Last Call: Use Up Your Annual Credit Card Travel Credits Before Years End (Many Count Per Calendar Year)

The calendar year 2018 comes to an end in seven days from now so there’s still some time to go to use up all travel credits that are attached to your credit card accounts.

Many of these credits are based on the calendar year so if you don’t use them right now they will disappear into thin air and you lose them.

Many premium credit cards in the U.S. market and abroad as well nowadays offer an annual travel credit that ranges between $100-$300 in value and that can be used in many different ways (some more flexible than others).

While many card products officially say they allow the credits to be used for incidentals such as baggage fees, upgrades and lounge passes it’s often possible to also use the credits for gift cards which then in turn can be turned into flexible free flights that also collect miles.

American Express offers this Airline Fee Credit in the form of a reimbursement after transactions are charged to the eligible card account and it works quite well for example with American Airlines gift cards in amounts of up to $100 (the Platinum Card) has a $200 annual credit that runs based on the calendar year which means if you have a new card account you can actually get the credit twice within the first year.

Other cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve have a $300 travel credit which is generally more flexible:

Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.

Any purchases (not just ” airlines incidentals” in these categories will be automatically adjusted until the $300 are used up, however the credit runs per revolving card member anniversary so even the first year you can only get it once.

Check if your card has an annual allowance for travel credits and then the expiry date of it.

I previously used my 2018 $200 American Express credit from the Platinum Card for 2x $100 gift cards on American Airlines and the purchases were adjusted automatically roughly a week later. I then redeemed the gift cards for a domestic ticket to Los Angeles this week which was quite convenient.

I also bought a US$50 Saks Fifth Ave gift card at a physical store (in Las Vegas) and the credit was applied as well. Be careful with this: There are reports that purchasing a gift card online will not trigger the adjustment.


These travel credits are quite useful if you make apply them properly and with so many different credit card products around that most of us carry in our wallet it pays off to know all benefits associated with each card. It would be a shame if these credits would go unused.

Keep in mind it takes a few days until the charge actually hits your account and then another 2-3 days to get your adjustment so yeah, it’s really the last chance right now if your benefits are based on the calendar year!

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