Here Are The Best Airlines To Pick For Your American Express Air Travel Credit

One of the benefits of having a premium American Express charge card is a yearly Air Travel Credit. If you have an American Express Gold card you get a $100 credit and cardholders of either the Personal or Business Platinum card you get a $200 credit. These credits have often been touted as an easy to way to offset the high annual fees of these cards but I’ve been leery of doing that as I never felt these credits were the same as cash.

Since for as long as I can remember, it’s been possible to skate around the rules of these credits and find ways to use them as cash, most often by buying airline gift cards or gift certificates. Slowly but surely, American Express has been shutting down those loopholes. Who knows if this is the work of the RAT team or not but there’s been a constant push to make you use these credits as intended.

The first thing to go was the trick to use the credits for United flights (but this might as much been United’s doing as AMEX). Just this year the easiest way to cash these credits out for American went away. At that point, I didn’t want to say I told you so but the writing was on the wall. That day has now come as apparently the gift card workaround is now dead for the remaining two airlines, Delta and Southwest.

So if these methods to use credits are gone, what are they good for and which airlines would those benefits be the best for. Turns out, not the airlines you’d think.

Continue reading “Here Are The Best Airlines To Pick For Your American Express Air Travel Credit”

Why I’m Considering Ditching All Of Our Premium Credit Cards

What do you think of when you hear the phrase premium credit card. Exclusivity? Luxury? Benefits? Perks? For a while, these cards offered all of these.

The grand daddy of the premium card is the American Express Centurion card. A card that’s so exclusive AMEX has to invite you and no one knows the requirements to get said invitation. What we do know is that the card has a $7,500 initiation fee and a $2,500 annual fee. Since I occasionally run a cash register for my day job, I’ve held a few of these cards over the years. It’s wasn’t nearly as exciting as I hoped.

Personally, I’m not at that level. However, I was able to get a base level of premium card from all the major banks. American Express Platinum, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige. So why have I reached the point where I’m considering not holding any of these cards?

Here’s the reason:

Continue reading “Why I’m Considering Ditching All Of Our Premium Credit Cards”

I Hate To Say It, But I Warned You About AMEX Statement Credits

One of the reasons I cancelled my AMEX Platinum card was the ever increasingly difficulty in recovering the cost of the card through the various statement credits. When the annual fee was $450, I was reading posts claiming it actually only cost $250 because of the airline fee credit. When the annual fee went to $550, the card supposedly got even cheaper because AMEX added a $200 Uber credit (in monthly installments). You were led to believe that you could almost break even with the card, and that’s before taking any of the card benefits into account. Eventually, I decided that these credits were not the same as cash and couldn’t be valued that way.

AMEX just made another move to prove my point.

One of the primary ways to offset the high annual fee of American Express cards, like the Platinum or Gold card, is the airline fee credit. It’s important to note that this is an incidental fee credit, not an airline credit or a travel credit. Here are the airlines on which you can use the credit:

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

Note that you can only get the fee credit for a single airline, which you need to choose after getting approved for the card and which you can change once a year, in January. There are reports you can get AMEX to let you change the airline mid year but they’re under no obligation to do so. 

Instead of telling you what’s covered, AMEX says that airline fees charged directly by the airline are reimbursable, except for the following expenses:

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

While it may be easy to incur $200 in fees for an airline like Frontier or Spirit, other airlines that don’t charge extra fees, such as Southwest, might be a bit trickier. And who has a Platinum card and flies on Spirit often enough to choose it as their airline of choice for the credit, anyway?

Despite the wording of the policy, it’s been possible to creatively work around some of the restrictions and use the credit for “not quite” the intended purpose. I’m not going to share the methods here, but a simple Google search will show you how and there are dedicated threads on FlyerTalk for each airline.

Over the last several years, AMEX has cracked down on the workarounds. You used to be able to fund a United gift registry with your card, which could then be used for any United expense, including airfare, but that got shut down. You could also buy Delta Airlines gift cards but without warning, only purchases from desktop purchases still worked, not ones made with mobile devices.


Most recently, one of the most popular workarounds, buying American Airlines gift cards from the website, has apparently stopped working. This change is due to American now coding gift card purchases as a gift certificate when sending the information to AMEX. Since the credits are automatically generated, AMEX’s computers are now simply ignoring these charges for the credits.

Now, I’m not saying there’s no value to the air travel credit. You can use it to pay for baggage fees, if you don’t already get a free bag through other means. You can also use it to upgrade your seat, since airlines would rather sell discounted upgrades instead of giving them away to frequent flyers. The same goes for paying for lounge passes, if the airline still lets you buy one.

You need to ask yourself if you’re sure you’re going to need to spend this money or would have you not spent it if you didn’t have a credit burning a hole in your wallet? If you’re only spending it “just because,” remember this is money you already paid out of your pocket for the annual fee. Spending it frivolously just because you have it doesn’t make any sense. AMEX is tricking you into to thinking like this because if you haven’t used the money by the end of the year, it disappears. Talk about setting money on fire.

Now that the number of airlines you’re able to creatively use your AMEX credits with is shrinking, the airline you choose at time beginning of the year is even more important. That also is what makes the closure of the American workaround hurt the most. Most people didn’t discover the change until after the window had closed to make your selection for the year. Pretty sneaky there, AMEX. 


I’m not saying the AMEX Platinum or Gold cards aren’t worthwhile having for some people. If you value lounge access, the annual fee of the Platinum card might be worth it without getting any credits at all. And the Gold card is a good choice for for earning Membership Rewards points for ongoing spending at restaurants and supermarkets. Just stop thinking that these credits are like cash, cuz they’re not. If you had cash, AMEX couldn’t suddenly change the rules about what you can and can’t spend it on. 

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel  articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

Now Is The Best Time To Use Your Travel Credits

Now is the time. Now is the best time! (if you’re familiar with that song, you’re welcome for the ear worm)

Reading travel websites and groups is always interesting around the end of the year. Out of all of them, one type of post just irks me more than all the others. It’s the post written between December 29-31 that reads something like this:

I still have $ XX.XX left as a credit on my XXXXXXXX card. How can I spend the money before the end of the year and make sure I get the credit?

Really? Really? You had 363 days to use the credit and you waited until the last minute to try and use it?

Continue reading “Now Is The Best Time To Use Your Travel Credits”