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How To Use Your Amex Airline Incidental Fee Credits – What Works? [2023]

- Nov 28, 2023 Credit Card Info, Travel0 comments

The end of the calendar year is getting closer and you might have incidental fee credits expiring!  The Amex Platinum cards (all flavors) offer a $200 credit called “airline incidental fee reimbursement”. I’m getting a lot of questions on what works and what does not work to trigger the credit. So here, I collected data points of things that still trigger the credit. 

Incidental charges- what are they?

Incidental fees are costs of items and/or services that are not part of the airline ticket. These are extra fees that you pay and with the incidental fee credit you later get reimbursed by Amex for them.

Which Amex cards have them?

American Express Platinum Personal and business cards offer up to $200 per year in airline fee reimbursements. Similarly, the Hilton Honors Amex Aspire Card offers up to $250 per year in airline fee reimbursements (ending 12/31/23).

Amex airline fee credits are offered by calendar year. For example, Platinum cardholders can get up to $200 in fee credits for charges made up until December of this year, and $200 more for charges made from January of the next calendar year. It’s a “use it or lose it”  situation.

First choose an airline

Before getting started, you need to make sure to select the airline where you would like to redeem the credit. These credits will only work on the one airline of your choice, which you can choose once per year- in January (as a courtesy, Amex will very often allow you to change the airline even mid-year). 

To choose an airline, go to www.americanexpress.com/airlinecreditchoice.  

You can choose any of the following U.S. airlines:

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

Eligible purchases (the boring ones)

Legitimate incidental fees can be any of the following:

  • Baggage fees (extra luggage, overweight, etc.)
  • Flight change fees or award redeposit fees
  • Airport lounge passes or memberships
  • Seat upgrades
  • In-flight beverages and food
  • WIFI -only with United Airlines
  • Pet fees
  • Phone reservation fees

Eligible purchases (the exciting ones)

In the past, it was very easy to maximize the credit – even on non-incidental fees. How? Purchasing airline gift cards (or some other non-incidental fees) triggered the incidental fee credit, for some reason. You were able to max out the credit without even stepping foot onto a plane. (For example, you were able to buy a Delta gift card and cash it at Cardpool).

Now, before you start building castles in the “air”,  just know that Amex has cracked down on most non-legit ways of using the credits.  

Here are some non-incidental fees that STILL work (listed per airline).

United Airlines

  • You can fund your United Travel bank account to use for future travel within the next 5 years (if you get an error try to first save your card as a payment method and then try again. Some have reported better results when saving the card in the United app). Charge only $100 to your United Travel bank at a time for Platinum cards, one after the other (because there’s no $200 option), or $250 a single time for the Aspire card. 
  • Inflight Wi-Fi

American Airlines

  • Award taxes and fees count roughly half the time.
  • Buy a cheap ticket (that you don’t want) and then change it to a more expensive ticket (that you do want) and pay the difference with your Amex card (less than $200).
  • Inflight Wi-Fi subscriptions, but not day or flight passes.
  • Admirals Club day passes and memberships.

Delta Airlines

  • Airfare that is paid partially with a gift card/travel credit and partially  with your Amex card (less than $200 for Platinum cards, $250 for Aspire cards).
  • Changing an existing booking to another flight that costs more (less than $200 for Platinum cards, $250 for Aspire cards).

Alaska Airlines

  • Award redeposit fees.
  • Airfare under $100 (you can buy any ticket under $100 and refund it for a credit to use for a future flight within 12 months).
  • Pay for a flight partially with Alaska wallet funds and the remainder with your credit card (less than $200 for Platinum cards, $250 for Aspire cards).

JetBlue Airlines

  • Buy airfare under $137 (you can buy any ticket under $137 and refund it for a credit to use for a future flight within 12 months). 
  • Seat selection (in a separate transaction from the original ticket purchase).

Southwest Airlines

  • Airfare or split airfare under $109 (you can buy any ticket under $109 and refund it for a credit to use for a future flight within 12 months).
  • Tickets paid for partially with travel certificates and the rest with your credit card, under $109.
  • Award taxes and fees.

Hawaiian Airlines

  • Buy airfare where the total charge is under $50.
  • Extra Comfort seat fees, as long as they’re under $200.

Spirit Airlines

  • Spirit Saver Pass membership fees will be reimbursed, including 12, 18, and 24 month opti​​ons.
  • Big Front Seat fees purchased after the ticket is issued.

Donating your credit

In the past (and this year as well), I donated my Platinum credits to a great organization called Miles For Life. The credits benefit sick kids who need to fly for medical emergencies. They cover the airfare through donated miles and use these incidental fee credits to cover expenses like extra baggage, seat upgrades, etc, to help the sick fly more comfortably, for free. For me personally, this is the best thing I can do with my unused credits. If you want to donate your credits, visit them on the web at milesforlife.org

Good luck redeeming your incidental fees!


Thanks to the great Matthew Wood from Miles Earn And Burn for working with us to put together this post.

Frequently asked questions
How can I use the Amex airline fee credits when I can’t travel?
You can donate it to the organization Miles For Life. They use the credit to help sick people fly comfortably, for free.
Can I use the Amex airline credit for gift cards?
This option used to be available, but unfortunately, it no longer is (since mid-2019). See the above question for options on using the credit fee if not traveling.
How do I select the airline to redeem credits with?
Log in to your Amex account a. Select Benefits b. Select Airline Fee Credits c. Click Learn More d. Select airline All done! Every January, log in to your Amex account and select the airline of your choice.It will automatically use the airline you checked off the previous year, unless you change it manually.
When an airline credit card gives me my first checked bag free, do I get a free bag even if my first bag is anyway free (included in the ticket)?
No. It's only your first bag free in a case that they charge for your first bag. If your first bag is anyway free (for example international flights) then you don't get your second bag free

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Sam Sam has nearly a decade's worth of experience educating his many readers on everything credit. Sam spends his days checking out credit cards for a full report, from the minute benefit details to the shebang of welcome bonuses. Plus studying the ins and outs of building proper credit. It’s his favorite pastime and he loves sharing it with others.

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