Battle of the premium credit cards: Comparing concierge services
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
Over the last few years, the explosion of premium credit cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige® Card, has made several luxury travel perks readily available to most consumers. For example, it’s rare to see a high-end credit card these days that doesn’t offer some form of a Priority Pass lounge membership and a travel or airline credit worth hundreds of dollars.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
All three of these major premium credit cards also offer a concierge service to their cardholders. These services are provided by third-party companies and not by the issuers themselves, so the responsiveness and quality of the results can vary. We decided to put them to the test and see which concierge service is best equipped to handle your needs.
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Designing the perfect concierge test
Creating the right “experiment” was tricky here. I didn’t want to make three identical restaurant reservations and then cancel or no-show all of them and waste everyone’s time. On the other hand, I also had a strong hunch that, outside of the fanciest restaurants in the country, there wouldn’t be much variation in how well these concierges could lock down a reservation for me. The same thing goes for travel itineraries — unless you’re going to a remote island in a far corner of the world, all concierges should have access to the same flight options for you.
I needed a request that would give each concierge a chance to show some creativity. As luck would have it, my own laziness created the perfect opening. My upcoming itinerary to Italy included a 12-hour layover at Athens International Airport (ATH), and I was 100% committed to getting out of the airport and exploring the city a bit since Greece has recently reopened to travelers.
I called the Chase, Amex and Citi concierges roughly three weeks before my departure and asked them for help with five relatively simple questions:
- Where can I store my luggage (carry-on and backpack) at ATH?
- What is the cheapest and easiest way to get into the city?
- Where would you recommend I eat in order to experience authentic and local cuisine?
- What are the “must-sees” or “must-do’s” to make sure I get the most out of my 12 hours?
- What are the current COVID-19 restrictions and regulations to be wary of?
While I ended up getting a lot of useful information for my trip, each of the three responses had some serious pluses and minuses. Here’s the rundown.
First, the table below shows the amount of time it took to get through to each concierge, from the time I dialed the phone number to the time my account had been authenticated and I was speaking to a live human.
You can also reach the Amex Platinum concierge by chatting with them through the Amex app or via email. While this is great for simple requests like restaurant reservations, I wanted to speak to a human for a more complicated request.
|Amex Platinum (Platinum Card Concierge)||14 minutes|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve (Visa Infinite Concierge)||2 minutes|
|Citi Prestige (Citi Concierge)||21 minutes|
While I could reach Chase’s concierge service the fastest, there isn’t too much variation here — certainly not enough to choose one service over another. What matters is how long it took for each concierge service to complete my full request.
None of the concierge services could fulfill my requests on the spot (which is to be expected), so where the differences started to become strikingly apparent was how long it took them to follow up.
Visa Infinite Concierge divided their answer into two parts. I received one email with luggage storage and transportation information and a second email with a more complete city guide.
|Card||Email No. 1 wait time||Email No. 2 wait time|
|Amex Platinum (Platinum Card Concierge)||5 days||N/A|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve (Visa Infinite Concierge)||1 day (25 hours)||9 days|
|Citi Prestige (Citi Concierge)||9 days||N/A|
Platinum Card Concierge was the only one that responded to my request within the week (five days) with all of the information that I had requested in one email. While Visa Infinite Concierge was the first to respond to me with initial restaurant recommendations, I didn’t receive the full details of my request until nine days later.
Meanwhile, Citi emailed me within a couple of days, stating that I’d receive a response no later than June 14. That day came with no email, so I pinged them on June 15. I finally got a reply with all the answers on June 18 — nine days later — but it’s unclear whether Citi would have responded if it weren’t for my follow-up email.
Winner: Platinum Card Concierge knocked it out of the park with a reasonable phone hold time (just 14 minutes) and my full request was fulfilled within five days!
All three concierge services suggested the same luggage storage at ATH: Care4Bag. Located in the Arrivals Hall, this seems like a popular option that travelers use when flying through Athens.
