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!