Amex Travel Credits: How to get the most value

Save money on your next trip when you use your American Express Travel Credit. Use it for flights, hotels, car rentals and more.

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A bunch of American Express credit cards currently boast travel credits that you can use to pay for everything from flights to accommodation to car rentals. And as long as you use them, they usually offset the cost of the annual fee. Depending on the card, the value of these travel credits will range from $200 to $450. Here's how they work and how you can make the most of them.

American Express Credit Card Offer

American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card

Receive $200 Travel Credit each years

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

American Express Credit Card Offer

Enjoy $200 to spend on travel each year through AMEX travel which includes flights, accommodation, car hire and more.

  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent at major supermarkets and petrol stations, 2/$1 spent overseas and 1/$1 on other eligible purchases.
  • Receive complimentary domestic and international travel insurance when you pay for your return trip on your card.
  • $195 p.a. annual fee | 20.74% p.a. purchase rate
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Compare American Express credit cards that offer a travel credit

Name Product Bonus points Rewards program Rewards points per $ spent Purchase rate Annual fee
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
55,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$450
Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
50,000
Membership Rewards
2
20.74% p.a.
$395
Get 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards Points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, a $400 Travel Credit each year.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
120,000
Velocity Frequent Flyer
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$375
Get 120,000 bonus Velocity Points and 120 Velocity Status Credits when you spend $4,500 in the first 3 months. Plus a complimentary domestic flight each year.
American Express Platinum Card
300,000
Membership Rewards Ascent Premium
2.25
N/A
$1,450
Earn 300,000 bonus points when you spend $6,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, a $450 Travel Credit each year.
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How do American Express Travel credits work?

Usually, you'll need to book through American Express Travel to use your travel credit. Depending on your Amex card, you could use the credit 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 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.

What is the difference between a complimentary flight and a travel credit?

If you get an Amex card with a complimentary flight, you can only use the benefit for an eligible flight. For example, the American Express Velocity Platinum Card offers a complimentary return domestic flight between select cities with Virgin Australia and the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card offers a $450 travel credit towards either a domestic or international booking with Qantas.

In comparison, the American Express Platinum Edge offers a $200 travel credit you can use for flights, hotels, car hire and more.

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.

Want to redeem a flight with the Velocity American Express Platinum?

The complimentary flight offer on American Express Velocity Platinum Card is available after your first card spend each year. To redeem it go to http://www.compflight.virginaustralia.com/ and log in with your Velocity Frequent Flyer membership details.

Pros and cons of the American Express Travel credits

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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