Use Your AMEX Airline Fee Credit Before the End of the Year – Here’s What Still Works

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Use Your AMEX Airline Fee Credit Before the End of the Year – Here’s What Still Works

Harlan VaughnUse Your AMEX Airline Fee Credit Before the End of the Year – Here’s What Still WorksMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Looking for an easy way to use your AMEX airline fee credit?  With certain AMEX cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card, you get up to $100, $200, or $250 to use for incidentals on an airline you choose.  These credits renew each calendar year.

If you don’t have plans to fly, that means you won’t check bags, pay for upgrades, or have spending to trigger the credit.  However, some folks report success buying airline gift cards.  This way, you can take your time to travel, and use the gift cards for air travel expenses when you’re ready.

But it only works for 3 airlines.

You Can Use Your AMEX Airline Fee Credit for American Airlines Gift Cards. Buy Now, Fly Later!

I’ll share what works!

Use Your AMEX Airline Fee Credit Before It Expires

These AMEX cards come with airline fee credits that reset each calendar year:

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

You must select one of these airlines to use the credit:

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

You can use the credit for:

  • Checked baggage
  • In-flight food or beverages
  • Lounge day passes
  • Change or cancellation fees
  • Seat assignments or upgrades
  • And many other airline fees

Buy Gift Cards to Fly on 3 Airlines to Use Your Credits

Anecdotally, you can use the airline fee credit for gift cards to fly with:

  • American Airlines
  • Delta
  • Southwest
Lesser Known Southwest Booking Trick Ideal If You Have The Companion Pass
Keith and Liz Love to Fly Southwest! Using AMEX Fee Credits for Southwest Gift Cards Is an Even Better Deal If You Have the Companion Pass

This works in practice, even though AMEX explicitly says:

This benefit doesn’t offer credit toward airline tickets, mileage points purchases or mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, upgrades, duty-free purchases, or award tickets.

However, many folks have had success anyway.  Team member Meghan used her credits for Delta gift cards.  And I had luck getting two $100 Southwest gift cards reimbursed.

Credits for Two $100 Southwest Gift Cards Posted Within 2 Days

This is useful if you don’t have travel coming up because you don’t have give up the airline fee credit.  Instead, you can use the gift card toward airfare whenever you want.

These credits help offset a card’s annual fee.  And for Southwest, you can get an even better deal if you have the Companion Pass, because you can fly with a partner for only the cost of taxes and fees.

Plus, these airlines offer digital gift cards that arrive by email.  So you can search your email for the card number when you’re ready to redeem them.  Or, you could send them to someone else to use.

When you apply gift cards toward airfare, you’ll earn miles and elite status credit for your flights.  I’d almost rather redeem my credits this way instead of other incidentals.  Although if you have to pay a change or cancellation fee for a last-minute change of plans, these credits ease the sting of paying out-of-pocket.

Keep This in Mind Before You Buy Gift Cards!

Everything we know about this is hearsay, but a huge tip is buy small denominations to trigger the credit.

Folks say to purchase Delta gift cards in $50 increments.  And to stick to $100 or less for American Airlines gift cards.

I bought my Southwest gift cards for $100 each, and spaced them out a few days, to be on the safe side.

In the past, I got American Airlines e-gift cards.  My credits always clear without issues.

Choose Smaller Denominations If You Do This. And I Chose Different Designs for Each American Airlines Gift Card to Keep Them Separate

If you have a $200 airline fee credit with The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, or a $250 credit with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, buying a $200 or $250 gift card will most likely NOT work for reimbursement.

Instead, stick to lower denominations spread over a few transactions for the best chance of success.

Again, this is an unofficial benefit that just so happens to work.  Buy at your own risk, and check to see if a small amount is reimbursed within a couple of weeks before you spend the full credit.

What About the Other Airlines?

If you don’t fly American Airlines, Delta, or Southwest, folks say the incidental fee credit sometimes works for cheap flights, too!

