Best Ways To Use American Express Airline Fee Credits

One of the top perks offered by American Express is the airline fee credits offered on cards like the Platinum Card, Gold Card, and Hilton Aspire Card. This airline fee credit covers incidental fees such as baggage, flight changes, and in-flight refreshments. However, there is a way that you can use this fee in order to pay for flights directly.


There are four Amex cards that currently offer an airline fee credit:

This credit can only be used with one airline of your choice. When you first sign up for one of these cards you get the chance to pick which airline you would like to designate the credit towards. You are only able to change the airline once a year in the month of January, although data points suggest if you call in to American Express the customer service representative may change the airline for you at any point throughout the year..

The intent behind this credit is to cover fees charged by airlines such as baggage, flight changes, and in-flight refreshments. etc. This credit can be useful if you are flying on low cost carriers such as Frontier or Spirit, airlines that charge quite a bit for bags and change fees.


While covered baggage and flight change fees are great, you can actually use this credit in order to pay for flights directly through the use of gift cards. There are currently three airlines that you can buy gift cards for that will trigger the airline fee credit:

  • American Airlines

  • Delta Airlines ($50 limit)

  • Southwest

As of January 2019 there are new data points to suggest that American Airlines gift cards may not trigger the credit, so I would avoid picking AA just to be safe.

If you decide to choose Delta, be sure to use and avoid buying gift cards on a mobile device. If you purchase Delta gift cards through Cash Star, the first link that appears on Google when searching Delta gift cards, you will NOT trigger the airline credit.


It is also important to note that you need to buy Delta gift cards in $50 increments, if you purchase gift cards in any higher amount, the credit will not trigger. For example, if you have the Hilton Aspire Card, you can buy 5 $50 gift cards at once, but if you buy one $250 gift card, you will not be reimbursed.

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As you can see from my Hilton Aspire statement above, when you purchase 5 $50 gift cards from Delta with the Aspire Card, each gift card will code as its own transaction and you will be reimbursed the full $250.

Southwest is the easiest airline option, as you can just buy one gift card for $250, $200, or $100 depending on which card you have and you will be reimbursed by the credit.


In order to make the most out of the Amex airline fee credit, choose one of the three airlines listed above (preferably Southwest and Delta) and take advantage of $100-$250 of free flights each calendar year. And keep in mind this gift card workaround is always changing, so each January before purchasing airline gift cards, make sure to check back to Rethink Travel to ensure each option is still viable.

Have you utilized the gift card workaround for the Amex airline fee credit? Comment down below and let me know your experience!

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