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What Still Works For Amex Airline Incidental Credits In 2022?

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What Still Works For Amex Airline Incidental Credits?

What Still Works For Amex Airline Incidental Credits?

One of the more valuable perks that American Express has on their premium cards is the airline incidental credits. These have become more restrictive over the years, and some people are leaving money on the table because of it. We want to show you what still works for Amex airline incidental credits, which should make maximizing all of your credits easier. There are the obvious options and then ones that are not so obvious. Let’s take a look at all the angles and make sure you get a big chunk of your annual fees back.

Update 12/22/22: Just a little over a week to use up any credits you have left.

Which American Express Cards Have Airline Fee Reimbursements?

First, before we talk about what works, we should discuss which American Express credit cards actually offer these Amex airline incidental credits.  There have been some changes over the years, and cards have been added and removed. Here is a list of the current cards that offer the airline fee reimbursements and the total for each:

These credits are based on calendar year: January 1st to December 31st.  Because of that, it is possible to get two in the first year of card membership, which can be very lucrative. If you would open a card in September, you could use a credit before December 31 and then use another in the beginning of the following year–all before your next fee rolls around in September.

Be Sure To Select Your Airline Before Making Any Purchases

Now that we know which cards from American Express have airline incidental credits, you need to make sure you properly activate the benefit before making any purchases.  The list of airlines available are as follows:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

Link to Select Your Airline

You need to select an airline that you fly often or know you can use the credit for. Some of that will depend on what way to use the credit works the best for you, which brings us to our next section.

Image of a plane wing above the clouds, as seen from an airplane window

What Should Work For Amex Airline Incidental Credits?

American Express has listed out what should work, is approved, for the credits and things that should not work for the airline fee reimbursements.

These Fees Are Included In The Terms Of The Benefits

  • Checked baggage fees
  • Overweight/oversize baggage fees
  • Change fees
  • Pet flight fees
  • Airport lounge day passes and annual memberships
  • Phone reservation fees
  • Seat assignment fees
  • Inflight amenity fees
    • Food & beverages
    • Headphones, etc.
  • Inflight entertainment fees
    • This DOES NOT include WiFi

These Fees Are Listed As NOT Eligible

  • Airfare / ticket purchases
  • Charges on airlines that are not your selected airline
  • Upgrades
  • Purchasing Miles
  • Anything purchased BEFORE you make your airline selection
  • Airline miles transfer fees
  • Gift cards
  • Duty-free purchases
  • Award tickets

A man carries 2 small suitcases through an empty airport hallway

What Actually Works For Amex Airline Incidental Credits / Reimbursements?

Now that we know what is listed as approved and what is “not” approved, what does this look like in practice? We all know there are the way terms are written and the way things really are. There are always things the slip through the cracks.

First off, anything listed on the approved list works, of course. If you can maximize your airline incidental credits with these options, that’s great. The reimbursements work with buy Spirit Airlines big front seats, the best deal in domestic airline travel. We will take a look at this airline by airline.

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

  • Main cabin extra purchased at check-in kiosk
  • First class upgrades purchased at check-in kiosk
  • Day passes to Admirals Club
  • Bar tab at Admirals Club
  • Mix reports on award ticket taxes/fees payments
  • Upgrade stickers (500-mile upgrades) have mixed reports
  • Miles + cash mixed payment for upgrades
  • Link to most recent data points

What Works Amex Airline Incidental

Delta Air Lines

  • Mixed reports of purchasing physical gift cards inside the Delta SkyClub at an airport
  • Companion ticket taxes
  • Split airfare purchases totaling under $250 on your card (must be paid partially with a gift card or e-credit + the rest on a credit card)
  • Comfort Plus upgrades have mixed reports but should be eligible if you ask via chat
  • Rare data points on Mileage Booster reimbursements
  • Award booking fees have mixed reports
  • Link to most recent data points

Frontier Airlines (Removed As An Option November 2022)

  • Discount Den membership
  • Airfare when under $50
  • Airfare paid with a mix of vouchers and credit card payment
  • Seat selection
  • Link to most recent data points

Hawaiian Airlines

  • Airfare payments under $50 or when combined with gift card to get it under $50
  • Extra comfort upgrades
  • Food & beverage on board
  • Seat upgrades
  • Link to most recent data points

JetBlue Airways

  • Airfare under $150
  • Paying taxes & fees on award bookings
  • Cancellation fees
  • Seat selection
  • Even More upgrades
  • Split airfare payments putting under $100 on your credit card and paying the rest with a voucher
  • Link to most recent data points

What Works Amex Airline Incidental

Spirit Airlines

Southwest Airlines

  • Airfare under $100
  • Early bird check-in, Award fees
  • Priority boarding group A1-15
  • Split payment of gift card and airfare under $100
  • In-flight drinks
  • Ticket change fee for fare difference
  • Rare reports of reimbursements on fares over $100
  • Link to most recent data points

United Airlines

  • Lounge passes
  • Upgrades
  • Same day flight changes
  • Seat upgrades at kiosk
  • Economy+ seats as long as they are under $150 (above that, Amex seems to think the fee is something else)
  • United Travel Bank (off and on sometimes)
  • Rare reports for in-flight WiFi
  • Link to most recent data points
Image of the entrance to an Amex lounge, a lounge type that does not work for airline incidental credits since it's not an airline lounge
Entrance (Image courtesy of American Express)

Final Thoughts

This is our best understanding of what still works for Amex airline incidental credits. There are ultra-rare reports you can find for other things, but 1 isolated person saying it worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for you.

A word of caution as your proceed: planning to use credits in ways that are not specifically mentioned in the terms is not a guaranteed success. While there are solid data points for items that we didn’t mark as “rare”, it’s not a 100% sure thing. Approach these opportunities as a bonus and be happy if you succeed, rather than assuming you’ll get a reimbursement and being disappointed when something in a gray area doesn’t work out for you.

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Miles to Memories
Miles to Memories
Fair and balanced credit card reviews with all of the information you need to know before applying.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Within the last week i had UA travel bank work and DL gift card to pay for part of fare then charge rest on platinum

  2. I’ve been surprised at how well I’ve been able to use Southwest. I felt I was taking a risk considering we’re generally better off using it on airlines for luggage and such, but between a trip change fee difference, and pending flight credit resulting in fares under $99, I’ve been able to use $146 so far. I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to wipe out the rest on a holiday flight. Of course, I won’t be able to bank on flight credits in future, so come January, I’ll have to reassess.

  3. I just bought a round-trip ticket on Frontier for $87.68 using a partial credit and got reimbursed. Frontier is now charging $99 for every cancellation (it used to be $0 if cancelled 60 days before travel) , so I don’t think cancelling for a credit is going to be a good option for the future.

  4. Under AS, does using some of you Wallet Balance count as a “gift card?” Or does it need to be a separate gift card applied at checkout?

  5. Do you have to make the upgrade after reserving the flights themselves? Or will AmEx somehow know to distinguish the fee from the total invoice?

  6. I didn’t have any issues triggering the benefit by upgrading my seats on American (with my vanilla platinum) and Delta (with my aspire) this year via the airline apps. No kiosk or chat needed, and the credits took about 3 business days to post.

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