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How to use your American Express Travel credit

Whether you’re booking a flight or hotel stay, here’s how you can make the most of your Amex Travel credits.

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A bunch of American Express credit cards currently boast American Express Travel credits which cardholders can use to pay for everything from flights and accommodation to car rentals. Depending on the card, the value of these travel credits can usually range between $200 and $450. As well as saving on travel costs, you can use these travel credits to help justify the annual fee you’ll pay to use your American Express.

You can use this guide to find out how Amex Travel credits work, the steps to take to redeem them and how you can make the most out of yours.

American Express Credit Card Offer

American Express Explorer Credit Card

Receive 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards Points

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

American Express Credit Card Offer

Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points and get a $400 Travel Credit every year. Plus, 2 lounge passes per year.

  • 50,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months
  • Up to 2 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases, uncapped
  • $400 Travel Credit every year
  • 2 complimentary airport lounge passes per year
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Compare American Express credit cards that offer a travel credit

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Bonus points Rewards program Rewards points per $ spent Purchase rate Annual fee
American Express Explorer Credit Card
50,000
Membership Rewards
2
20.74% p.a.
$395
Get 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, a yearly $400 Travel Credit and 2 entries per year to the Amex Lounge.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
55,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$450
Get 55,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $450 Qantas Travel Credit and 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
N/A
Membership Rewards Ascent
1
20.74% p.a.
$195
Receive a yearly $200 Travel Credit and complimentary domestic and international travel insurance, plus up to 3 Membership Rewards Points / $1.
American Express Platinum Card
80,000
Membership Rewards Ascent Premium
2.25
N/A
$1,450
Receive 80,000 bonus Membership Rewards Points, a $450 annual Platinum Travel Credit, dedicated personal service and luxury travel perks.
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How do American Express Travel credits work?

You can use American Express Travel to book your next trip with Membership Rewards points and travel credits. You can use the site to book flights, hotel stays, car rentals and experiences (such as tours). You can also book cruises through American Express Travel, although you can’t redeem your travel credits to cover cruise costs.

You may find that what you can pay for with your travel credits varies, depending on your card. For example you can use the travel credits from the Explorer and Platinum Edge cards to pay for experiences, but not the Platinum Charge. If you’re using your travel credits to book a car rental, note that it has to be for transport to and from the same airport.

You can only use your American Express Travel credit in a single booking, so you can’t spread it out over multiple bookings. Also, you can also only use your American Express Travel credit to cover costs that exceed the value of your credits. So, you could use your $400 in credits to pay for a $450 car rental, but not a $300 car rental. If you have more than one Amex Travel credit, you can’t pool the value of multiple credits to cover the cost.

Do travel credits expire?

Your travel credits last for 12 months, so keep this in mind when you’re planning to use them. Once your travel credits expire, they can’t be redeemed.

How to use your American Express Travel credit

middle aged couple's hands and tablet

If your card offers an American Express Travel credit, you usually need to pay the annual fee and make the minimum payment by the due date before you can access those credits. Once you’ve done this, you can redeem them by taking the following steps:

  1. Log in to the American Express Travel website and select the card with the travel credits you’re going to use. You’ll see the travel credits in the right-hand corner of your Amex Travel homepage once you’ve logged in.
  2. Select what you want to book (such as a flight, hotel or car hire) and filter your decisions by destination, travel dates, airline carrier and more.
  3. When you’ve picked an option that costs more than the value of your travel credits, you’ll see the total amount in dollars (which you can cover in your travel credits) or Membership Rewards points.
  4. You can then click on the yellow “Use travel credit” button to redeem your credits. The value of the credits will be deducted from your total price and then you can pay for the remainder using your American Express card or Membership Rewards points.
  5. Once you’ve done this, review and confirm your booking. You can’t get refunds on redeemed travel credits, so make sure to review your booking carefully before you confirm your payment.

This video from American Express also takes you through the steps you’ll need to follow to use your travel credits.

Pros and cons of the American Express Travel credits

Now that you know how the Amex Travel credits work, let’s weigh up some of the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Outweigh annual fee. Some of the American Express credit cards offer travel credits that can offset the cost of the annual fee, which can help you justify getting the card.
  • Cut travel costs. It’s an easy way to save between $200 and $400 on travel costs.
  • Easy to use. The American Express Travel website is simple to use and it’s easy to access your travel credits once you’ve logged in.

Cons

  • No points earned. In contrast to paying with your Amex card, you can’t earn points on travel costs paid for with your travel credits.
  • Less competitive prices. You may find that the cost of hotels, car rentals and flights booked through American Express Travel have less competitive prices than if you were to book directly, so make sure to compare a few options before you confirm your booking.
  • Expiration. You can use your travel credits within exactly 12 months from the issue date. After that they will expire and can’t be redeemed.

American Express Travel credits can be a great way to get extra value from your credit card. However, considering the restrictions and the terms and conditions, it’s good to understand how they work and whether you’re actually going to use the credits before you apply for the card.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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