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Lots of rewards credit cards have built-in credits that help justify the annual fee. Those credits may be big (hello there, $300 annual travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®), or they could be small (we're looking at you, $10-per-month American Express® Gold Card dining credit), but in all cases, you're better off using the credits you have available to you than letting them go to waste.
In a normal world, it's easy enough to put most of these built-in credits to use. For example, you can use the Sapphire Reserve's travel credit on virtually any travel charge on the card (even parking or subway tickets) and you can even pick up a slice of basically free-to-you cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory using the Amex Gold credit while out running errands.
In this currently abnormal world, it's not nearly as easy to make use of many of these built-in credits as before. However, all hope is not lost. In fact, not only are there ways to maximize many existing credits from home, but there have been some newly introduced credits that sweeten the deal for some cardholders as we wait for the world to move forward again.
Here are 13 ways to use a variety of credit card annual credits safely from your home.
The Platinum Card® from American Express Uber credits
This is an easy one. The $15 monthly ($35 in December) Uber credits for the Amex Platinum can also be used for Uber Eats. So, assuming you are hunkered down somewhere that has Uber Eats, you can still use the credits to have some take-out dropped off at your doorstep. If Uber Eats is not a viable option for you, consider chatting with Amex to ask for a statement credit for that $15 monthly credit. That's not a guarantee, but it is worth an ask. The card comes with a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Amex Platinum Saks credit
Twice per year (January-June and again July-December), those with an Amex Platinum card get an up to $50 credit to spend at Saks Fifth Avenue. Not only is this up to $100-per-year credit easy to use from home with online orders made on the Saks Fifth Avenue website, but Saks has been running some pretty great sales in the last few weeks. Here are some of our top travel picks from a recent site-wide sale. Make sure you register for the perk under the benefits section within your account before making a purchase.
Amex Platinum cell phone credits
A new temporary bonus on both The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, available from May to December 2020, can get you $20 per month in credit on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers using either of those two cards.
Amex Platinum streaming credits
Much like with the new, temporary cell phone credits, personal Amex Platinum cardholders also are eligible for $20 a month in streaming credits from May – December 2020. This works on services such as Netflix, Disney+, Sling TV and more.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Dell credit
Similar to the consumer Amex Platinum Saks credit, the small-business version of that card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, comes with a twice-per-year credit to Dell. Normally this one comes to a total of up to $200 in credits to Dell for U.S. purchases, given in two $100 increments. However, for 2020, this amount has been doubled to include an additional $100 in credits from May 1 – June 31 and then $200 in total credits from July 1 – Dec. 31, 2020. This means a cumulative up to $400 in Dell credits available from this card in 2020.
Naturally, you can order computer gadgets from Dell.com, but another particularly great option, while we are all home at the moment, may be new Nintendo Switch games available from Dell.com for around $60 each. (Be sure you register for the promotion first.) The card comes with a $595 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Amex Business Platinum shipping credit
If you have a package you need to ship, the Amex Business Platinum might be the card for you. As a temporary benefit, the card added an up to $20 monthly credit on U.S. purchases shipping purchases from May to December 2020.
Chase Sapphire Reserve DoorDash credit
In early 2020, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® introduced a new perk — up to $60 in DoorDash credit for both 2020 and 2021. You can use your 2020 $60 DoorDash credit in increments, or all at once, to get food left on your doorstep. On top of that, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Sapphire Reserve card come with a complimentary year of DashPass (normally $9.99 per month). This will get you lower service fees and free delivery on orders of $12 or more.
Amex Gold dining credits
The American Express® Gold Card comes with up to $120 in annual dining credits, which sounds great but can be a little tricky to maximize. The $120 is dolled out in $10 increments each month and is valid at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations. Delivery services Grubhub and Seamless are available in most major U.S. cities, so those may be easier ways to put this to use — in addition to orders for goods placed with Boxed.com. The card has a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Much like the Saks credit with the Amex Platinum, you have to enroll through the Amex website to get this benefit activated.
