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TPG reader Louis sent me a message on Facebook to ask about getting into the Admiral’s Club:

“Can I use the airline fee credit on my Amex Platinum card to get into the American Airlines lounge in Chicago?”

There are a number of travel rewards cards that offer credits for airline incidentals. These can help you cover expenses like checked bag fees, in-flight purchases and even airfare itself in some cases. Each card has its own rules about which purchases are eligible, and airline incidentals tend to be non-refundable, so it’s important to know whether your benefits apply before you pay.

The Platinum Card from American Express offers an annual $200 airline fee credit, which goes a long way toward offsetting the annual fee. The benefit terms don’t specify which purchases are eligible to redeem the credit, but both lounge day passes and annual membership fees have qualified in practice.

Amex Platinum offers several other opportunities for lounge access, since you get Priority Pass Select access and complimentary admission to Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), in addition to the Amex Centurion Lounges. Unfortunately, there’s no Centurion Lounge in Chicago (though O’Hare would be a great addition to the network), and the two Priority Pass lounges at ORD only serve passengers flying internationally from Terminal 5. In those circumstances, an Admirals Club day pass is a decent option.

One thing to keep in mind is that you have to first select an airline before you redeem your airline fee credit, and you’ll only be reimbursed for qualifying purchases from that airline. If American is your carrier of choice, then you’ll get credit for passes to the Admirals Club (up to the $200 limit). You can change your selection at the start of each year, but if you’ve selected another airline for 2016, then charges from American won’t be eligible.

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You can use the Amex Platinum airline fee credit to pay for lounge access, but only with your designated carrier.

Finally, consider whether lounge access is worth the price of a day pass. Domestic lounges can be pretty underwhelming, but can still be a nice break from the terminal during a long layover. If you anticipate needing lounge access more than once in the near future, a 30-day membership is a better bet. American will discontinue these soon, but memberships purchased before July 24, 2016 will be honored for the normal duration.

For more on Amex Platinum benefits and Admirals Club lounges, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

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CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

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