However, out of the three concierge services, Visa Infinite Concierge serviced my request best as it did something the others failed to do — offer a pricing estimate.
At the Athens airport, bag storage is available in the Arrivals Hall from Care4Bag. Pricing is dependent on the size of the items and the total amount of time stored; for your two small bags and a 12-hour layover, it appears you will pay no more than €20.00 at most. Please note that Care4Bag recommends allowing some additional time to retrieve your bag, in case there is a line at their desk when you arrive to pick up your items.
Winner: While all three concierges did a great job providing me with this information, Visa Infinite Concierge presented the information clearly and concisely, providing estimates tailored to my situation.
Local and public transportation
Let’s start with the options that Platinum Card Concierge provided. Amex sourced its information from the travel website Frommers, which emphasized that public transportation is the best option in Athens — especially the Metro, since buses can get stuck in rush hour traffic. This would certainly be my best option since I would have minimal luggage with me.
Platinum Card Concierge provided the following information about the metro:
- Prices for the Metro: 8 euros one-way, 14 euros round-trip (valid for 48 hours); one-way fare for two people is 15 euros and 20 euros for three.
- Route: Metro Line 3, which serves the city center.
- Duration of trip: Roughly 40 minutes, with trains running every half-hour from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
- Metro hours: 5:30 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
- Other information: The airport ticket is valid for all forms of public transportation for 90 minutes; if you’re approaching 90 minutes and are still in transit, simply revalidate your ticket by having it punched again.
Meanwhile, Visa Infinite Concierge provided this information about the metro:
- Route: The Metro’s Blue Line travels from the airport directly into the city center, with the Monastiraki and Syntagma stops located closest to the Acropolis and other notable sites.
- Prices: Tickets can be purchased at automated ticketing machines in the station, and round-trip transport from and to the airport should cost around 18 euros total if purchased as a single ticket.
- Other information: For more information about the Metro, click here. For a high-quality map of the Metro system, click here.
Platinum Card Concierge was the only other service to provide information on alternative modes of transportation. At first, they suggested that I take an Uber and recommended that I use the Amex Platinum’s $15 monthly Uber Cash credit. However, this is incorrect since the Uber credit can’t be used abroad.
I did receive information about the suburban railroad as another option into the city. Here’s the info I received:
The suburban railroad (www.trainose.gr/en) runs to and from the Larissa station, Doukissis Plakentias, with a connection to Metro line 1 at Nerantziotissa (at the Athens Mall in Marousi near the Athens Olympic Complex) and from the airport to the port of Piraeus. It might not be as convenient as line 3 to get downtown, but it is more comfortable, not as crowded and runs longer hours. Trains to the airport run from 4:30 a.m. to midnight, while the trains from the airport to the city run from 5:00 a.m. to 1:20 a.m. The suburban railroad has the same pricing as the Metro; the only difference is that the return ticket is valid for a month. This is the best option to get from the airport to the port of Piraeus. Total travel time: 65 minutes.
Surprisingly enough, Citi Concierge did not acknowledge my transportation request question — which is even more unfortunate since the service took the longest to respond to my request.
Winner: The clear winner here is Platinum Card Concierge. Although they were incorrect that I could use my $15 monthly Uber Cash credit on Uber rides internationally, the breadth of information about transportation options was more than satisfactory.
All three concierge services provided excellent restaurant recommendations with all the necessary information (address, hours, phone number and type of cuisine).
|Card||Number of restaurant recommendations|
|Amex Platinum (Platinum Card Concierge)||5|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve (Visa Infinite Concierge)||5|
|Citi Prestige (Citi Concierge)||2|
Winner: Platinum Card Concierge wins even if they provided the same number of recommendations as Visa Infinite Concierge. They took it a step further and provided a quick blurb about the cuisine, if a restaurant was card-only, its atmosphere and more. Meanwhile, Visa Infinite Concierge merely provided a brief sentence or two about each restaurant. But if you’re the type of traveler that gets overwhelmed by options, Citi Concierge also narrowed it down nicely to two restaurants that sound decadent. They even gave us a heads-up that one of the restaurants gets booked up quickly, so reservations are recommended.
