LAST CHANCE: Select a carrier for your Amex airline fee credit

an airplane flying in the sky

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Three American Express cards offer cardholders airline fee credits that can go a long way to canceling out the annual fees that these cards charge, but with only two days of January left, time is running out for cardholders to actively choose the airline whose fees they’d like to have rebated.

Three Amex cards offer airline fee credits

  • card_name (up to $200 in credits – terms apply)
  • card_name (up to $200 in credits – terms apply)
  • The Hilton Honors Aspire Card (up to $250 in credits – terms apply)

Note: All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Traveling For Miles. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is not currently available through Traveling For Miles.

If you’re a new cardholder and haven’t ever selected an airline for your airline fee credit there’s no hurry as you can make your airline choice whenever you wish.

Existing cardholders, however, only have until 31 January to change the airline of their choice or Amex will assume that they wish to keep the same airline choice from the previous year.

Amex airline fee credits – what you need to know

Amex’s airline fee credits are worth between $200 and $250 per calendar year (depending on the card) but they come with a significant number of restrictions.

Only select domestic airlines are eligible for the Amex airline fee credit:

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

Holders of the qualifying Amex cards can only nominate one airline per year as the airline whose fees they’d like to have rebated. Once an airline choice has been made (in January of every year) the choice is set for the rest of the year and cannot be changed.

The airline fee credit does not cover airfare.

Examples of airline charges that American Express says will trigger the fee credit include:

  • Baggage fees
  • Seat selection fees
  • Change fees
  • Pet fees
  • In-flight purchases of drinks, food, and amenities
  • In-flight entertainment fees (excluding wifi)
  • Airline lounge day passes and annual memberships

Officially, the following charges will not be rebated:

  • Airfare
  • Upgrade fees
  • Gift card purchases
  • Award fees
  • Mileage purchases
  • Mileage transfer fees
  • Duty-free purchases

I’ve used the word ‘officially’ very deliberately (above) because, as with a lot of things in life, there can be exceptions to the rules (e.g. some gift card purchases may still trigger the credit, and some upgrade fees have been known to trigger the credit)… but you shouldn’t bank on this happening.

Personally, I only got around to using this year’s $200 airline fee credit that card_name gave last month, and because I have American Airlines selected as my airline of choice, I purchased four 500-mile upgrades for exactly $200 and then saw the airline fee credit (for that purchase) post just a few days later:

a screenshot of a phoneJust like most people, the amount of flying I did last year was down considerably on most other years so I didn’t really have much opportunity to use my airline fee credit organically, hence the purchase of upgrades.

For me, buying upgrades is the next best thing to using the airline fee credit organically as I know that I’ll get to use them and I know that I’ll get to use them on a sector where an upgrade is very welcome (e.g. on a transcon or on a Los Angeles – Hawaii route).

For others, a different way to trigger the airline fee credit may be more optimal and choosing a low-cost carrier like Spirit as their airline fee credit airline could be a good way to go (assuming they fly with Spirit).

Spirit is an airline that loves to charge fees, so that makes it quite easy to use the full annual credit year after year.

Selecting an airline

If you are a new cardholder and haven’t yet chosen an airline for your airline fee credit you can make your choice at any time (although the sooner you make your choice the sooner you can start to claw back some of the annual fee).

If you’re an existing cardholder, you have the whole of January of each year to reconfirm your airline selection or to change your decision from the prior year. Right now, that means that you have less than 48 hours left.

The easiest way to make your airline selection is to head over to this American Express webpage, log in to the American Express account linked to your card, and make your selection on the page that opens up.

This is what I see when I log in to card_name:

a screenshot of a credit card

If (for some reason) the link above won’t resolve, you can access your airline fee credit benefit by following these simple steps:

  1. Log in to your American Express online account
  2. Click on “benefits” from the top menu bar
  3. Scroll down the benefits page until you see the airline fee credit appear. In my case, this is what that looks like (I currently have American Airlines selected as my airline of choice):

a screenshot of a credit card

If you have a particular domestic airline with which you fly a lot, then that may be the obvious airline for you to choose, but don’t forget that if you have elite status with that airline, there’s a good chance that a lot of the ancillary fees it charges may be complimentary as part of your benefits package.

You may be better off selecting a secondary airline with whom you don’t have elite status and where there’s a greater chance that you’ll be hit with a few unavoidable fees.

Bottom line

The month of January is the one period of the year in which holders of select American Express cards can change the airline that’s associated with their card(s) for the purposes of the airline fee credit, so now would be a good time to review the position you find yourself in if you hold one of these card.

Have a think about which airlines you’re likely to fly this year, which airline is likely to charge you fees that you have no way of avoiding, and which airline is likely to give you the most opportunities to earn the full airline fee credit that your card offers… and then make your selection before the end of January.

Which airline are you choosing to nominate for your Amex airline fee credit and why?

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Ziggy,
    Quick question – can you designate 1 airline for Amex Gold and another airline for Amex Personal Plat? I recently got the Plat in Dec and it automatically defaulted my airline to Alaska (the airline I have in system for my Gold which I’ve not changed the past 2yrs).

    I, too, thought to use these credits by buying seat upgrades. I’ve done this several times in different ways (1) purchase Premium Seats at time of booking, and (2) separate transaction days after ticket was purchased to change/upgrade to Premium seats. I tried Option 2 with both the Gold and Plat (charges were $25 or $50), thinking it would trigger the airline credit. NONE of these methods had worked.

    Then strangely, a one-way ticket I purchased for less than $100 (which I later had to cancel due to covid-traveling restrictions) somehow triggered a reimbursement. I was happy to see that but it didn’t make any sense….

    Curious if others have different data points with Alaska Airlines for Amex credits…

    • That’s a good question. I don’t have two cards that both offer an airline fee credit so I can’t be 100% sure but I don’t see why not. They are, after all, two separate cards with two separate credits. If there’s no way to do this online, I suggest you call Amex and ask an agent. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  2. UPDATE: Partial payment for a re-booked R/T ticket (< $100) did trigger the airline credit for Alaska. So that's a good data point for others 🙂

    Also another use of my airline credit: purchased Alaska Lounge Day pass for SEA (2 of their 3 lounges currently opened and their Flagship lounge is very nice).

    A year ago, was told these have to be purchased IN PERSON, which is limiting if one is not traveling thru (or live near) one of their airports w/ Alaska Lounge. However, I think given pandemic, you can purchase these via agent over phone. Hope this helps others 🙂

Comments are closed.