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As credit card issuers have moved more and more toward premium and ultra-premium cards, we have more and more annual credits to keep track of using.

To make it more confusing, some cards have credits you get on an annual basis and others that you get every “cardmember year.” For the perks you get every cardmember year, you’ll need to pay attention to your annual fee billing date to make sure you’ve used your credits. But when the credit is “annual” (i.e. per calendar year), you have a unique opportunity to get the credits in two consecutive years, even before the second annual fee rolls around. ¬†That means this is also an excellent time to apply for the cards with “annual” credits.

If you are in a cash crunch, you should avoid travel rewards credit cards until you are caught up. Here are our favorite credit cards for Intro 0% APR offers and for balance transfer offers

I’m not going to list out every card that has a “once every five years” credit for PreCheck/Global Entry since they are so common and not annual. All other “use or lose” perks should be here.

Credit cards with “annual” credits that you must use or lose by the time your December statement closes:

The Platinum Card from American Express ($550 annual fee)

$200 annual airline credit

Airline must be chosen once per year, though they will usually let you change it once. So if you used it on one airline pre-pandemic and want to use it for another now, call or chat with them and ask to change the airline.

These credits are intended to be used for incidental airline fees. This means it won’t work for airfare itself or upgrades, but it will work for lounge access, seat selection fees, baggage fees, award redeposit fees and the like. You used to be able to use these for airline gift cards, though for the most part that no longer works. We discuss some creative options in the MilesTalk Facebook group. You can also look on Flyertalk, where you just need to find the thread for your preferred airline.

Uber and Saks credits

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Also, don’t forget to activate use your monthly Uber credits and your $50 Saks credit by the end of the year. The Amex cards have a ton of great benefits, but they require activation and use in the defined period or you lose them.

American Express Gold Card ($250 annual fee)

$100 annual airline credit

Airline must be chosen once per year, though they will usually let you change it once. So if you used it on one airline pre-pandemic and want to use it for another now, call or chat with them and ask to change the airline.

These credits are intended to be used for incidental airline fees. This means it won’t work for airfare itself or upgrades, but it will work for lounge access, seat selection fees, baggage fees, award redeposit fees and the like. You used to be able to use these for airline gift cards, though for the most part that no longer works. We discuss some creative options in the MilesTalk Facebook group. You can also look on Flyertalk, where you just need to find the thread for your preferred airline.

Monthly dining credits

Also, don’t forget to activate your $10 monthly dining credit, most usefully used on Seamless/GrubHub or Shake Shack. It’s one $10 credit each calendar month.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express ($595 annual fee)

$200 annual airline credit

Airline must be chosen once per year, though they will usually let you change it once. So if you used it on one airline pre-pandemic and want to use it for another now, call or chat with them and ask to change the airline.

These credits are intended to be used for incidental airline fees. This means it won’t work for airfare itself or upgrades, but it will work for lounge access, seat selection fees, baggage fees, award redeposit fees and the like. You used to be able to use these for airline gift cards, though for the most part that no longer works. We discuss some creative options in the MilesTalk Facebook group. You can also look on Flyertalk, where you just need to find the thread for your preferred airline.

Twice annual Dell credit

Your twice-annual $100 Dell credit expires June 30 and Dec 31 annually. In 2020, this Dell credit was doubled to $200 each half of the year, so make sure you use the $100 Dell credit before the end of 2020! Don’t forget that you likely also have a 10% back Amex Offer, meaning you could spend up to $220 and get it all back. And you can even stack with a shopping portal like Rakuten for even more cash back. (Yes, make a profit off buying $200 worth of Dell products).

American Express Green Card

Both the $100 Lounge Buddy credit and the $100 CLEAR (airport security) credits are calendar year. CLEAR also has a 6 month trial offer you can sign up for by Dec 31st.

Hilton Honors Aspire ($450 annual fee)

$250 annual airline credit

Airline must be chosen once per year. Used for incidental airline fees. This means it won’t work for airfare or upgrades, but it will work for lounge access, baggage fees, seat selection fees, award redeposit fees, and the like.

Note that the resort credit is “cardmember year” so see below for that.

Chase Sapphire Reserve ($550 annual fee)

$60 DoorDash annual credit must be used by December 31st.

Also, if you opened your Sapphire Reserve card before May 21, 2017, your annual $300 travel credit is by calendar year but, somewhat oddly, each new year will start after your December statement closes, so it will start crediting sometime this December for next year.

