How To Use Your Credit Card Travel Credits Before Year’s End

Premium credit cards often come with large annual fees, but also extra benefits that give you more value. These added benefits often are enough to offset the annual fee or even cover it. Travel credits are some of the most important benefits that premium cards offer and many of them expire at the end of the year. Some credit cards like U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve go by cardmember year, so you’ll have till whenever that date is for you.

Let me know if you spot any errors or if you have any extra information that could help other readers to maximize their credit card’s travel credits this year. Hopefully you didn’t wait till now to maximize your travel credits, but if you did, maybe this article will help.

Credit Card Travel Credits

Amex Platinum Cards

The personal Amex Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card offer a $200 annual airline fee credit. This credit only apply to the airline that you select at the beginning of the year. If you’ve never done this, then you can register for an airline here. For the Business Platinum card, the airline you choose will also get you 35% of your points back when redeeming for coach tickets. You can choose any of these airlines.

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

If you aren’t sure if you’ve used any of this credit, you can check on your benefits page in your account.

The airline credit can be used for baggage fees, change fees and food and beverage purchases on board, but it also works on gift cards. It also works on some gift card purchases, which makes it easier to use it up, especially this late in the year. Here’s some gift card options that will work:

  • American Airlines Gift Cards up to $100
  • Delta Gift Cards up to $50
  • Hawaiian Airlines Gift Cards up to $100
  • Southwest Gift Cards up to $100
  • United Gift Registry up to $100

Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card

This credit card comes with a $195 annual fee, but also offers $100 per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees, such as baggage fees and other incidentals. Gift card purchases as the ones mentioned above will also work for the Premier Rewards Gold Card.

Bank Of America Premium Rewards Card

The Bank Of America Premium Rewards Credit Card comes with a  $100 Airline Incidental Statement Credit per calendar year for qualifying purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services, and airline lounge fees – automatically applied to your card statement. As per their fine print, Airline ticket purchases, mileage point purchases, mileage point transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases, award tickets and fees incurred with airline alliance partners do not qualify. However, that’s not always enforced completely.

Here’s some gift card options if you have yet to maximize the credit for this year:

  • American Airlines eGift Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve

One of the best perks that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is the $300 Annual Travel Credit which helps offset the $450 annual fee. This travel credit is one of the most generous of this kind since it applies to a wide array of travel charges, from airfare, hotels, Uber and even Metrocard charges in NYC and similar services in other cities. Just keep in mind that the for cards issued prior to May 21, 2017 reimbursement was based on Calendar year and for cards issued after May 21, 2017, it will be reimbursed by membership year. Your next year’s $300 Annual Travel Credit will begin after your statement closing date in December of the current year, so hopefully you have used up this year’s credits already.

Besides all the uses, here’s some gift card options that work:

  • American Airlines Gift Cards
  • Delta Gift Cards
  • Marriott Gift Cards
  • Airbnb Gift Cards
  • MileagePlusX Uber Gift Cards

The card has an easy tracker for your travel credits. Just go into your Rewards Home and you should see the tracker on top right of the card’s page.

Citi Prestige Card

The Citi Prestige card has a $250 annual air travel credit that you can use to help offset the cost of airfare, baggage fees, airline lounge access and even some in-flight purchases. If you travel often then this is easy to use up, because you can use it to purchase tickets with any airline, no selection required like with American Express.

This is not one of the travel credits that you want to let go unused till the end of the year and hopefully you have used it up already for 2017. The eligible purchase counts for the year when the statement closes, not date of purchase. Tickets purchased late in the year, might not count against the benefit in the current calendar year. For example, if you purchase now and your statement closes in January, then your purchase will count towards the 2018 annual air travel credit.

Here’s some gift card options that work:

  • American Airlines Gift Cards
  • Delta Gift Cards
  • Southwest Gift Cards
  • United Gift Cards

Chase Ritz-Carlton

This credit card offers $300 in annual travel credit to use for baggage fees, Global Entry fees, seat upgrades, access to your preferred airport lounge and more. However unlike other cards, this credit is not automatically applied. After you use your card for eligible expenses, you need to call 1-855-896-2222 within 4 billing cycles, to get your charges refunded after your flight.

I believe most airline gift card purchases are no longer working to trigger the credit, besides Southwest. But if you’re buying gift cards or using the credit for other expenses that are not exactly covered, do not use all the $300 at once. Since you have to call in to get your credit, customer service reps will question you why incidental charges are so high. Do a couple of smaller purchases instead.

CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card

The Crystal Visa Infinite Card from City National Bank comes with $250 airline incidental fees statement credits per calendar year. What’s special about this card, if you’re able to get approves, is that the $250 credit is per calendar year per card. You can add up to three authorized users for free per cardmember account and each one of them gets the Incidental Fees Statement Credit. That means you can get up to $1,000 back annually.

If you haven’t maximized the credits for this year, then American Airlines e-gift cards are the only option as far as I know, besides any incidental fees that always work.

UBS Visa Infinite

The UBS Visa Infinite card has a $250 Airline Fee Credit. Qualifying Airline Purchases must be charged to a UBS Visa Infinite credit card, either primary or additional cards. You get $250 total per account. UBS and Visa rely on airlines to submit the correct information for these transactions. To enroll in this benefit you need to call 888-762-1232 or call collect 201-352-5257 when outside the U.S. You can only select one eligible domestic airline for the whole year. Only charges on that airlines will qualify for credit.

Airline ticket purchases, mileage point purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases, award tickets and fees incurred with airline alliance partners will not qualify for credit.

US Bank Altitude Reserve

With this credit card, account holders can earn up to $325 every cardmember year in automatic statement credits for travel purchases made directly from airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains and cruise lines. This is pretty generous as well, just keep in mind that the end of the year doesn’t mean anything for this card. $325 travel credits are based on your membership year.

Almost any type of travel purchase will be automatically reimbursed. Avoid gift card purchases with this card, since even small amounts have been reported to cause account shutdowns.


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