How to spend your free American Express travel credit

By Chris Chamberlin, January 2 2018
How to spend your free American Express travel credit

Over the Christmas / New Year break, Australian Business Traveller will be revisiting some of our most popular articles of 2017. We’re still around to report on any breaking news during this time, otherwise our regular publishing schedule will resume on Monday January 8, 2018.

To help take the sting off paying annual fees, several credit cards from American Express Australia provide a ‘travel credit’ each year – a dollar figure that you can spend on flights, accommodation and car hire when it suits you.

However, it’s not as simple as receiving a ‘statement credit’ after you book your journey (such as you might get when taking up an AMEX Offer): here’s what you need to know to take advantage of this great benefit.

American Express travel credit: the basics

Travel credits are offered on a yearly basis to holders of the following American Express cards:

Compare that to annual fees of $395 on the Explorer Card and $195 on the Platinum Edge Card and these products literally pay for themselves, while the travel credits also go a long way to offsetting the Platinum Charge Card’s higher $1,200 annual fee.

Speaking of annual fees, your travel credit will normally arrive within a few days of the annual fee being billed to your account or the first monthly statement being issued on cards without a fee.

You can confirm your own travel credit has landed by logging into your American Express Online account and clicking the ‘your points balance’ link from the main screen:

Regardless of which card you have, each travel credit is valid for 12 months – so either use it or you’ll lose it!

Spending your American Express travel credit

Ready to book your next getaway? Log in to American Express Online as above, click the website’s large ‘travel’ icon at the top, then ‘book travel online’:

If you have more than one American Express card attached to a single online account, first click on the card that provides the travel credit you’re spending, and then click ‘book travel online’.

Next, search for your flight, hotel or hire car – much as you would on any travel website such as Expedia – but note that your travel credit can’t be used to book cruises, so stick with the big three.

Once you’ve found something suitable, proceed through to the payment screen: this is where it can get a little complicated, so follow closely.

Your travel credit can only be applied to one transaction and in the full amount, so a $400 travel credit could be used towards a $420 booking, but couldn’t be used to pay for a $300 booking.

You also can’t pool travel credits together from different cards to spend on the one booking, so if you have both the Explorer Card and the Platinum Edge Card, for example, only one travel credit can be spent per booking.

Assuming your booking costs more than the value of your travel credit, the option to use that credit appears here. Just click on the yellow ‘use travel credit’ button…

… and its value will instantly be deducted from the price of your booking:

The balance of your booking can either be paid in AMEX Membership Rewards points in the amount displayed, by charging your credit card in dollars as normal or a combination of both: just drag the slider in the appropriate direction:

To save your points for another day and pay the remaining amount by credit card, yank the slider to the far left, as above.

American Express travel credit: tips and tricks

Flights booked using travel credits will normally earn frequent flyer points and status credits in line with normal fare and frequent flyer rules, although hotel stays booked via AMEX usually won’t accrue any extra hotel points, ‘nights’ or ‘stays’ in hotel loyalty programs.

That’s because most chains only award these on bookings made direct with that chain: true of Hilton HHonors, Starwood Preferred Guest, IHG Rewards Club, Le Club AccorHotels and many others, so if your options are flexible, consider burning your credit on flights rather than nights.

However, American Express allows your travel credit to be spent on anybody, even if they’re not travelling with you. This can be great as a gift, but be sure to enter their name and details at the ‘traveller information’ screen for a stress-free journey, aside your own address in the billing details section.

In any case, your travel credit is non-refundable and won’t be reactivated if a booking you make with that credit is cancelled, so only use it when your plans are firm.

Don’t have a ‘travel credit’ with your current credit card? Click here to learn more about, and apply for, the American Express Explorer Card, the American Express Platinum Edge Card or the American Express Platinum Charge Card.

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Demonoid

Demonoid

29 Apr 2014

Total posts 22

Hi Chris. Can you please confirm the American Express Platinum Reserve Credit Card is still available with the American Express Platinum Charge card, as I can not see any mention of this on the AMEX website.

