The airline credits are one of the perks that American Express has. Some people are leaving money on the table because of the restrictions on these. We want to help you maximize your credits by showing you what works for Amex airline credits. There are some options that aren't obvious. Make sure you get a big chunk of your yearly fees back by taking a look at all the angles.

Use up any credits you have left over the next week.

Which American Express Cards Have Airline Fee Reimbursements?

Before we talk about what works, we need to know which American Express credit cards offer these Amex airline credits. Here is a list of the current cards that reimburse airline fees.

It is possible to get two credits in the first year of card membership. If you open a card in September, you can use a credit before December 31 and then use another in the beginning of the following year, before your next fee is due.

Be Sure To Select Your Airline Before Making Any Purchases

Now that we know which American Express cards have airline credits, it's important to make sure you use them correctly.

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

Click on the link to select your airline.

You need to know if you can use the credit for frequent flyer miles. The credit works the best for you, so some of that will depend on that.

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

What Should Work For Amex Airline Incidental Credits?

Things that should not work for the airline fee reimbursements have been listed by American Express.

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?

What does this look like in practice now that we know what approved and not approved are. The way terms are written and the way things are are known to us. Things slip through the cracks

Anything listed on the approved list can work. These options can help you maximize your airline credits. The best deal in domestic airline travel is buying big front seats. This airline will be looked at by us.

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)

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

We know what works for Amex airline credits. One isolated person saying a report 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. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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