Amex airline fee credit: What it is and how to use it

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One of the best American Express credit card perks is the annual credit for airline incidental fees. This is a valuable benefit that comes with cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

With it, you can get up to $200 or up to $250 toward incidentals on your airline of choice, and the credits renew each calendar year. You can choose which airline the credit will apply to when you open the card, but it has to be used by the end of the year — which is approaching quickly.

Here’s a look at what types of fees do (and don’t) qualify for these credits. And how to select your airline.

The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

What is the Amex airline fee credit?

The Amex airline fee credit is an up to $200 credit you can use for incidental travel expenses. These credits can save you money on things like checked bags, day passes to airport lounges and inflight food and drinks.

You don’t have to use the entire credit at once — you can split it up In any increments. And once the qualifying charge posts to your account, you’ll see the credit within four weeks. 

Amex cards that offer an annual airline fee credit

These Amex travel credit cards come with airline incidental fee credits (enrollment required):

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express – Up to $200 in airline incidental fee credits
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express – Up to $200 in airline incidental fee credits
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card – Up to $250 in airline incidental fee credits

If you have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, choosing the right airline is even more important because you’ll get an extra benefit: Using the Amex Pay With Points feature to purchase airfare through the Amex travel portal, cardholders get a 35% points rebate on all business and first-class tickets (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year). And you’ll get the same 35% points rebate on all coach flights booked with your selected airline through the Amex travel portal using the Pay With Points feature.

You can choose from these airlines:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest
  • Spirit
  • United Airlines

If you previously selected an airline, you have until the end of January each year to choose a new one, or it will stay the same as before.

(Photo by Bignai/Shutterstock)

What can the credit be used for?

You can use the credit for fees including:

  • Checked baggage fees (including overweight/oversize)
  • Itinerary change fees
  • Phone reservation fees
  • Pet flight fees
  • Seat assignment fees
  • Inflight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, headphones)
  • Inflight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet because it’s not charged by the airline)
  • Airport lounge day passes and annual memberships
  • United TravelBank funding

You cannot use fee credits for fees including:

  • Airline tickets
  • Upgrades
  • Mileage-points purchases
  • Mileage-points transfer fees
  • Gift cards
  • Duty-free purchases
  • Award tickets

Just be sure that your purchase is separate from your airline ticket so that it shows up as a different transaction.

How to select your qualifying airline

If you have an American Express card with an airline incidental fee credit, you’ll need to choose the airline the credits apply to before you make an eligible purchase. 

You can make this selection when you open the account, and you can change your choice once per year in January. Although I have been able to get Amex to change my selection mid-year as a courtesy, so it’s always worth asking if you’re in that situation.

Log in to your Amex account

To begin, log in to your Amex account and click on the card you want to access in the upper right corner of the page. Then, select “Benefits.”

Pick your airline

Afterward, you’ll see a screen with info boxes detailing your card’s benefits. Scroll down until you see the airline credit perk, which will include a tracker showing you how much of the credit you still have available to use. In the screenshot below, you can see I’ve already made my selection for the year, but if you haven’t, there should be a link there for you to click to make your airline choice or just click “Learn More.”

Then click the big blue “Select An Airline” button to make and confirm your choice.

Or you can click this link and log in to your account to be brought directly to the above page.

Bottom line

The Amex airline fee credits can be valuable perks, but to take full advantage, you’ll have to jump through some hoops. First, be sure to select your airline before you make any qualifying purchases. And be aware that these credits don’t apply to airfare. Instead, you can get a statement credit for purchases like inflight snacks, seat assignments and checked baggage.

Amex cards with airline incidental credits include (terms apply):

  • Up to $200 with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Up to $250 with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

This is an easy way to save some money on an airline you fly often. If you have experience with reimbursement for airline-fee credits, please share.

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Featured photo by Nattapol_Sritongcom/Shutterstock.

Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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