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Hilton Aspire dining credit
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card added the ability to use some or all of the card's annual up-to-$250 Hilton resort credit instead at U.S. restaurants from June to Aug. 2020 (including on takeout and delivery). Call up your favorite pizza joint and order delivery to your heart's content — or at least until the $250 is all gone. The card has a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card dining credit
Much like the Hilton Aspire, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card is allowing cardholders to use some or all of the card's annual up to $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit at U.S. restaurants (including for takeout or delivery) from June to Aug. 2020.
American Express® Green Card wireless credits
The final temporary Amex benefit on this list is on the brand-new American Express® Green Card. From May to December 2020, this card has added up to $10 per month in statement credits for wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers.
Global Entry credits
Global Entry applications and renewals were already a mess before COVID-19 became a household name. Those in New York state couldn't apply for new or renewed memberships, and for everyone else who didn't get super lucky, it was taking six to 12 months to get through the process. So, while most of us aren't traveling right now and the normal Global Entry interview locations are closed for now, it actually isn't the worst idea to start your application or renewal now, knowing you likely wouldn't be approved for an interview for months and months anyway. I applied for Global Entry renewal in October 2019 and still have not been approved for an interview for renewal.
My family saved $400 in application fees by leaning on the rewards cards we have that cover the $100 application fees.
Here are some credit cards that include TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credits (up to $100):
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The information for the Capital One Venture card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit
This is where things start to get harder if you aren't yet booking future travel, though it's still not impossible. As mentioned, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $300 annual travel credit. The credit runs on either a calendar year or a cardmember year, depending on when you first got your card. (Those who got it by May 21, 2017, have their credit run on a calendar year.) If you still have a while to use your credit, I wouldn't stress yet about using it up. But, if you are coming up to a deadline based on your cardmember year, it's a good idea to review how to easily use up the travel credit.
Eligible travel purchases include:
- Car rental agencies
- Cruise lines
- Travel agency services
- Taxis and car services
- Toll bridges and highways
- Parking lots and garages
If you are jumping on some of those $35+ flight deals for travel later in 2020, that's an easy way to use some of the credit. If you still make payments toward parking lots or garages, that could work, as could using the credit to load up your toll tag, even if you aren't driving a lot at the moment. Most airlines and even hotels have flexible change policies at the moment for future travel, so you could book future travel leveraging those policies using your credit into 2021 as far out as the booking calendars allow. If you have any change fees to pay from canceled travel, the travel credit could also help absorb some of that pain.
Also, know that Sapphire Reserve cardholders with an account that renews from April 1 to July 1 will see a $100 annual fee credit at renewal.
Airline fee credits
I saved the toughest for last. There are several cards, largely issued by American Express, that provide annual airline fee credits that range from $100 to $250 per year.
- Amex Platinum (up to $200)
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (up to $250)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (up to $200)
- American Express® Gold Card (up to $100)
The bad news is these credits are harder to truly maximize from home when you're not traveling. The good news is the credits operate on a calendar year, so you probably don't need to rush to use them up right this second (unless you are canceling or downgrading a card).
On paper, here's what is covered by the Amex airline fee credits:
- Checked baggage fees
- Overweight/oversize baggage fees
- Change fees
- Phone reservation fees
- Pet flight fees
- Airport lounge day passes and annual memberships
- Seat assignment fees
- Inflight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, etc.)
- Inflight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet)
If you need to pay to change an airline reservation or redeposit miles, that would work as a way to use the Amex airline fee credit while you aren't traveling. There also are select airline lounge one-time passes you could purchase from home to use on future travel, usually up to one year after purchase. For example, in the United app, you can purchase a one-time United Club pass for $59.
The last few months have been an exceptionally tough time for businesses, families and beyond. There are much larger concerns out there than utilizing credit card credits. However, if you have one of these cards in your wallet, it still makes sense to ensure you're getting as much value from that card as possible while staying safe.
Featured image by Johner Images/Getty Images.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold, click here.
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