Can I Use My Travel Credit to Cover Part of an Eligible Fee?

Jan 22, 2017

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TPG reader DC sent me a message on Facebook to ask about redeeming travel credits:

“I have $10 left on my Amex Platinum airline credit for Southwest Airlines. If I add Early Bird Check-In for an upcoming flight, will Amex reimburse me $10 of that $15 fee?”

Like most premium rewards cards, the Platinum Card from American Express offers a statement credit toward select travel purchases. This benefit is less enticing than others like it, since Amex caps the credit at $200 and excludes many charges (like airfare) that qualify on other cards. Nonetheless, redeeming the Amex credit is straightforward even if you’re using just a portion of it, or of it doesn’t cover the entire charge.

In DC’s case, he can use his Platinum card to pay for Early Bird Check-in, and the remaining $10 of his airline fee credit will be applied as reimbursement. The leftover $5 will simply be applied to his statement like a normal purchase. This specific example works because DC already selected Southwest as his airline of choice for the $200 credit, but the same general principle applies to eligible charges from other airlines. Also, note that Early Bird Check-In isn’t explicitly listed as an eligible expense, but in practice it qualifies as an airline incidental.

Similarly, you don’t have to use the Amex Platinum credit (or others like it) all at once. You can use it to cover smaller purchases like refreshments and other in-flight amenities, so you should be reimbursed even if you’re just paying a few dollars for a snack. So long as you haven’t redeemed the full amount, the benefit will continue to apply.

The Amex Platinum airline fee credit covers eligible purchases even if your remaining balance is less than the total cost.

These credits reset each calendar year, so now that we’ve reached 2017, Platinum cardholders should have another $200 to redeem. For more tips on how to maximize this benefit, 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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