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American Express has been in the travel business since 1915, and still offers a wide variety of travel-related services for its cardmembers. The easiest way to access these services is through Amex Travel, americanexpress.com/travel. Here’s some tips on how to take advantage of the best offers on American Express travel.
Use an American Express Platinum Card for 5X on Flights and Hotels
If you have an American Express Platinum charge card (personal or business), you’ll earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights, prepaid hotels, and flight+hotel packages booked through the Amex Travel website.
This can be a great deal, though you should be aware of a couple of caveats: unlike the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige, Amex’ Platinum cards don’t offer any insurance for trip delays or cancellations. And for hotels, booking through Amex Travel usually means you won’t receive elite benefits with the hotel’s loyalty program. So you have to choose what’s more important to you!
Note that you will not earn 5X Membership Rewards points on other purchases through amextravel.com such as car rentals and cruises (you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on cruise bookings).
Earn 2X Membership Rewards Points with Any Other Membership Rewards Card
If you don’t have an Amex Platinum card, don’t worry – if you use any other Membership Rewards credit card to book travel through the Amex Travel website (like the American Express Everyday or Everyday Preferred credit cards, or any Green or Gold charge card), you’ll still earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights, prepaid hotels, flight+hotel packages, and cruises through the Amex Travel website.
Redeem Membership Rewards Points for Travel Purchases
Amex Travel is the only place you can redeem your Membership Rewards points directly for travel. Unfortunately, it’s usually not the best use of Membership Rewards points – each point is worth 1 cent, the same rate you’d get if you just cashed out your points for statement credits, and less than you’d get if you used the American Express Platinum Card for Schwab to cash out Membership Rewards points into a Schwab brokerage account.
Get a 35% Points Rebate with the Business Platinum Card
If you have a Business Platinum card, you’ll get a 35% rebate on the points you redeem for economy flights on your selected airline (the same airline you choose for the $200 annual travel credit), or First/Business class flights on any airline. While this is less value than you get using Ultimate Rewards points for travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it’s about on par with using Citi ThankYou Points with the Citi Prestige, and can be a good alternative to transferring points to a partner airline depending on your travel needs.
If your selected airline is Spirit or Southwest, you’ll need to book over the phone, since those airlines’ flights don’t appear on the Amex Travel website. According to the terms, the points rebate should appear within 6-10 weeks, but in practice it usually comes faster.
Save Points with Insider Fares on Delta Flights
If you book certain Delta flights through Amex Travel and use your Membership Rewards points to pay for the entire fare, you’ll get a slightly better redemption rate for your points – about 1.05 cents per point, rather than the usual 1 cent per point. It’s nothing to write home about, but it might be enough to tip the scales if you’re having trouble deciding which flight you want (This stacks with the 35% rebate if you have a Business Platinum card.)
Secure Extra Hotel Benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection
Amex offers two hotel benefit programs for certain: Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) for Platinum and Centurion cardmembers, and The Hotel Collection for Gold, Platinum, and Centurion cardmembers. (Note that these are for American Express branded charge cards, and does not apply to co-branded credit cards like the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card).
Prices for hotels booked through this program are often a bit higher than booking directly with the hotel, but the value of the additional benefits may outweigh the added cost – just be sure to comparison shop before making your purchase.
Unlike most hotel bookings through Amex Travel, Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings are usually eligible rates for hotel loyalty programs – so you should earn elite qualifying nights and stays, and enjoy any additional benefits you’re entitled to if you have elite status.
Watch for Amex Offers to Save Money on Hotel Bookings
American Express periodically offers bonus Membership Rewards points or cash rebates for booking hotels through Amex Travel. For example, in August 2017 there was a targeted Amex Offer for 7,500–10,000 bonus points with a $500 prepaid hotel booking on Amex Travel, and in November 2017 there was a targeted offer for 10,000 bonus points with a $500 prepaid hotel booking. In July 2016, you could get $80 back on a $500 hotel booking. So if you have a big hotel purchase coming up, keep an eye out for Amex Offers – and remember, these discounts will stack with the normal 2X/5X Membership Rewards points!
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.