Credit Cards

7 Ways to Use Your Credit Card Airline Fare Credit

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Your fare credit could improve the quality of your flight.

Key points

  • Airline fare credits do not cover flights, upgrades, gift cards or mileage purchases.
  • Eligible rates may include checked bag fees, pet fees, and lounge access, among others.

Luxury travel rewards cards have a ton of great perks that can save you time, money, or just make your trip more enjoyable. But the quality of those benefits depends entirely on whether you can actually use them.

One benefit that’s appearing more and more, especially on American Express cards, is a statement credit for incidental airline charges. With this credit, you select an airline of your choice from the list (which typically covers most major domestic airlines), then you can earn a statement credit when you use your eligible card for eligible airline fares.

On the surface, this sounds a bit good; after all, flying these days tends to come with a lot of fees. Unfortunately, the long list of ineligible purchases can make this credit less valuable than it seems. Typical things that are NOT eligible for reimbursement include:

  • plane tickets
  • Seating upgrades
  • Gift cards
  • Award tickets or fees
  • Buy frequent flyer miles
  • Fees for transferring frequent flyer miles
  • Fares on any airline other than the selected airline
  • Fees collected before selecting an airline

Also, the moratorium on airline ticket costs extends to anything else you buy at the same time. So even if the fare is something that would normally be covered, if it’s part of the same purchase as your air ticket, it won’t count. For example, if you purchase your ticket and pay your checked baggage fee at the same time, your airline fare credit will likely not be applied to your baggage fee.

Since this list covers many of the key things you might think of using airline credit for, what good is it? Well, there are still some valuable ways to use your credit:

1. Checked Baggage Fees

Most airlines today charge a penny for each checked bag; it’s not uncommon to spend $35 or more to carry your bag when you fly. Most airline fare credits will cover the cost of your checked baggage, including overweight or oversize fees. However, as stated above, make sure you pay that fee separately from your ticket purchase.

2. Passes to the airport lounge

Once you spend your wait in an airport lounge instead of sitting in front of the gate, you’ll never want to go back. While many airline fare credit cards also come with airport lounge access, that access only goes so far. Instead, use your rate credit to cover lounge access for you or your guests.

3. Seat assignment fees

Some airlines make you pay an additional fee just to select where you want to sit, or it is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis at boarding. If the idea of ​​round robin doesn’t appeal to you, it may be worth paying that fee, especially if the airline fare credit will pay you back. As with other fees, please pay this fee separately from your flight purchase to ensure you qualify for the credit.

4. Itinerary change fees

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, things happened that changed their plans. Some airlines still have COVID-era waivers for change fees, but many don’t. Either way, your change fee is likely covered by the airline’s fare credit.

5. Pet flight fares

Flying with a pet is rarely ideal, but sometimes it’s necessary. Of course, necessary does not always mean affordable. On the plus side, most airline fare credits will cover the cost of flying with your furry friend.

6. Food and beverage purchases during the flight

Although airline food is the butt of many jokes, sometimes you have to eat what you have to eat. Or maybe you just need that post-takeoff cocktail to get past the screaming baby (or, these days, the ranting adult) three rows back. In both cases, your in-flight food and beverage purchases generally count toward the airline’s fare credit.

7. Telephone reservation fees

Booking online is great, but there are times you just need to talk it over with a human. Unfortunately, the human option can sometimes have an additional fee, although it is usually covered by the airline’s fare credit.

gaps and maybe

In general, there are many fairly affordable ways to use airline fare credit. This includes a number of options to make your entire travel experience more enjoyable.

Depending on the forum you join, you’ll hear of a few other ways to use your credit that may not be on this list. As with most things in life, loophole seekers have found a few ways to game the airlines’ fare credit system to get around the rules.

Use these methods at your own risk.

Sure, it could work, and that would be wonderful. But it may not, leaving you high and dry. At worst, your card company may object to your attempt to circumvent the rules and not only get your credit back, but also consider closing your accounts to prevent further nonsense.

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