Do Travel Statement Credits Cover Elite Status Renewal Fees?
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TPG reader Bo sent me a message on Facebook to ask about Amex benefits:
“Does the $100 travel credit on the Premier Rewards Gold card cover AAdvantage status renewal fees?”
A lot of the top rewards cards offer statement credits for select travel purchases, which can help you offset a significant portion of your annual fee. Some of these benefits are very easy to redeem, while others are less straightforward. In either case, it's helpful to have a sense of which purchases will qualify so your credits don't go unused.
American Express definitely falls on the more restrictive end of the spectrum. The benefit terms for the Premier Rewards Gold Card (and others) list a variety of charges that are ineligible for statement credits, such as actual airfare and paid upgrades. You'll also find a short list of charges that are eligible, like checked bag fees and in-flight refreshments. However, those lists don't cover all the bases, since many charges (like lounge access) aren't mentioned at all.
The good news is that many of those unmentioned charges do qualify for a statement credit. There's anecdotal evidence that the benefit covers fees for initiating a status challenge, so it seems plausible that it would also work for status renewal fees. However, renewing your status will probably cost at least $500, and larger charges may be less likely to trigger a statement credit automatically.
In practice, the credit has worked even for certain "ineligible" purchases (such as gift cards), so you can't rely entirely on the stated terms. If you don't receive the credit for a fee you think is eligible, try calling Amex to plead your case. There's no guarantee you'll get it, but if you're going to pay for the status renewal anyway, you're not risking much by trying.
You'll have an easier time redeeming the $300 annual travel credit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve, since it covers a much broader range of expenses. The same goes for the $250 air travel credit from the Citi Prestige Card, which only applies to airline purchases, but is still much easier to redeem than the ones from Amex.