying for its credit; this makes it less valuable than flexible credits like those found on co-branded cards from other airlines; however there are ways around this rule that may help maximize its benefit.
First, ensure that you select an airline where you travel frequently enough to make use of the Amex credit effectively. For example, with Delta status comes free checked baggage on most flights so making this your Amex credit airline may be worth paying an annual fee for.
Spirit, Southwest and JetBlue airlines can be excellent airline credit airline choices. When flying one of these carriers, additional fees such as seat selection or snacks/beverages might need to be paid; having access to airline fee credits could come in handy for these expenses.
Once you’ve selected an airline, keep in mind that for you to qualify for the credit. Additional expenses, such as award ticket change/cancellation charges, airport lounge day passes or annual memberships do not count towards this credit; generally speaking purchasing airfare outright won’t either; although there may be exceptions.
Amex airline credit resets every January, giving you plenty of opportunity to switch airlines at any point during the year; just keep in mind that any unutilized credits will expire at the end of calendar year. If you do switch, be sure to monitor your Amex statement regularly throughout 2019 to make sure all eligible purchases are being credited with credit.
2. Maximize Your Baggage Fee Credit
American Express’ airline fee credit can be an exceptional benefit of their card, yet can be challenging to maximize due to only covering incidental charges on one designated airline and you need to select it each January.
At first, this may put off travelers, particularly when the premium card comes with high annual fees. But there are ways to maximize its use!
Prior to using your credit, it’s essential to understand which expenses qualify. Your card’s terms and conditions specify only certain fees charged by airlines as qualifying expenses; however, many others that aren’t listed may also qualify, including airport lounge day passes and annual memberships, inflight entertainment costs (TV shows, movies and Alaska Airlines-branded tablets), gift card fees charged by them as well as award fees charged by them.
Unfortunately, this makes it challenging for many people to use all $200 credit value each year. However, Amex has proven itself flexible enough in this area if you contact or speak to one of their representatives directly.
Even so, you can still maximize your airline fee credit if you select a low-cost carrier as your airline of choice and pay extra fees such as checked bags or seat assignments. Just remember that it does not cover airfare or fees from airline alliance partners – although that can be frustrating at times!
3. Maximize Your Inflight Entertainment Credit
Airline incidental credit is one of the most sought-after perks offered by premium travel cards such as The Platinum Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card from American Express, yet taking steps to maximize it requires some forethought and careful consideration; many passengers don’t realize inflight entertainment fees are eligible for credit (provided they’re charged directly by airlines).
Another overlooked opportunity lies in using credit to pay for premium seat selection on flights. Delta Air Lines charges an administrative fee to select specific seats when purchasing basic economy tickets over the phone or online; this fee can be pre-paid using Amex Platinum cards before being reimbursed later.
Amex airline incidental credits can be used for more than just inflight entertainment fees – they can also cover things such as lounge passes and annual memberships, award ticket fees and change/cancellation fees charged directly by airlines; pet travel fees on certain airlines (often waived during pandemic conditions); pet insurance fees for certain airlines, etc.
Note that Amex only distributes this credit once annually in January; it won’t carry over. Although their rules state you can only change which airline you designate as your recipient once annually, Upgraded Points has had success doing this even midyear by speaking with their representative and politely asking nicely for assistance.
4. Maximize Your Lounge Visit Credit
Airline incidental credits are among the most sought-after travel benefits from credit cards, offering travelers an opportunity to offset or eliminate some of the fees associated with traveling by airplane. Therefore, it’s crucial that these perks are maximized to their fullest value.
Definitions of eligible airline incidental fees vary slightly between cards; however, many expenses remain the same across airlines. For instance, most charge baggage fees (for carry-on and checked bags), food and beverages onboard flight as well as fee-based upgrades that can be paid with airline credits.
One key thing to keep in mind when using airline credit is that it only covers purchases made on their chosen airline, as all purchases at different airlines use different merchant codes for transactions, sometimes making an airline credit ineffective.
Therefore, it’s advisable to select an airline you frequent frequently in order to increase your odds of receiving credit when required.
Keep your account and statements under close review to make sure all eligible airline credit items are being applied to your account and statements. It is also worth remembering that airline credits only last through December 31st; take full advantage of them by selecting your airline of choice and making qualifying purchases within this timeframe. If your airline credit benefits aren’t being maximized fully, reach out to cardmember service team so they can reset it for January 1.
5. Maximize Your Priority Boarding Credit
This credit only lasts for one calendar year, so you must use or lose it. This differs from many other cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve which offers an annual $300 travel credit that can be applied toward travel purchases at any point during cardmember year. Furthermore, there may be items which don’t count towards this offer such as gift card purchases or award ticket fees that don’t count toward it.
The airline fee credit may be redeemed for various items, such as bag fees, seat assignments, inflight entertainment and lounge passes. Unfortunately, however, it cannot be applied towards items considered upgrades to a higher class of service. In order for charges to be eligible, they must contain both merchant code and service/product identifiers.
Selecting your airline strategically can help maximize this credit. For example, if you frequently fly Delta and attain AAdvantage Platinum Pro status, make it your carrier of choice and use the credit to cover checked bag fees on those flights. Or consider Southwest as an alternative and use it to cover baggage storage, lounge access or inflight entertainment charges instead.
Upgraded Points has found it possible for members to change their airline choice mid-year. Simply call the number on your card and talk with a representative; they’ll ask if you have already used up all your credit for that year, if not they will let you know which airlines are available and allow for switching.