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How to use your American Express travel credits

Whether you’re booking a flight or hotel stay, maximize your Amex travel credits.

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A few American Express credit cards offer travel credits, which can help you save on everything from flights and hotel stays to car rentals. They usually range from $100 to $300 in value and can help you offset your card’s annual fee.

How do American Express travel credits work?

Amex travel credits are relatively easy to use because you don’t have to apply them yourself. Typically, all you need to do is spend on eligible purchases with your American Express travel card. In two to 12 weeks, Amex will apply a statement credit to your account.

If you want to use property credits, they’ll be applied to your hotel bill as you check out.

What is statement credit?

Statement credit lowers your credit card balance. For example, if your balance is $1,000 and you apply a $200 statement credit, you now owe just $800.

Keep in mind that even if you apply statement credit, you typically must still make your minimum payment.

Types of American Express travel credits

Amex currently offers a few types of travel credits:

Qualifying airlines for Amex air travel credits

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Dining credits.

    These apply to spending at select dining partners. You’ll get access to your statement credit in monthly increments.

Qualifying partners for Amex dining credits

  • Grubhub
  • Seamless
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • Participating Shake Shack locations
  • Hotel credits.

    These apply to spending within a specified loyalty program — either Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors. You can use these for room rates, as well as incidentals you charge to your room and pay for with your card.

  • Property credits.

    These apply to either Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors, depending on your card. Charge eligible purchases to your room, and your credits will be applied to your bill when you check out.

    Unlike hotel credits, resort or property credits don’t apply to room rates.

  • Uber credits.

    Like with dining credits, you’ll get access to these credits in monthly increments. You can use these credits for UberEATS as well.

  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credits.

    TSA PreCheck and Global Entry get you through airport security lanes faster. Your Amex card may include credits that reimburse you after you apply for one of these programs.

Do travel credits expire?

Yes — you’ll receive a certain amount of travel credits every calendar year, after which they’ll expire. Try to use them by the end of December each year.

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry statement credits don’t expire. However, you’ll only get another one of them four or four and a half years after you’ve used a credit.

How to use your American Express travel credits

Airline fee credits

  1. Log in to your American Express account, scroll to the Benefits section and select one qualifying airline. Do this before you use your card for airline charges. You can change your qualifying airline once each year in January.
  2. Make eligible purchases with the qualifying airline. Your travel credits will cover eligible incidental fees. In some cases, gift cards are covered too, but this depends on how each airline codes its transactions. If you’re unsure, call your airline and ask.
  3. Wait for your statement credit to post. If you’ve made an eligible purchase, your statement credit will post to your account within two to four weeks.

Examples of purchases covered by your airline fee credit

  • Checked baggage
  • Overweight and oversize baggage charges
  • Phone reservation charges
  • Seat selection fees
  • Pet flight fees
  • In-flight amenities (e.g., food, beverages, headphones, etc.)
  • In-flight entertainment (not including Wi-Fi)
  • Airport lounge access and membership

Dining credits

  1. Log in to your Amex account and select the applicable card. Click More, then click Benefits. After that, select your dining credit benefit and enroll in the program.
  2. Use your card for an eligible purchase with a dining partner. Gift cards and merchandise don’t qualify.
  3. Wait for your statement credit to post. After your eligible purchase, your statement credit will post to your account within two to four weeks.

Hotel credits

  1. Make an eligible purchase with your card at a participating resort. Depending on your card, your hotel credit is valid at Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy properties. Your credit can be applied to room rates, as well as incidentals you charge to your room and pay for with your card.
  2. Wait for your statement credit to post. After your eligible purchase, your statement credit will post to your account within eight to 12 weeks.

Property credits

  1. Book a stay via an approved method. For Hilton Honors, book your room with your card through the loyalty program’s dedicated Amex portal or by calling 855-292-5757. Book a minimum stay of two nights at a participating property.

    For Marriott Bonvoy, book your room with your card through the program’s website or by calling 800-450-4442. Book a minimum stay of two nights at a participating property.

  2. Charge eligible purchases to your room. Your property credit is good for hotel incidentals, but does not cover property fees, taxes, gratuities or room rates.
  3. Check out. When you check out, your credit will be applied to your bill. Pay with your Amex hotel card.
Eligible properties for Hilton Honors
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
  • Conrad Hotels & Resorts
Eligible properties for Marriott Bonvoy
  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • St. Regis

Uber credits

  1. Link your Amex card to your Uber account. To receive credits, your Amex card must be listed as a method of payment.
  2. Before the end of your Uber fare or before placing your UberEATS order, select Uber Cash as your payment method. Amex credits go to your Uber Cash balance.

How to use your TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit

  1. Apply for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Pay for your application fee with your Amex card.
  2. Wait for your statement credit to post. After the application fee is charged to your account, Amex will post a statement credit to your account within eight weeks.

American Express credit cards that offer travel credits

At the time of writing, the following American Express credit cards come with travel credits:

Card Travel credits Annual fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • $200 annual airline fee credit
  • $200 annual Uber credits
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit
$550 (see rates & fees)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • $200 annual airline fee credit
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit
$595(see rates & fees)
American Express® Gold Card
  • $100 annual airline fee credit
  • $120 annual dining credit
$250 (see rates & fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
  • $300 annual Marriott Bonvoy statement credit
  • $100 annual Marriott Bonvoy property credit
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit
$450(see rates & fees)
Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card
  • $250 annual Hilton Resort statement credit
  • Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card annual airline fee credit
  • $100 annual Hilton on-property credit
$450
American Express® Green Card
  • $100 annual credit for CLEAR membership
  • $100 annual credit for LoungeBuddy purchases
$150 (see rates & fees)

Please note: All information about Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, American Express® Green Card and Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card has been collected independently by Finder and these cards are not available through this site.

You’ll also find select credits with the American Express® Business Gold Card and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, as well as The Centurion® Card from American Express and its business and corporate versions.

Compare Amex travel rewards cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 15x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases. Starting January 1, 2021, your 15x points on flights will be capped on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points).
$550
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Rates & fees
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021)
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
$450
Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 or more within your first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021). Rates & fees
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
With a welcome offer worth up to $600, up to 2x miles on select purchases, and assorted Delta perks, this is a strong choice for Delta fans. Rates & fees
Hilton Honors American Express Card
80,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
$0
With a massive welcome offer for a no-annual-fee card and up to 7x points at Hilton, this is a solid pick for Hilton fans and occasional travelers. Rates & fees
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Pros and cons of American Express travel credits

Now that you know how Amex travel credits work, let’s weigh a few of the positives and negatives of using them.

Pros

  • Offset your card’s annual fee. Travel credits can reduce the effective cost of your card, making the card potentially attractive even if the sticker price seems high.
  • Cut travel costs. Travel credits are especially useful if you know you’ll travel or spend on certain incidentals.
  • Easy to use. Because credits come in the form of statement credit, they’ll automatically be applied to your account.

Cons

  • No points earned. In contrast to paying with your Amex card, you won’t earn points when you use travel credits to pay for purchases.
  • You may need to wait for credits to apply. It may take up to 12 weeks for your statement credit to show up on your account.
  • Use it or lose it. Besides TSA PreCheck and Global Entry credits, travel credits don’t roll over year to year. If you don’t use them, you’re essentially paying full price for your card.

Bottom line

Using American Express travel credits can be a great way to get extra value from your credit card. Before using them, understand how they work and what restrictions they carry.

If you’re not sure an Amex product is right for you, consider other travel credit cards.

Images: Shutterstock/Getty Images

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