Several of American Express premium cards including the Platinum Card, Business Platinum Card, Gold Card and Hilton Aspire card come with an airline incidental fee credit. The credit, which is up to $250 helps offset the high annual fee of these cards.
The travel credit on the Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire Reserve is easy to use. You simply charge an airline ticket or other travel related charge and you get a statement credit within a few weeks. Amex’s incidental fee credit isn’t as straight forward.
First you need to select a preferred airline e.g. American Airlines. Fees incurred on other airlines including alliance partner airlines wont be reimbursed.
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 and generally wont be reimbursed. Even though gift cards are explicitly excluded from the benefit it was widely known that you could still obtain a credit.
However, according to Doctor of Credit everyone’s favorite loophole is now closed and you can no longer obtain a credit for gift card purchases.
While this represents a significant devaluation of the benefit there are still some great uses for the fee credit. Unfortunately wireless internet isn’t one of them.
1. Airline Lounge Membership or Day Passes
You can use your fee credit to help offset the cost of airline lounge memberships or day passes. For example, if you’re a Hilton Aspire cardholder ($250 airline fee benefit) and an AAdvantage Executive Platinum member ($550 annual Admirals Club fee) you can bring your out of pocket total down to $300.
This is your ticket to escape the crowded terminal, grab some light snacks and complementary alcoholic beverages. If you don’t think you’ll utilize the lounge very often you can also use your fee credit on day passes. American charges $59 per person for a day pass so you’ll have to do the math to see what makes the most sense.
2. Baggage Fees
A lot of folks a) avoid checking luggage or b) have free checked bags from their airline elite status or airline credit card, but if you don’t have free checked luggage you can use your Amex incidental fee benefit to cover the charges.
A strategy that might be worth considering is choosing a preferred airline you don’t have status on, but occasionally fly. That way if you have to check luggage the fees will be covered.
3. Change Fees
American Airlines charges $200 to make voluntary changes for domestic travel and up to $750 for international travel. Plans change and these fees are often unpalatable. Using your Amex incidental fee credit to partially or fully cover the cost can make these fees easier to swallow.
First Class Giraffe hates devaluations, but there are still some great uses of the Amex incidental fee credit.