How to Use Statement Credits Without Overspending

Don't spend extra money to use the dining and travel credits that come with your card. Here's how.
Elina GellerNov 3, 2021

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In addition to solid welcome offers and plenty of travel perks, premium travel cards offer various statement credits to help offset the annual fee. It can be easy to overspend in pursuit of these credits, but there are ways to use them without spending money unnecessarily.

Here’s what you can do to optimize your statement credits and ensure that you’re spending wisely to extract the most from your credit card.

Dining credits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card and many American Express travel cards offer dining credits. Depending on which AmEx card you have, the credits range from $5 to $20 per month:

Terms apply.

Many of these credits also work on food delivery apps. But when you order through one of these platforms, you’re not always just paying for the food — you’re likely paying various fees, too. Depending on the app, you may need to add service fees, delivery fees, taxes and a tip, all of which can significantly increase the cost of the food order.

For example, on UberEats, a $19 food order from Kraken Crudo totaled $27.67 after adding on $8.67 in fees. That’s a significant increase, especially if you’re only ordering from these apps because you have the credits.

Money-saving tips for dining credits

One way to save is to order your food and pick it up so you can avoid many (and sometimes all) of those fees. This can both prevent you from overspending and allow you to get more food for your credit since you’re not paying for fees.

Another money-saving tip: Consider using your credits at non-restaurants. For example, some coffee shops, juice bars and frozen yogurt shops often show up on the food delivery platforms. This prevents you from overordering and spending drastically more than the credit covers.

Travel credits

The following cards offer travel credits:

Travel credits on premium travel rewards credit cards seem like a no-brainer. However, the credits are straightforward only on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card cards. On these cards, when you make a purchase that codes as a travel category, you’ll get a statement credit.

However, on AmEx cards and the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, the credits need to be for specific purchases of incidentals related to flights and you must select your designated airline at the beginning of each year.

Money saving tips for travel credits

Don’t let these credits go to waste, but don't overspend just for the sake of using the credit, either.

For United Airlines, consider loading your United Travel Bank balance, which can be used to purchase United and United Express flights.

In our experience, using an AmEx card to load your United Travel Bank coded as an incidental and triggered a credit. Of course, your mileage may vary, and this can change at any time. Even so, this is an easy option for those who do not spend enough money on airline incidentals with one specific airline.

For other airlines, you have a few options:

  • Bag fees: If you don’t already get free checked bags via elite status or another credit card, charge your baggage fees to your AmEx card to trigger the reimbursement. Know your credit amount and how many bags it will take to use it all. You have to pay for bags on the way back, too.

  • Onboard food and beverages: If you fly with some frequency, you can burn through your airline credits by ordering food and drinks on your designated airline’s flights.

  • Other fees: Generally, you’ll get the credit for other fees such as overweight baggage, pet fees or seat selection but not upgrades.

  • Lounge day passes: If your airline has lounges that sell day passes, you can usually charge those to trigger the credit as well. This can be a nice way to splurge on a trip and spend some time relaxing during a layover.

AmEx makes it clear that airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards and award tickets will not count as incidental fees for reimbursement.

Miscellaneous statement credits

The following AmEx cards offer a couple of additional annual statement credits:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express - $50 Saks Fifth Avenue credit (twice per year). Enrollment is required.

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - $200 annual Dell statement credits.

Terms apply.

Saks Fifth Avenue is a high-end department store, and it may seem like only spending $50 there might be difficult. You may feel the same about Dell, where a $200 Dell credit may seem hard to use without spending additional money on top of that, especially given the cost of many laptops and computers.

Money-saving tips for miscellaneous credits

There are ways to use these credits that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

For example, you can purchase many items under $50 at Saks Fifth Avenue in the sale section of the website. Sort the page from low to high price; you will likely find something useful that’s under budget.

The Dell website offers many items other than computers. You can find cameras, laptop bags, printers, ink, keyboards, mice and even Bose headphones. With a little creativity, you can use the credit without exceeding the $200 limit.

Nerdy tip: Keep in mind that for these purchases, you can use shopping portals to stack and earn miles or points on your online shopping.

Maximize the value of your credit card statement credits without breaking the bank

Travel credit cards offer many different credits that help to significantly offset the annual fee. There are plenty of ways to use these statement credit offers in a way that helps you spend only the amount of the credit. Get creative so that you don’t end up spending money you don’t need to.

All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

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