Home Comparing Benefits How to Put Credit Card Travel Credits to Good Use in 2020

How to Put Credit Card Travel Credits to Good Use in 2020

It’s time to take advantage of a new year of travel credits on your elite credit card

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Take advantage of your credit card's travel credits in 2020
Take advantage of your credit card's travel credits in 2020
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One of the many perks of top-tier credit cards is an annual travel credit to help soften the blow of a large annual fee. While travel credits are major selling points for elite credit cards, many card users never actually end up using them! Here’s what you need to know so you don’t become part of that statistic and don’t miss out on your 2020 travel credits.

Register your Amex cards now

While both The American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express grant generous airline fee credits per calendar year ($100 and $200, respectively), said travel credits are notoriously the credit card industry’s hardest to redeem. Why? Amex travel credits are good only for specific incidental fees and can be redeemed for purchases on a single United States–based airline. You must select an airline between January 1 and January 31 as the airline for redeeming your travel credits, a decision that will stick with you throughout the year (Note: If you already chose an airline the year prior, that airline will have rolled over into 2020).

As per American Express these eligible incidental fees include: checked baggage fees (including overweight/oversize), itinerary change fees, phone reservation fees, Pet flight fees, seat assignment fees, in-flight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, headphones), in-flight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet because it’s not charged by the airline), and airport lounge day passes & annual memberships. Airline credits post two to four weeks after the qualifying incidental air travel fee is charged. However, we’ve found that most times incidental charges may not be coded correctly, requiring a phone call or online chat to have a representative manually post the credit.

While it may seem like a pain to redeem your Amex airline fee credits, don’t miss out on redeeming them!

Charge any kind of travel to your Citi Prestige® Card

This card provides an annual travel credit of $250 per calendar year valid toward any purchase categorized as “Travel” by Citi and its merchants. Easy peasy. All “travel” charges, including airfare, baggage fees, flight upgrades, lounge access, hotels, ride shares, and car rental services count towards statement credits, with no enrollment necessary. Statement credits are automatically applied, one to two billing cycles after the qualifying travel fee is charged, maxing out at $250 per calendar year. Huzzah!

Book airfare with Mastercard® Black Card™ and Mastercard® Gold Card™

Mastercard Black Card provides an annual air travel credit of $100 per calendar year, and Mastercard Gold Card provides an annual air travel credit of $200 per calendar year. In both cases credits will be applied to any purchase categorized as “Air Travel” by Barclays Card and its merchants, namely airfare but also including baggage fees, flight upgrades, lounge access, and select in-flight purchases (alcohol and food: yes; duty- free: no). Statement credits are automatically applied, within two weeks after the qualifying purchase, maxing out at $100 or $200 per calendar year, depending on the card.

Don’t forget about your cards that offer travel credits per cardmember year

Chase Sapphire Reserve® and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card also come with annual travel credits, but these credits are per cardmember year versus calendar year. You’ll want to check with your credit card exactly when your cardmember year begins and ends (though the posting of your annual fee is typically a good indication!). With Chase Sapphire Reserve, enjoy an annual travel credit of $300 valid toward any purchase categorized as “Travel” Chase and its merchants. This includes the likes of airfare, airline fees, rental cars, hotels, taxis, ride shares, passenger trains, cruise line purchases, and most tour operator purchases (but not purchases on points.com). Statement credits are automatically applied when the card is used for purchases in Chase’s general “Travel” category, maxing out at $300 per calendar year. Credits post as purchases post. No enrollment necessary.

Similarly, U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card provides an annual travel credit of $325, valid toward any purchase categorized as “Travel” by U.S. Bank and its merchant. Unlike the Reserve, however, statement credits are automatically applied the billing cycle after which the charges are made, in one lump sum, and maxing out at $325.

We hope you have a great start to 2020, a new beginning which includes taking full advantage of your 2020 travel credits!

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 125 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, Private Clubs, and Robb Report.