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2923

We've already confirmed this with AMEX, thus its inclusion in the article. You can request an application form for the Platinum Reserve Card by phone from AMEX once you hold a Platinum Charge Card (it's not available as a new card to anybody else, and it's not a benefit that AMEX goes out of its way to promote, but it's there if you know to ask for it). The earn rates are the same as the Platinum Charge Card (3/2/1/0.5), but with the added bonus of a $400 travel credit with no added annual fee, and the flexibility of a credit card (so you can carry a balance if needed rather than paying off in full as must be done for spend on the Charge Card).

Maheshh

Maheshh

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Apr 2016

Total posts 8

Hi - Are you sure Plat charge card holders get an additional $400 credit? The Amex position has in the past been there is a one $300 credit and that is it !

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2923

The Platinum Reserve card previously offered a free return flight (across Australia or to New Zealand) which was in addition to the $300 Platinum Travel Credit from the Charge Card.

Now the free flight has been replaced with a separate $400 travel credit of its own, but which can't be combined with the Platinum Travel Credit to make a single travel booking as covered above - it has to be used for a separate, second booking.

This is not provided as personal financial advice and note that that your circumstances as an existing customer may differ from the experiences of new customers, particularly if you're paying a reduced annual fee on the Charge Card via a professional association etc., which may have limitations on 'companion' card benefits.

vfm

vfm

26 Jul 2015

Total posts 15

I recently tossed up whether get the PRC in leiu of the supplementary Plat Charge card for my partner. As she often travels dom & int independently with/without the kids we decided the supp Plat Charge was better for her travel pattern, as she would have her own Priority pass card, Hilton & SPG Gold and Hertz 5 star. I suggest one does the sums.

markpk

markpk

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 449

Plus the comprehensive travel insurance...When you start adding up (1) not being screwed by rental car companies for the 'excess reduction' rort, and (2) saving on an annual travel insurance policy...it works out OK

peteshep

peteshep

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 134

I believe you can get Supp Charge cards, and the Reserve card, and supp reserve cards as well. You don't need to give one or the other to supp card holders.

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 248

I have the Platinum Charge Card and I was given Platinum Reserve Credit Card free of charge (back in the day when this was an above the line offer). I get a $300 travel credit on the Platinum Charge PLUS I now get a $400 travel credit on the Platinum Reserve (they have ditched the free VA flight which I always forgot to use anyway). 

This makes the whole premise of holding a Platinum Charge Card absolutely fantastic and makes the whole $1200 p.a. fee problem sort of go away. Loving Amex right now so much!!!

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 248

P.S. I don't pay a single cent $0.00 for my Platinum Reserve Credit, all part of the Platinum Charge deal. Repeat...loving Amex so much right now.

MR1961

MR1961

17 Feb 2016

Total posts 24

I'm with you AT - I've had my Platinum Reserve Credit Card with my Amex Platinum Charge card for seven years now, and like you, I'd forget to use the Virgin flight, at least in two or three of the past seven years. $700 credit off my $1200 annual fee makes me feel a WHOLE lot happier, and I'm loving Amex even more now, too. 

nathanjordan

nathanjordan

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2013

Total posts 130

I can certainly confirm after my partner recently got the Platinum charge that I called, requested the paper application for the Reserve, and got him approved within the week and the card in our hot little hands. The mandatory credit paperwork clearly states that it is free of charge as long as the Platinum charge card remains open. It most definitely has the extra $400 annual travel credit, which has since appeared & been confirmed by me in online services, alongside the existing Platinum charge card $300 credit.

This effectively means you are only paying a $500 annual fee for the card. Deduct from this your individual valuation of the included insurances, Priority Pass/Virgin Australia/Delta/Centurion lounge access, hotel/car hire elite status etc, and overall points-earning ability and flexibility of so many different airlines and hotels to credit your points to, and the argument for possessing the card suddenly then becomes rather COMPELLING.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on How to spend your free American Express travel credit