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All of the major credit cards that give you a travel or airline fee credit award those credits per calendar year.
So if you apply now it’s still possible to get the card in time to use the credit in 2016… and again in 2017.
In this way, on top of each card’s signup bonus and benefits, you can get the credit twice during your first year and in some cases even make a profit.
Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card signup bonus offer is 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.
You can stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel or Half Moon Bay in California. You can stay at the The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui, the Ritz-Carlton Aruba, or the Hotel Arts in Barcelona. Use it in Sanya, Macau, or the other China properties. Use it in Bali.
Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Credit: Ritz-Carlton
The card comes with automatic Gold Elite status for your first account year. You can keep Gold status in subsequent years with $10,000 in purchases on the card each year. And $75,000 in purchases in an account year on the Ritz-Carlton credit card earns top tier Platinum status. Gold gets you complimentary room upgrades and late checkout. And Ritz-Carlton status means Marriott status recognition too
Perhaps the biggest benefit that’s bundled with the card as a Visa Infinite is the $100 airfare credit when buying tickets through their portal (which limited you to United, Delta, and American) for two to five passengers. You can use this benefit an unlimited number of times.
But for a card with a $450 annual fee, something that makes it go down much easier is that it comes with a $300 airline fee credit
You’re supposed to use the credit for things like airline lounge day passes, lounge membership, seat fees and upgrades, checked baggage fees, in-flight internet or entertainment fees, or onboard food and beverage.
Whether or not you can use the credit for other things in practice (besides what is actually promised) is very much ‘your mileage may vary’. You’re calling to request the credit, and in practice many people have reported success with reimbursement of airline gift cards with airlines other than United that are less than $100.
The $450 annual fee Platinum Card by American Express and The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card come with a $200 annual airline fee credit, which in my experience (it’s not supposed to work this way, and not guaranteed to) has allowed me to buy (2) $100 American Airlines electronic gift cards.
Select your airline of choice from participating carriers and then claim your fee credit. You can use the fee credit in 2016 and again at the beginning of 2017 — in other words $400 during your first $450 annual fee year.
There’s a limited-time offer for the Enhanced Business Platinum Card® that lets you earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points: 50,000 points after $5,000 spend within 3 months and an additional 50,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 within those first 3 months. This is a limited-time offer through January 25, 2017.
The card comes with Centurion lounge access, Priority Pass, and access to Delta lounges when flying the airline same day. It gives you Hilton Gold and Starwood Gold (which matches to Marriott Gold) as well.
Centurion Lounge, Houston
Another $450 annual fee card, the Citi Prestige has an easy airline fee credit of $250. All you have to do is buy an airline ticket or make an airline purchase with the card and the credit should post automatically.
The card comes with a Priority Pass Select card and earns triple points on air and hotel spend and double points on dining and entertainment. Points transfer to a variety of airlines like Etihad and Singapore. The card’s 4th night free on hotel stays benefit provides strong value as well.
Etihad A380 First Class Apartments
American Express Premier Rewards Gold
Here’s one you can really make money on right away. The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express has a $0 annual fee the first year (then $195). And it has a $100 airline fee credit.
As with the Platinum cards, in my experience (it’s not supposed to work this way, and not guaranteed to) I’ve been able to buy American Airlines electronic gift cards and trigger the credit.
Select your airline of choice from participating carriers and then claim your fee credit. You can use the fee credit in 2016 and again at the beginning of 2017 — in other words $200 during your first $0 annual fee year.
It’s a fast-earning Membership Rewards card as well, with triple points on airfare purchased directly from airlines and double points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. And those points transfer to airlines like Singapore, Delta, and Cathay Pacific.
Cathay Pacific First Class
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has a $450 annual fee also made easier to swallow by a $300 travel credit. This is perhaps the broadest credit of all — since it works automatically for any spending that codes as travel. That means airline tickets, hotel stays, even Uber rides.
This is the card which is offering a 100,000 point signup bonus after $4000 spend within 3 months, and earns triple points on travel and dining. It comes with a Priority Pass Select card for airport lounge access as well.
Points transfer to United, Singapore, Korean Air, British Airways, Air France KLM and more and hotel programs such as Hyatt.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives