Amex Platinum Travel Perks

I’ve been following the saga of American Express Platinum Cards over at Ask Mr. Credit Card because I sprung for one last fall.

I just attempted to book flights and hotel for the American Telemedicine Association Conference in Seattle in April ’08, using the AMEX Platinum Travel Service. I was sort of hoping that this was like a real travel agent, like I used to use ten years ago….you give them the dates and preferences, and they come back with some alternatives. I also was hoping that they would be able to advise regarding various Platinum perks. Points of interest…

1. They charge a $39.00 booking fee for airline tickets. This made their quoted ticket prices higher than the online tickets through the Platinum Travel web site.

2. They couldn’t assist with offering any airline upgrades (from coach to business class)….that had to be done through the airline.

3. They couldn’t advise or assist with the Starwood Gold Preferred Hotel Point plan, …anything related to that had to be done at the hotel.

4. Bookings you do yourself through the web site give you double the membership award points that you would get if you book through their agency.

5. Their hotel rates were substantially higher than the rate given through the conference hotel booking agency. Their lowest quote was $259, and the conference agency quoted $198. It will be interesting to see if these are subject to the upgrade via Starwood once I get there.

So, at least on the planning side, I would say the perks from the Platinum card are minimal, when compared to an AMEX Gold card, and the touted “relationships” with other airline and hotel points programs appear to be at arm’s length.

I expected a little more juice. When I first called the Platinum number, I could press 1 for travel, 2 for problems with my credit card statement, and 3 for bookings of private jets and 4 for bookings of yachts. Oh well, I guess it’s back to coach class for moi.

At least I’m not planning to rent a car. The latest outrage is that Dollar Rent-A-Car is screwing people with a “top-off fee” of $2.00 extra if they bring their rental car back with a full tank of gas!

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One thought on “Amex Platinum Travel Perks

  1. Larry Keyes

    Update: A little more on Platinum…there was a post regarding the concierge service over at Ask Mr. Credit Card. It wasn’t pretty. My comment… Hi…I’ve been watching for experiences with the Platinum Card as I got one last fall, and I’m wondering if the $450 or so cost will be worth it. So I really appreciate your discussion of this. A couple of points: 1. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Concierge can get blood from a stone. If AMEX does not in fact have anything other than an arms-length relationship with the Franklin Institute, then I would expect them to be up-front about that and not raise customer’s expectations. In this case, it would have been nice if AMEX had reserved a block of tickets for Platinum customers, and indeed when those were taken, that Conscierge would know about it and appraise you of that fact. 2. I would hope that you’d be able to telephone the Concierge with your desire for tickets, and then ring off and have them do the legwork you described in steps 8-14. What is the point of the Concierge if you end up on the phone for 2 hours anyway? 3. If the point of the Concierge is to add value to the transaction, they certainly have not done so in this case, and the whole Concierge thing is basically a scam that interposes yet another party into a transaction. I noted in a comment a few weeks ago that my experience with Platinum online booking was better than trying to book through the Platinum “travel agency”. I got better rates than they quoted, and didn’t have to pay a $40.00 fee for the booking “service”. There is a lot of sillyness about the Platinum Card anyway…I just got their “catalog” of membership award “amenities” which included a year lease for a Masarati at 900,000 points, and way too much about private jet timeshares. What business travelers and people in the real world need are some help navigating the chaos of the whole “travel industry”, help in emergencies, and some more modest real perks that can save us time and aggravation. If Platinum can deliver those things, as I was lead to believe when I signed up, then fine, it will be worth the cost. If not…it is back to AMEX Gold for me.

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