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It’s a new year, and I think most of us are quite ready to say goodbye to 2020. Even though, as my daughter put it when she woke up on New Year’s Day – “looks pretty much the same as last year…”. We have covered our (not) travels from 2020 and looked forward to traveling in 2021. As the calendar ticks over to a new year, it’s also time to review and use all of your calendar year-based credits, including Amex airline incidental credits.

What are Amex Airline Incidental Credits?

Amex Airline Incidental Credits are credits associated with specific American Express cards. Each of the Amex cards with airline incidental credits gets a certain amount that you can use to offset fees for things like luggage fees, seat selection fees or other airline incidentals. You have to choose a specific airline to activate your American Express airline incidental credit, and incidental charges will only be reimbursed for that specific airline.

Which cards get Amex Airline Incidental Credits?

There are four different Amex cards currently that get an American Express airline incidental credit:

  • American Express Platinum Card – $550 annual fee and a $200 airline incidental credit
  • American Express Business Platinum – $595 annual fee and a $200 airline incidental credit
  • Hilton Honors Aspire – $450 annual fee and a $250 airline incidental credit
  • American Express Gold Card – $250 annual fee and a $100 airline incidental credit

It’s important to note that the airline incidental fee credit on the American Express Gold Card is being phased out for a new monthly Uber / Uber Eats credit. Gold Card cardholders are still eligible for the $100 in 2021 but won’t be in 2022. Details on when the monthly Uber credit for Gold Card cardholders will start have not yet been announced.

What Can Amex Airline Fee Credits Be Used For?

Amex Airline Fee credits can be used for a variety of costs that come incidental to flying. Notably they can NOT be used for airfare itself, or to pay the taxes and fees associated with an award ticket. Here are the exact terms and conditions of the $100 airline fee credit that comes with the American Express Gold Card.

“Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees, such as baggage fees and other incidentals, are charged by the airline to your American Express® Gold Card”

[SEE ALSO: How to use your Amex Platinum $200 airline credit.]

In the past, you could often buy airline gift cards and get them reimbursed. Gift cards were technically not included in the terms of but you would still be reimbursed in many cases. In 2021, buying gift cards generally no longer works. One way that you can try and figure out what things are qualifying as reimbursements is to look at the appropriate airline forum at Flyertalk to see recent reports of what has or has not worked. You can find the threads in the American Express subforum at Flyertalk. Given American Express’s willingness (or even eagerness!) at shutting accounts down, I would tread cautiously with using your airline incidental credits for things that are not in the terms.

In addition to airline incidental fee credits, many American Express and other credit cards offer different other annual credits, such as dining credits, Uber credits and other one-time or recurring credits.

Registering For Amex Airline Incidental Credits and choosing your airline

Like many other types of credits, you do need to register for the American Express airline incidental fee credit. One thing that is different about the airline incidental fee credit from other types of credits is that you have to specify a specific airline for the credit. You have 9 different domestic airlines that you can choose from when picking your credit: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

You have to choose your airline before making the purchase in order for it to be eligible. For existing cardholders, your airline selection will be kept from 2020, but you can change it through January 31. After that, officially you can’t change it for the rest of the calendar year, though I have heard reports of Amex customer service agents allowing you to change it mid-year if you ask.

It’s also important also to note that the American Express Business Platinum card gets a 35% rebate on points redemptions. For economy flights, this benefit only works on the same airline you choose for your incidental airline fee credits. You also get the rebate on premium cabin redemptions on any airline. So it’s important to keep that in mind when choosing your airline if you have the Business Platinum card.

The Bottom Line

Amex airline fee credits can be a good way to offset some of the annual fee amount from several different American Express credit cards. You do need to register for the benefit as well as choose a specific airline before you make a purchase in order for it to be reimbursed. The Amex airline incidental fee credit is designed to be used for purchases such as seat selection fees, luggage fees and other types of airline purchases. It cannot be used for airfare or taxes and fees paid to an airline when redeeming award tickets.

What are you doing with your 2021 Amex Airline Incidental Fee credits?

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