American Express Airline Fee Credit Guide

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Several American Express credit cards offer an annual airline incidental fee credit, which can be used on things such as seat assignment fees, bag fees, in-flight food and drinks, and more.

This article will cover which cards offer the credit, what airlines you can choose, what is excluded, and some possible loopholes to the rule to help you better spend your credit.

What Amex Cards Offer an Airline Fee Credit?

These American Express credit cards each offer an annual $200 airline incidental fee credit:

Previously, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offered a $250 airline fee credit, but that credit was replaced starting in January 1, 2024, with a $50 quarterly flight credit (up to $200 per year).

Choosing an Airline Fee Credit

You are required to choose an airline from the following list for American Express airline fee credit: 

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

To select an airline, click this link and sign into your American Express account. 

That link will take your directly to the page to choose your airline fee credit.

You can switch between cards in the top right if you want to select the airline fee credit for your other eligible cards (Platinum, Hilton Aspire, or Gold). 

 

Amex Select Card

Charges to your account before selecting an airline are not eligible for the airline credit.

The credit resets every calendar year, so if you don’t use the credit, it gets reset on January 1st.

You can change your airline choice in January, but after January, you are stuck with your previous airline choice.

But if you have never made an airline choice, you can make an airline selection at any time.

Delta Airlines Plane Taking Off
Photo: Delta Air Lines

What is Officially Covered by the Fee Credit

American Express does not provide a full list of the eligible charges considered “airline incidental fees,” but the charges below are typically covered by the airline fee credit.

American Express states that “incidental airline fees must be separate charges from airline ticket charges,” so it is best not to add the fee when purchasing a ticket.

You may still request manual reimbursement if American Express fails to automatically reimburse the fee.

Seat Assignment Fees

Seat assignment fees for economy seats or premium economy seats are covered by the airline fee credit. 

These premium economy upgrades that are covered are to:

  • Alaska’s Premium Class (extra legroom).
  • American’s Main Cabin Extra.
  • Delta Comfort+.
  • JetBlue’s Even More Space.
  • United’s Economy Plus.
  • Spirit’s Big Front Seat.
However, upgrades from economy to first class are generally NOT covered by the annual fee credit.

Bag Fees

Checked bags and overweight bag fees are covered by the American Express airline fee credit.

However, most airline credit cards already offer free checked bags for you and your travel companions, including:

In-Flight Fees for Food, Drink, & Entertainment

Charges for airline food, drinks, and entertainment trigger the airline fee credit.

Charges for in-flight WiFi may not be covered if they are processed by third-parties.

Airport Lounge Memberships or Day Passes

You can purchase an annual membership or day pass to an airport lounge and get it covered by the Amex airline fee credit. 

Eligible lounges include:

Ticket Change Fees

Fees to change your flight are covered by the American Express annual credit, but any fees for difference in airfare are typically not covered.

Pet Fees

If you want to fly with your dog, your American Express’ annual credit will cover the charge. Pet fees are typically $125-200, so the American Express credit can come in handy if your dog or cat needs to fly.

American Airlines Main Cabin Extra

What is Officially Not Covered by the Fee Credit

The following fees are generally not covered by the American Express airline fee credit:

  • In-flight WiFi charges with third parties such as GoGo.
  • Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline.
  • Airline tickets.
  • Upgrades (e.g. from Economy to First Class).
  • Mileage points purchases.
  • Mileage points transfer fees.
  • Gift cards.
  • Duty-free purchases
  • Taxes and fees for award tickets.

What Unofficially Works for the Fee Credit

There are several different purchases that officially don’t qualify as reimbursable by the American Express airline credit, but nonetheless typically trigger the fee credit such as flights under $100 or upgrades.

These purchases are not guaranteed to work, but we provided links to FlyerTalk forum topics on each credit, so that you can review recent data points to see if anything has recently changed.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines flights under $50 to $100 or flights purchased with a combination of Alaska wallet funds plus an American Express card sometimes trigger the American Express airline fee credit.

Recent Data Points: FlyerTalk.

American Airlines

The following charges on American Airlines typically trigger the American Express airline fee credit:

  • Main Cabin Extra seat selection.
  • Mileage multiplier.
  • Upgrades to first class.
  • Award fees and taxes (50% of time).
  • Admirals Club food and drinks.
  • Five Star Service.

Recent Data Points: FlyerTalk.

Delta Airlines

Delta flights paid with both a gift card and American Express card will sometimes trigger the American Express airline fee credit. Other reimbursable items include award ticket fees and mileage boosts.

Recent Data PointsFlyerTalk.

Hawaiian Airlines

Upgrades to Extra Comfort seats on Hawaiian Airlines, award taxes and fees, and flights under $50 are typically reimbursable by the airline fee credit.

Recent Data PointsFlyerTalk.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue tickets below $150, taxes for award flights, and Extra Legroom seats purchased separately are typically reimbursable by the American Express airline fee credit.

Recent Data PointsFlyerTalk.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit’s Big Front Seat and their $9 Fare Club ($59.95 per year) is reimbursable by the airline fee credit. 

However, if you purchased bags or other fees bundled with your ticket because its cheaper at booking, you likely will need to request manual reimbursement with American Express. 

Recent Data PointsFlyerTalk.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest flights under $100, Upgraded Boarding, and “Early Bird” check-in are typically reimbursable by the American Express airline fee credit. 

Recent Data PointsFlyerTalk.

United Airlines

The best option to use your fee-credit is by funding your United TravelBank, which you can use to book flights. 

Other reimbursable items include:

Recent Data PointsFlyerTalk.

The Verdict

The American Express airline fee credit is not as easy to use as other cards, but there are still several good options to utilize the annual fee credit. 

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