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This article was last updated Oct 01, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
Are you tired of paying airline fees for doing just about anything but breathe? American Express®, Chase, Citibank®, Mastercard® and Visa® offer credit cards that come with airline fee credits to help offset those pesky charges.
These credits can be used to cover extras, such as a checked bag, an airport lounge membership or a seat upgrade. But behind the promise of airline fee credits is the fine print regulating how and when these fee credits apply. Below we look at what this means for cardholders.
Credit cards offering airline fee credits
Be sure to check your card’s terms and conditions for full details.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
Cardholders receive a statement credit of up to $100 every calendar year to cover qualifying airline incidental fees. Qualifying transactions include seat upgrades, ticket change and cancellation fees, checked baggage fees, in-flight entertainment, onboard food and beverage charges and airport lounge fees. But you can’t use the credit for airline tickets, mileage point purchases and transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases, award tickets and airline alliance partner fees. The airlines must submit fee charges under the appropriate merchant codes in order for cardholders to qualify for the credit. Plus, you’ll receive an airport security statement credit of up to $100 to use toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every four years.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Use this card’s $300 annual travel credit toward travel purchases, including airline and baggage fees. Typically, only travel purchases count towards the annual travel credit; however, from June 1 through Dec. 31, gas station and grocery store purchases will also count towards the credit, as well as earn points for those purchases. Once you earn the $300 travel credit, you will begin earning the three-point rate on travel purchases. The terms of the credit are pretty straightforward — they rely on merchant codes in order to classify which category a purchase falls into. That means in order to receive the credit, the merchant has to classify the purchase as ‘travel’ (Chase doesn’t determine this).
Citi Prestige® Credit Card: This Citi card, upgraded on Jan. 4, 2019, now comes with a $250 annual credit that can be used for any travel-related purchase including airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies/travel aggregators/tour operators, commuter transportation, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, cruise lines, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages and and bus lines.
Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card: Not only does this card come with a $250 yearly statement credit to cover qualifying airline fees, it also offers a statement credit of up to $550 a year to cover the membership fee for airlines’ airport lounges. But you only get the airport lounge credit if you spend at least $50,000 a year on the card. The card defines qualified purchases as ticket change/cancellation fees, checked baggage fees, in-flight entertainment, onboard food and beverage charges, airport lounge membership fees and day passes and onboard wireless charges (excluding Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi). Merchants are responsible for correctly identifying the transactions under the appropriate codes in order for cardholders to get the credit.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard® credit card: Cardholders receive a $100 annual air travel credit to cover charges including airline tickets, seat upgrades, baggage fees or in-flight purchases. Be sure and check that the proper merchant category code is being used to receive credit for travel transactions.
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: After choosing one airline, this card offers statement credits of up to $250 per calendar year to cover incidental air travel fees. The credits don’t cover items including in-flight Wi-Fi, fees charged by airline alliance partners, airline tickets, seat upgrades, mileage points purchases and transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases and award tickets. Make sure the airline uses the appropriate merchant code to ensure you receive your credit.
PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card: Receive statement credits of up to $100 per calendar year to cover incidental air travel fees when using the card. Incidental air travel fees must be charged on the eligible card account by the following U.S. airlines: American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and Allegiant Air. Fees covered include baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases, airport lounge day passes, pet kennel fee and phone reservation fees. This card doesn’t cover airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases and points transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases and award tickets. You won’t receive a fee credit if the airline doesn’t use the correct merchant code.
The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card: The card comes with an annual $300 credit, but there’s a catch — you must call 1-855-896-2222 after using your card each time in order to get that credit for purchases including baggage fees, seat upgrades and lounge memberships or passes.
U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card: Receive a travel credit of up to $325 when using the card for purchases including airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains and cruise lines. Credits are based on what merchants classify as travel.
American Express cards offering airline fee credits
American Express® Gold Card
35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.*
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, and 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Up to $100 per year for incidentals*
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for American Express® Gold Card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.*
Up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees & more at one qualifying airline*
No foreign transaction fees & exclusive airport lounge access*
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more when you select one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points*
Complimentary access to over 1000+ airport lounges*
Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more*
- Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express is now offering up to a $100 statement credit with its American Express® Gold Card and up to a $200 statement credit for The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Premier credit cards have never been known to come without an annual fee, so the American Express® Gold Card comes with a $250 annual fee. The two Platinum offers come with annual fees of $550 and $595 respectively.
Cardholders of these premier credit cards must first designate a single airline that will be eligible for fee credits, which can only be done by the primary account holder. Although you can choose from most domestic carriers, you don’t have the option to pick a foreign airline carrier. Once chosen, most non-ticket charges you make with your card will result in an automatic fee credit, up to the annual limit. Additional limitations include:
- Additional cardholders are eligible for statement credit towards the account;
- Incidental airline fee charges must be made as separate purchases from the airline ticket;
- Fees not charged by the cardholders airline of choice will not qualify for a statement credit;
- Airlines must submit the charge under the correct merchant code to identify the purchase as an incidental air travel fee, and;
- Statement credits are applied to your Pay In Full balance, and excluded from the Pay Over Time feature.
With this program, eligible charges include lounge memberships and entry fees, baggage fees, seat selection fees, and in-flight food. Charges such as ticket purchases, first class upgrade fees, gift cards, award tickers, and third-party Wifi services are excluded. This benefit works on a calendar year basis, so each year on January 1st you are able to select a different airline and you have access to the full amount of your fee credit for the year.
To see rates & fees for American Express® Gold Card please click here.
To see rates & fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please click here.
To see rates & fees for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express please click here.
Credit card fee credits for TSA Precheck, Global Entry Program
Want to cut down your wait at security check or customs? These credit cards offer up to $100 credit toward enrollment fees for Global Entry and TSA Precheck:
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Citi Prestige® Credit Card
- PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card
- The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card
- U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
Note that the Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card only covers the Global Entry program.
Global Entry, operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB), offers expedited processing at airports when arriving from an international flight, while TSA Precheck offers expedited domestic security screening. Both U.S. CPB and the Transportation Security Administration charge an application fee, which means you don’t get a refund if your application is denied for any reason. However, you will still be automatically issued up to a $100 credit if you charge this fee to your card even if you are denied.
The bottom line
Airline fee credits are a valuable benefit being offered by a growing number premium rewards credit card offers. By understanding how these fees work, you can gain the maximum value from using them to make your travel purchases.
The information related to the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express and The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.