How to Maximize End of Year Travel Credits without Traveling

Posted by Madison on December 7, 2016

Thanks to my Huge $5,325+ Credit Card Application Spree I have a lot of credit cards with end of year offers that need redeeming.

Many of these cards have calendar year travel credits available, but all of our travel for the holiday season is already booked and paid for.

The good news is there’s a way to earn the travel credits and not let the free money expire without traveling! In one case, I even redeemed the travel credits for Amazon gift cards (but this option may have already expired). The Amazon gift cards came in handy to offset the cost of the LEGO Sydney Opera House which will be retired soon! After all the credits, I should have over $1,000 in gift cards to use in the future!

Here’s an overview of the travel credits you need to redeem before the end of the calendar year and how to redeem them without any travel plans.

How to Maximize End of Year Travel Credits

American Express Platinum. The American Express Platinum and American Express Business Platinum cards have a calendar year $200 airline credit for incidentals. This one I redeemed by selecting United as my airline, then using the MileagePlus X app to buy Amazon gift cards! $200 in free Amazon gift cards will come in handy during the holiday season! However, since my credits posted just over two weeks ago on my business Platinum, reddit users are reporting it looks like this option may not be working. I’d wait for a few people to confirm if this works again before going this route. For my personal Platinum I decided to use my travel credit for airline gift cards instead. Flyertalk maintains a thread for every airline to see which gift cards will trigger the airline reimbursement.

Citi Prestige. The Citi Prestige card has a $250 air travel credit. I purchased airline gift certificates to take advantage of the travel credit. Since my husband and I both have this card, we now have $500 in AA gift cards to use sometime in the future. Gift certificates also work for Southwest and United, in addition to American Airlines. To make sure your airline gift card will work, you may want to do a small test charge first.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold. The PRG card has an annual $100 airline fee credit. Usually the same redemption rules apply for the Premier Rewards Gold Card as the Platinum cards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve. There’s a $300 travel credit annually from the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. You can use this travel credit into the future buying Delta and AA gift cards, Marriott gift cards, preloading your toll pass account or public transit cards and funding a Disney Vacation account (which is a great option if you are planning a free trip to Disney World soon). Flyertalk maintains a great list of what is being reimbursed and what isn’t. I’m still trying to get around the 5/24 rule before the end of the year to pick up this card.

Chase Ritz Carlton. The Ritz Carlton card was my backup card during my application spree (since it’s not subject to the 5/24 rule). It has a $300 annual travel credit. You have to call to redeem these credits; however, these just need to be purchased by the end of the year. Even if the charges post next year it’s ok. That means I can wait until the last minute on these and still hold out another few weeks on getting the Sapphire Reserve card before I “settle” for this card!

Earn 3 Years of Travel Credits on One Annual Fee

There’s one more opportunity to really stretch your travel credits! One of the best opportunities to redeem these annual travel credits is to pick up a new card right now. You can triple up on the annual travel credit to maximize your bonuses.

If you apply for these cards in December, you could earn the annual credits in December 2016, 2017, and in January 2018 all with one annual fee. That’s my plan for the new Platinum card I just received and whichever Chase card above I end up with! I’ll let you know how it works in January 2018!

Credit Card Application Links

All of the links for current offers on these cards are listed in our credit card directory.

Don’t Skip Your Annual Benefits

Whatever method you use and whichever cards you have, just make sure you redeem the annual benefits and travel credits for something! Here’s your friendly reminder to get it done this week before you’re completely lost in the holidays!

More Credit Cards Offers

If you're looking for a new credit card, be sure to check out our credit card directory!

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