What Triggers Your Annual Credit Card Travel Credits

How To Use Your Annual Credit Card Travel Credits

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. Now a new year is here, so it’s time to take a look at these benefits and see what works.

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. 

American Express Cards

The personal Amex Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card offer a $200 annual airline credit for incidental fees charged on your card. The Amex Hilton Aspire card has a $250 credi tthat works the same way.

This credit only applies 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. You can change your favorite airline once in January. But even later on, you can often do so if you just chat with an American Express representative. 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 in some other cases:

  • Make a $50 or $100 United TravelBank purchase here. This will trigger the Amex travel credit.
  • Purchase a JetBlue ticket for $99 or less. This will trigger the Amex travel credit. And even if you don’t end up flying, you can cancel after 24 hours and get the refund to your TravelBank fund.
  • Purchase a Southwest ticket for $100 or less. This will trigger the Amex travel credit. And even if you don’t end up flying, you can cancel after 24 hours and get the refund to your Travel Funds.

Bank of America Premium Rewards

With the Bank of America Premium Rewards card, you get a statement credit of up to $100 each calendar year if you make qualifying airline incidental fee transactions. To qualify, you must use your Premium Rewards credit card to pay all airline incidental fee transactions.

Qualifying transactions are those purchases made on domestic-originated flights on certain U.S.-domestic airline carriers that include: preferred seating upgrades, ticket change/cancellation fees, checked baggage fees, in-flight entertainment, onboard food and beverage charges, and airport lounge fees affiliated with eligible airline carriers. 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. Airline incidental fee transactions must be separate from airline ticket charges.  Purchases made with the following U.S. domestic airline carriers will not qualify for the Airline Incidental Statement Credit: Allegiant Air, Spirit Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.

Purchases that unexpectedly trigger this credit include:

  • Make a $50 or $100 United TravelBank purchase.
  • Southwest flights for less than $50
  • American Airlines gift cards for $100 or less.
  • Paying taxes and fees on American Airlines flights
  • Purchasing American Airlines miles

Capital One Venture X

The Capital One Venture X card comes with a $395 annual fee. But you can offset that fee with an annual $300 back as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel. There’s also a $200 Vacation Rental Credit for your first year only, as part of the signup bonus that also includes 100,000 points (worth $1,000). The Vacation Rental Credit is only supposed to work for Airbnb and VRBO, but many other vacation or travel related purchases are triggering it as well. That includes:

  • Paying rent
  • Resort fees

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 $550 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. This credit is based on your account anniversary year,

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 (No Longer Available)

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.

Now, for the third consecutive year, Citi is making this $250 credit much easier to use. Existing Citi Prestige cardmembers have the expanded ability to use their annual $250 travel credit for supermarket and restaurant purchases.

Chase Ritz-Carlton (No Longer Available)

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 $350 airline incidental fees statement credits per calendar year. Officially this credit works for domestic airlines incidental fees on domestic itineraries. If you need to use this credit, some of the options that you have are:

  • Award fees
  • American Airlines Gift Cards

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

The US Bank Altitude Reserve card has a $400 annual fee. With this credit card, account holders can earn up to $325 every cardmember year in automatic statement credits for travel purchases and more. Automatic statement credit(s) totaling up to $325 will be applied to your account when it is used for purchases made directly from a merchant that classifies itself as travel (such as airlines, hotels, car rentals, taxicabs, limousines, passenger trains and cruise line companies) and any merchant classified as a restaurant, fast-food restaurant or bar. 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.

Avoid gift card purchases with this card, since even small amounts have been reported to cause account shutdowns in the past.

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