Here’s what I found for the others:

  • Alaska Airlines – Flights under $100 trigger the credit
  • Frontier Airlines – Only works for true incidentals, like upgrades or other fees
  • Hawaiian Airlines – Flights under $50 trigger the credit
  • JetBlue – Flights under $100 trigger the credit (and they don’t sell gift cards)
  • Spirit – Small charges work, but it’s usually bundled with airfare, so you may have to call AMEX for manual credit
  • United Airlines – Only works for true incidentals (and they don’t sell gift cards)

You might get cheap flights credited back.  So instead of buying a cheap round-trip flight, you could try to book 2 one-way flights and try your luck, especially if the flights are under $100.

And other incidentals, like upgrades or seat assignments, should clear within one billing cycle.  If they don’t, you can always call and have the credits applied manually.

Bottom Line

AMEX cards with airline incidental credits include:

And you can buy small denomination gift cards to spend the credit when you select American Airlines, Delta, or Southwest as your airline of choice.

Keep in mind, AMEX terms & conditions specifically exclude this, but it works in practice.  And it’s an easy way to turn your credits into future air travel.  Just space out your transactions and give the credit time to post.  And remember, there’s no guarantee this will work for everyone.

If you have a data point on whether or not you got reimbursed for airline fee credits, please share!

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
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  • $550 annual fee.
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bought $100 gift card 8 days ago, but no credit. yet family did same 2 wks ago & received credit within 4 days. Am I out of luck?

United’s reimbursement worked in January 2018 to buy additional miles to keep my silver status. Bought the miles for $200 and it was reimbursed by Amex.

Thanks for sharing! I haven’t read many people doing this, purchasing miles on United and being issued a credit from AMEX. Good to know it works!

This needs updated. I can confirm that any amount gift card from American Airlines triggers the credit on AmEx. I successfully received the credit for 6 $200 gift cards, and 2 $250 gift cards.


Hey Andy! Thank you for sharing your datapoint. I’ve seen folks report it both ways and your experience seems like the exception instead of the rule. I’m glad it worked for you at the higher amounts! For most folks, especially beginners, I’d still recommend starting with smaller amounts just to be on the safe side.

Thanks again for reading and commenting!

I just recently signed up for the AMEX Platinum Business and I wasn’t able to use my airline credits, however on December 29th I was flying I asked American Airlines, “What can I buy on this flight? Sell me something!”

They had nothing.

So I bought a giftcard for $88.73 and then later $97.22. It worked, I got the credit already back on, it worked!


Excellent news, Brett! Thank you so much for sharing!

I’ve had the Amex Aspire card for about 6 weeks. On December 27 I had yet to choose an airline due to the fact that I fly various providers each year. Since my wife and I generally fly Southwest at least once per year, I decided to choose them and attempt to purchase a $250 gift card in hopes of reimbursement prior to the annual “roll-over”. After waiting 3 days, my account was credited the full amount of $250. I intend to switch my choice to American Airlines on January 1st and purchase a gift card of $100… I’ll update this post when the transactions are fully complete. I also have the Chase Reserve card which gives the $300 credit with no questions asked for direct ticket purchases. This seems to be the much easier option…

Quick question, did your credit come in before 2019? I made my gift card purchase on dec 30 and the credit came on Jan 2nd. I am wondering if this should still work for me?

Worked for me since the first charge posted in 2018 (12/30) but credit received in 2019 (1/2). Did a second $250 southwest last week and another credit was posted. 🙂

Excellent, thank you for sharing!

Was customer service able to adjust the credits so it was credited to the past year (2018)?

Sadly no they were not able to assist because even though I did the transaction on the 29th it did not post until Jan 1, the funny thing about that was none of the others ever posted. They simply said pending until the credit was applied. So the Dec 29, was the only one that posted and was credited on Jan 4.

Same. Purchase 12/29. Credited Jan 2. I am wondering this too.

I purchased on 12/29 but apparently it did not post till Jan 1, 2019 so I did not get the credit for 2018. Also, has anyone tried to purchase Delta gift certificates in increments greater than $50.00 and got reimbursed?

Hi Lisa,

Bummer! Sorry to hear it didn’t post in time for 2018.

I have not heard of any reports of Delta cards over $50 being reimbursed.

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