Every time I am on a trip or travel I have many different American Express credit cards in my wallet. American Express is so sought after because of the service, the many travel benefits, its partnerships with different travel providers, and its own Membership Rewards points system. These days, consumers have no lack of choices when it comes to premium credit cards. Although, AMEX is less widely accepted than its competition this shouldn’t scare a consumer off. American Express has needed to continually revamp the card in an effort both to retain existing card holders and acquire new ones. Here’s how you can look at AMEX’s benefits and figure out if you are maximizing its value enough to benefit your travels.
- No transaction fees
- Secondary car rental loss and damage insurance-covers the rental car when damaged or stolen
- Lost/damaged baggage insurance-up to $3,000 per traveler, but only $1,000 per traveler for high-risk items
- Medical evacuation benefit insurance-offered with no cap on trips of less than 90 days, but excludes pre-existing conditions
- Travel accident insurance-up to $500,00 per person
- Points transfer to 20+ airline and hotel partners
- Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred, and National Emerald Club Executive (platinum AMEX card)
- Complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott
- Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass Lounges, and Delta Sky Clubs when fly Delta (platinum AMEX card)
- Up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck
- Annual airline fee credit on incidental fees charged by the airline you select
- Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines and on points on prepaid hotels booked on AMEXTravel.com
- Uber credit split into monthly credits (platinum AMEX card)
1. Airline Fee Credit
If you have the Platinum Card you get this most basic yet still confusing (to some) credit of $200 to use over the course of a calendar year (not a card member year). First, card holders must select the single airline on which they would like to use it. Technically, this credit is meant to be used toward incidentals like checked baggage fees, seat assignment fees, airline lounge passes and other expenses like that.
2. Uber Credits
This is one of AMEX’s newer perks that started in 2017 (platinum only). Card holders receive up to $200 in ride credits per calendar year and Uber VIP status, which gives them access to better cars and better rated drivers in select locations. To take advantage of this benefit, you must link your Platinum Card to your Uber account. Then you automatically receive $15 in credit each month, except for December, when you get $35 worth of credit.
3. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Credit
No more waiting in lines at the airport and you can optimize your time when traveling on a trip. When you pay for the $100 Global Entry application fee or the $85 TSA PreCheck fee using your card, it will be refunded to you as a statement credit. Card holders are eligible for this statement credit every four years since you have to renew your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership every five years.
4. Lounge Access (my favorite)
If you fly a lot you have some of the best lounge access benefits of any credit card out there thanks to partnerships with Delta Airlines, Priority Pass, Loungebuddy App, and its own network of Centurion Lounges.
The card’s Priority Pass Select membership gets the card holder and two guest into over 1,200 lounges worldwide for free. Platinum Card only gets card holders into Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta Airlines. Card holder can bring up to two guest, but must pay $29 per guest and starting earlier this year these guests will also need to be flying Delta. Lastly, the Centurion Lounge network has lounges in multiple US cities as well as lounges internationally.
5. Fine Hotels & Resorts
I just stayed at the Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko Olina. While there I had benefits that included early check in around noon, room upgrades (based on availability), daily breakfast for two people ($50-$100 credit daily), complimentary Wi-Fi, guaranteed 4PM late checkout, third or fourth night for free at some properties, and on-property credits for things like dining or spa treatments. By taking advantage of a third or fourth night free and free breakfast alone that can be worth hundreds of dollars if you can find a good deal.
6. Car Rental Elite Status
Card holders can also enroll for status with several car rental programs including Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status. Though rental car perks are hard to quantify, conveniences, varying discounts and time-saving benefits like guaranteed availability and return grace periods can be invaluable.
7. Marriott Rewards and Hilton Honors Elite Status
As a card holder you can enroll for Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Gold Elite Status.
8. Membership Rewards Pay with Points
As a card member you can use Membership Rewards points for all or part of your flight, vacation, or cruise booking and for hotels booked and paid in advance when booking through AMEX travel. There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions, and the best news here you can still earn rewards with your airline or hotel loyalty programs.
Through Amex’s International Airline Program you can get discounts on premium economy, business- and first-class tickets on 20+ airlines. The card holder must be traveling, but you can purchase up to eight tickets on the same reservation with participating airlines including Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates and LATAM among others. The only downsides are that you have to call in to Amex’s customer service desk to book the tickets and you’ll need to pay a $39 service fee per ticket.
9. Cruise Privileges Program
AMEX members receive $100 shipboard credit for inside and outside staterooms; $200 shipboard credit for balcony, veranda and mini-suite staterooms; and $300 shipboard credit for suites on Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. There’s a limit of one benefit package per stateroom and a three-stateroom limit per card member per sailing.
If you travel occasionally and want to maximize perks like lounge access, travel on different international airlines, and surprise that special someone in your life with a luxury hotel/resort stay you need to be spending your money with American Express!