Can I Use Airline Fee Credits With Partner Carriers?

Apr 4, 2019

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“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. Enrollment required. 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.

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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.