American Express Travel Review
American Express Travel is the travel-agent arm of AMEX. The service includes an online portal for booking travel as well as access to their travel and lifestyle consultants. Most people who use AMEX travel have an American Express credit card that allows them to earn points that can be redeemed through this travel service.
The big question on everyone’s mind is why in the world you would use AMEX travel in this day and age when Expedia has the largest collection of travel products, and reviews of every travel destination can be found online.
Check out the review of AMEX travel below to help you figure out when you should use this service!
AMEX Travel Review
Back in the day (pre-2000), AMEX travel was actually pretty good. Their agents were knowledgeable, and their pricing was reasonable. Fast forward to today, and much of what made AMEX travel good isn’t there anymore.
The staff aren't particularly knowledgeable.
When it comes to knowledge regarding your destination, you’re much better off doing a quick google search, and reading reviews on TripAdvisor. We found the AMEX travel staff to be somewhat knowledgeable on popular North American destinations, poorly educated on European locations, and clueless when it came to Asian locations.
The pricing isn't competitive.
When it comes to pricing, sites like Expedia will almost always have lower prices. If you call your AMEX travel agent, they might actually book your trip through Expedia and charge you the fee for using their phone booking service.
The AMEX Travel Platinum counselors were useless.
One thing that we weren’t sure about was whether the AMEX Travel Platinum Counselors would level the playing field and bring value to the travel experience. This is a service that is exclusively available to AMEX Platinum and Centurion (black card) holders. Since we are AMEX Platinum card holders, we put this to the test!
The AMEX Platinum Travel Counselor Experience
The Platinum Travel Counselors are sold as people who can provide tailored recommendations and help you take advantage of unique travel benefits and special offers.
We got in touch with the counselors and asked them to plan a 10-day trip to Hawaii. We provided information such as the types of activities we’re looking for, and some potential islands we want to visit.
The response from the travel counselor was terrible. For the tailored recommendations, all we got was an e-mail with five bullet points on potential activities (which looked suspiciously like a list from a popular online travel-review site).
For our itinerary, we got a very overpriced Fine Hotel and Resorts accommodation and a multiple-transfer flight even though there are direct flights from our location to Hawaii. We checked the AMEX travel online portal, and that flight was the only one showing, so we’re guessing they were just trying to push their inventory on us.
We think one reason for the lack of service is the fact that the travel planning isn't done through AMEX's concierge service.
Other concierge services such as the Visa Infinite Concierge will handle travel planning themselves, and they do a much better job. We sent the same request to Visa Infinite and got an amazing seven-page PDF that planned out each day’s activities. They were awesome.
Should You Use AMEX Travel?
No. We recommend you stay away from AMEX for any travel planning! The only benefit we found is that you can redeem your hard-earned AMEX rewards points against travel purchases. This can take the form of a direct point redemption for travel dollars or redeeming the points for their fixed points travel program (eg. 25,000 points for a flight). If you have a credit card that comes with an AMEX travel credit, then it will have to be redeemed through AMEX travel.
Otherwise, you will be able to find better prices on Expedia, better travel information from TripAdvisor or travel blogs, and have a broader selection of travel options by not using AMEX travel.
If you need further convincing, just check out their rating on Consumer Affairs.
There are tons of stories where AMEX travel accidentally cancelled someone's reservation, misled the customer regarding travel insurance policies, and provided customers with long wait times when urgent issues need to be resolved.
This is a little sad to see since I'm a big fan of American Express and their customer service. However, it seems like the travel portion of their company isn't getting the funding or development it needs to be at the same level as the credit card department.
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