Asiana Visa (Link)

  • 2 Asiana Airline lounge invitations
  • 10,000 Bonus Miles Certificate awarded annually (good towards an award or upgrade, not actual miles deposited to your account)
  • Automatic $100 annual rebate on Asiana Airlines ticket purchases

Lufthansa Miles & More Credit Card (Link)

  • Annual companion ticket (Starting with first renewal anniversary)
  • Receive two complimentary Lufthansa Business Lounge Vouchers after each account anniversary

Ritz Carlton Credit Card

This card is no longer available to new applicants, but if you have one already, note that your $300 annual travel credit must be used by Dec 31st. Here are some tips from Doctor of Credit on what triggers the credit.

Citi PremierCiti Premier Bonus Offer Get 60,000 Citi ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months. Great for transferring to Turkish to book United flights within North America | How to apply for this offer.

Citi Prestige ($495 annual fee)

$250 annual travel credit must be used each calendar year. Valid on any travel purchases.

  • Travel Purchases are defined as purchases made within the travel category, including purchases from airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies/travel aggregators/tour operators, commuter transportation, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, cruise lines, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, and bus lines.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card

Get up to $100 in Airline Incidental Statement Credits annually for qualifying purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services, and airline lounge fees – automatically applied to your card statement. (Calendar year)

2020 COVID-19 related credits to use

In 2020, many cards have additional credit opportunities. These have been monthly, but it’s still worth remembering to use before the end of December!

Amex Platinum: (In addition to what is listed above), make sure you use your $20 wireless credit and $20 streaming credit.

Amex Business Platinum: $20 monthly shipping credit and $20 wireless service credit

Amex Green Card: $10 monthly wireless service credit

(Note: if you have multiple credit offers for wireless, you can make partial payments with each.)

Citi Prestige: I think everyone was targeted for the 5X on online purchases with the Citi Prestige on up to $1,875 in spend, so don’t miss out on that.

World of Hyatt Credit CardGet up to 50,000 World of Hyatt Bonus Points: 25,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening, plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after spending $6,000 in spend within the first 6 months of account opening.| How to apply for this offer.

Credit cards with “cardmember year” credits that you must use or lose by your cardmember anniversary date:

Chase Sapphire Reserve ($550 annual fee)

$300 annual travel credit must be used each cardmember year.

Valid on all purchases that code as “travel” including airline tickets, hotels, cruises, Ubers, taxis, and parking meters.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant ($450 annual fee)

$300 in statement credits each cardmember year for eligible purchases at Marriott hotels.

Eligible purchases includes room rates or anything charged to your room.

Don’t forget the card also comes with an annual free night worth up to 50,000 Marriott points.

Hilton Honors Aspire ($450 annual fee)

$250 annual resort credit

Get back up to $250 for purchases at participating Hilton resorts. This is good on the room rate itself.  See the participating resorts.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card ($149 annual fee)

sw priorty$75 Southwest travel credit each year

4 upgraded boardings each year (when available).

 

Alaska Airlines MileagePlan ($75 annual fee)

Companion Fare: Is issued 6-8 weeks after your annual fee is paid and is good for one year.

Korean Air SKYPASS Select Visa Signature Card (Link)

Automatic statement credit(s) totaling up to $200 will be applied to your Account when a SKYPASS Select Visa card is used for purchases made directly from airlines, hotels, or car rental companies. Credit(s) apply to eligible Net Purchases that post to your Account on a Cardmember-year basis (based on Account opening date).

Also: $100 Off coupon for Korean Air ticket purchase each year, 2 Korean Air In-flight Duty Free $25 coupons each year, and 2 KAL Lounge coupons each year.

Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire Preferred Earn 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points (worth up to $750 or more) when you spend $4,000 in 3 months. How to apply for this offer.

Summary

If I missed anything, please let me know in the comments. Please note I purposely omitted things like the annual free nights awarded with certain cards simply because they are not “use or lose” on the same defined schedule, although they will tend to expire a year from when you receive them.

Thoughts?

Let me know below in the comments, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

And if this post helped you, please consider sharing it!

You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards. 

New to all of this? My ‚Äúintroduction to miles and points‚ÄĚ book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

 

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I got "in the game" in 2003 and since then I've collected literally millions and millions of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I've flown around the world in first class seats that would cost $29,000 using frequent flyer miles and a few bucks in tax. And I've stayed in some of the finest hotels - all for free! A few years ago I realized many of my friends actually thought I was paying for these!! So I started sharing my tips. It's long been a passion, but when I hosted a session on Miles and Points at this year's South by Southwest festival, my love of the game intensified and this blog was born.

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