Can I Use Airline Fee Credits With Partner Carriers?

Apr 4, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

One undeniable trend in credit card rewards is the proliferation of premium credit cards that offer luxury travel perks and carry annual fees of $250 or more. While each card has a slightly different structure, many will offset the annual cost by offering different types of credits during the year. TPG reader Joseph wants to know if these promotional airline credits can be transferred to alliance partners …

When you get an airline credit from a card like the Amex Gold or Platinum, can you transfer it to codeshare airlines? If I select United, can I use it on Star Alliance partners as well?

TPG READER JOSEPH

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a very broad annual travel credit that will automatically be applied to your first $300 spent on a variety of travel purchases, American Express offers more restrictive credits on many of its products. Cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card offer annual “airline incidental fee credits” each calendar year. These credits can’t be used towards the cost of airfare; they’re only applicable for incidental fees like checked bags, seat assignment, lounge access and more.

In order to use these credits, you have to log in to your Amex account and select a single airline for the year (which you can then change each January). Here’s why Joseph’s question is so important — the list of eligible airlines only includes American carriers:

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

Joseph may be able to use this credit for purchases on partners, but only if they are processed through his selected airline. American Express even says as much on the Platinum Card’s benefits page:

It doesn’t matter what airline operates your flight; the airline that charges your credit card is what determines eligibility for the credit.

In Joseph’s example, if he booked a Lufthansa-operated flight through United Airlines, he might be able to get reimbursed for incidental fees if United actually processes the charge. He should be careful though — purchases made at Lufthansa’s website, a Lufthansa counter at the airport or during flight wouldn’t code correctly. Again, if he can find a way to pay for seat assignments or other fees through United, he’d likely be good to go. Otherwise, he’s left to use the credits on United incidentals.

Bottom Line

I personally view American Express’ airline credits as good as cash. That being said, they aren’t as flexible as similar perks from other issuers, and anecdotal evidence indicates they’re getting even harder to use. Joseph is doing a good job thinking creatively, and he should be able to use his credits on partner flights as long as the incidental charges for which he’s seeking to get reimbursed are processed by his selected airline. If not, he’s out of luck.

Thanks for the question, Joseph, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured photo courtesy of Star Alliance.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.