Complimentary flights with credit cards – is there a catch?

Many credit cards come with value-adding features. These features vary considerably, but one of the more notable benefits to come with some cards is free flights. One particular card, the Amex Platinum Edge credit card, comes with a complimentary return flight on Virgin Australia every year, among other features. And with an annual fee under $200, one member wonders if it is in fact too good to be true.

I noticed that the American Express Platinum Edge card gives one free complimentary flight a year on Virgin flights in Australia in the Saver fare range, subject to availability.

Have other card holders found the Amex complimentary flight feature useful, or has it been difficult to get flights near when you wanted them? And if you think it a good feature, should I pay $200 for my wife to get her own card so that hopefully we could get complimentary flights on the same flight – or is that an unrealistic expectation?

When it comes to getting the free flight, the usual caveat of “subject to availability” applies. This means it may not be possible to find multiple, or even any seats on a particular flight. However in our members’ collective experience, claiming the free flight has not been an onerous exercise and availability was not too difficult to come by.

I’ve never had an issue getting the complimentary flight and have booked it as close as to 2 weeks prior to travel. I definitely think the annual fee pays itself off with that benefit alone.

Some members have even been able to save up their annual free flights to get multiple flights the following year.

I’ve never had any issue, last year got 4 of us from Sydney to Adelaide (2 years flights for 2) Friday pm on the weekend Womadelaide was on about two months out, no issues getting the flight time I wanted.

The main catch, it would seem, is that not all destinations in Australia are eligible. So for somebody based in Melbourne, for example, it would not be possible to use the card to fly to Perth, or far north Queensland. However one could as far north as Brisbane for free. With such a round-trip usually costing well over $195 (the card’s annual fee), it’s almost a no-brainer.

One member points out that on another card offering complimentary flights, it is a requirement to have spent money with the airline, using your credit card, before you can claim the free flight. Of course, the conditions will vary from card to card, so it is worthwhile taking a little bit of time to research properly before applying.

The Amex Platinum Edge card is not the only credit card out there that comes with complimentary flights. Many cards come with similar tangible benefits so it pays to shop around and see what’s out there. Join the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]