Platinum Card Concierge provided an incredibly robust number of activities (and even a photo gallery of these recommendations) for my 12-hour layover in Athens. I could see this being a great service if you have an extensive amount of time in a new place and have no idea what to do. They provided options catering to every traveler, including:
- Historic sites.
- Neighborhoods and districts.
- Parks and gardens.
- Zoos and wildlife.
- Boating and sailing.
- Hiking and walking.
- Scuba and snorkeling.
- Nightlife (bars, taverns and pubs).
- Live music.
- Performing arts (dance, film, music and opera).
- Ticket brokers and venues.
Not only did Platinum Card Concierge provide countless recommendations for each of the activities listed above (with hours, activities and a quick paragraph), they also listed some companies that offered day trips that I could easily reach out to for my 12-hour layover.
My favorite part, though, was the inclusion of tips and resources. At the bottom of the guide, I got insight into clothing etiquette, personal safety, Athens’ cultural calendar and more. Platinum Card Concierge also included contact information for tourist offices in case of an emergency.
Meanwhile, Visa Infinite Concierge and Citi Concierge did not acknowledge my request about the must-sees or must-do’s. There is a chance that I could receive a follow-up email from them in the near future. However, given that it’s been almost two weeks since my initial request, it’s unlikely that I’ll hear back.
Winner: Platinum Card Concierge wins without a fight, but even if Visa Infinite Concierge and Citi Concierge got back to me, I’m confident that Platinum Card Concierge still would have won. They provided tons of options that made me want to turn my layover into a full-blown trip to Athens. While there were so many options to choose from, I appreciated that each description was concise yet informative. If you’re overwhelmed, you can even select from the many tour companies they hand-picked to help delegate your trip planning.
Out of all the concierge services, Citi Concierge provided the most in-depth information about COVID-19 procedures and entry requirements for vaccinated travelers in Greece, providing FAQs and information about the following:
- Travel documentation needed.
- Health protocols of the hospitality and tourism industry in Greece.
- Acceptable vaccines.
- International, land and ferry travel requirements.
- Business activity protocols.
- Testing requirements for travelers (including minors).
- Information about quarantine hotels.
- Yacht and cruise ship restrictions.
- Finding a PCR test to return to the traveler’s home country.
When it came to coronavirus-related information, the next-best service was Platinum Card Concierge, providing information directly from the U.S. Embassy website. Topics included museums and retail reopening, masks, capacity limits and other pandemic restrictions.
Visa Infinite Concierge provided the least amount of information, stating that “COVID-19 restrictions are dependent on your point of origin.” However, they briefly discussed mask-wearing procedures, curfews and capacity limits in museums and other tourist attractions.
Winner: I was beyond impressed with Citi Concierge. It seemed like this concierge service knew everything there was to know about coronavirus protocols in Greece, including hard-to-find information about boat travel restrictions and finding a PCR test to return to your home country.
Each of these three concierge services offered something that the others did not, so if you hold multiple premium credit cards and have access to multiple concierge services, I’d encourage you to utilize them all (provided you have ample time to do so). While it’s easy to pick a winner for individual categories, it’s harder to do so overall. I’d say the overlap of information, advice and recommendations I received from all three was far better than any one service on its own.
I could see how useful consulting a concierge service is, especially regarding the ever-changing requirements for vaccinated travelers and international travel.
Personally, I’ll continue to ask Amex for its massive city guides before any future trips as a way to supplement my own research, and I’ll be asking Citi to handle COVID-19 logistics. I can’t say I’ll be asking Chase for anything specific except to improve the quality of its concierge results.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
Featured photo by jacoblund for Getty Images.
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