Use Your Credit Card Travel Credits Twice In 12 Months

I don’t have a direct referral link for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, information about the product doesn’t come from Chase — I’ve gathered it myself and they haven’t reviewed it.

The new Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card gives you Gold Elite status (which is honored at Marriott hotels, comes complimentary the first year and that you retain each year you spend $10,000 on the card); $100 Global Entry credit, and unlimited use $100 Airline Ticket discounts when buying for 2 or more passengers; 3 complimentary upgrades to The Ritz-Carlton Club® Level each year valid on paid stays of up to seven nights; plus airport lounge access and a premium concierge, the card gives you:

A great signup bonus of 3 complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel after $5,000 spend on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Credit: Ritz-Carlton

But here I want to focus on the $300 airline fee credit.

You can use the credit for airline lounge passes, inflight entertainment and wifi, inflight meals, baggage fees, seat upgrades, etc. Unlike other cards, the travel credit doesn’t process automatically, you call Chase to request credit within 4 billing cycles of incurring the charge.

Here’s the key. The travel credit is $300 per calendar year. So you can use the travel credit right away in 2016, and then again at the beginning of 2016. Get the card now and you could even use $600 in travel credits in less than 6 months. You’ve gotten benefits larger than the annual fee before even getting to the complimentary Ritz-Carlton nights.

Note that while the airline fee credit is based on a single calendar year, other benefits are not — for instance the $100 discount on domestic roundtrip itineraries for 2 or more passengers is unlimited and the $100 global entry fee credit is once every five years (already have Global Entry, pay for someone else’s application fee with your card).

The same principle applies to other cards with airline fee credits.

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card gives you a $300 travel credit which is rebated automatically with travel spend like airline tickets, hotels, and Uber.
  • Citi Prestige Card has a $250 airline credit. It’s based on calendar year, and works even when you buy a ticket, no messing around with gift cards etc. Get the card now, use the airline credit right away and again in January, that’s $500 in airline credits during the first $450 annual fee year. And that’s before you get to the rest of the card’s benefits.
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express has an annual $100 airline fee credit. It’s based on calendar year as well. The card’s annual fee is $0 the first year then $195. That means if you got the card now, you could use the $100 before the end of 2016 and again at the beginning of 2017 all with an annual fee of $0. And that’s on top of the card’s triple points for airfare purchased directly from airlines and double points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. So you can make money during that first 12 month period.
  • Platinum Card by American Express has an annual $200 airline fee credit. It’s also based on calendar year, meaning during your first $450 annual fee year you can most often use it twice. So in addition to American Express lounges, Delta lounges when flying Delta, and Starwood and Hilton Gold status you get these credits which make that first year go down super easy.

For American Express Platinum and Premier Rewards Gold cards I’ve found that — though it isn’t supposed to work this way — in practice I have been able to have American Airlines gift cards reimbursed. For American it has to be electronic gift cards and not more than $100 (and I’ve purchased $50 gift cards using the Premier Rewards Gold card). Details on what seems to work and what doesn’t varies by airline. For instance, reports have been that $50 Delta e-gift cards have worked, though not larger amounts. And United gift registry purchases have worked, while gift cards haven’t.

As I say this isn’t how the fee reimbursement is ‘supposed to’ work, and there’s no guarantee that it will always work this way.