Amex sweetens the deal for airline, hotel, car rental bookings
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More than four out of five consumers – 82%, to be exact – say travel is one of the top activities they miss as the pandemic drags on, according to a survey commissioned by American Express between Sept. 17 and 18.
If you’re part of the 82% consumed by wanderlust and you’re also an American Express cardmember, we’ve got great news. The issuer is sweetening the deal for those looking to make new travel bookings.
It’s against that backdrop that Amex is rolling out its latest offers. As Audrey Hendley, president of Amex Travel, described in an interview with TPG, “we’re backing up our cardmembers [with great new offers] and supporting them in all their travels.”
Let’s dive into the details — and show how you can maximize your next Amex Travel booking.
(Photo by LeoPatrizi/Getty Images)
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Discounted airfare offers
This exclusive benefit for Platinum cardmembers offers discounted international premium-cabin fares on more than 25 of the world’s best airlines. Booking through the IAP is often one of the best ways to unlock even-better pricing on a premium-cabin itinerary.
But in the midst of the pandemic, Amex found that only 40% of plane travelers are comfortable traveling domestically and far fewer are ready to fly internationally. Plus, most destinations abroad are closed to Americans.
That’s why Amex is introducing limited-time discounted pricing for select domestic airfare booked by Dec. 31, 2020, for travel through March 31, 2021. U.S. Platinum cardmembers can access these lower fares when booking on amextravel.com or by calling the Amex Travel team.
With the ability to save up to 22% off the public fare, this is a discount worth considering. You’ll still be able to earn frequent flyer points and elite status qualification — and you’ll earn 5x Membership Rewards for flights booked with your Platinum card. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
Hendley explained that “our cardmembers are thinking about traveling again within the U.S. We’re following those trends closely, and that’s why we’re excited about our discounted domestic fare options.”
On a sample search for a one-way flight from New York to Los Angeles, Amex offered discounted flights with American and Delta. Instead of a $1,219 one-way Delta business-class fare, Amex was charging $977, or about 20% less.
American was charging $859 for its exclusive Flagship First product. Amex’s price was $689 — a roughly 20% savings.
The discounts don’t appear to be as good for coach tickets. On a random Monday in October, Amex was discounting a Delta flight from New York to Miami by just $3. The savings with American were better — roughly 15% off the coach ticket price.
And rest assured that if you need to change or cancel your booking, Amex Travel will honor all airline partner flexible polices, Hendley noted. Plus, “from now until Dec. 31, we’re waiving the $39 Amex-imposed change or cancel fee for modifications made by phone,” Hendley added.
In addition, Amex cardmembers can now easily see if they have unused air credits for flights originally booked through Amex Travel. You can then contact Amex Travel for rebooking.
Combined with the fact that over 50% of Centurion Lounges have reopened, Amex is really sweetening the deal for Platinum cardmembers taking to the skies.
(Unfortunately, Amex didn’t have an update for us about unused airline fee credits for Platinum cardmembers.)
Promotional hotel rates and packages
Another lucrative perk of the Platinum card is access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program. When booking hotel stays through the program, cardmembers receive a host of additional benefits, like complimentary daily breakfast, space-available upgrades, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout and a unique property amenity valued at $100.
“We have tight partnerships with our FHR properties, and we periodically team up to do offers with them. But this time, we had a large-scale campaign behind this latest round of offers,” Hendley remarked.
Indeed, Amex has worked hard to incentivize you to get your head in an (FHR) bed. It started in September when eligible Platinum cardmembers began receiving an Amex Offer for FHR booking. After enrolling, you need to spend $800 or more (in one or more transactions) on prepaid FHR bookings at AmexTravel.com, and you’ll receive a one-time $150 statement credit.
This $150 credit is in addition to the existing suite of FHR benefits and applies for travel booked by Dec. 7, 2020. Plus, you’ll still earn 5x Membership Rewards on your prepaid FHR bookings.
But that’s not all.
More than 200 participating FHR properties have recently added additional benefits that you can stack on top of the aforementioned promotions. For example, the Ritz Carlton in Boston is offering an additional $375 property credit for stays of three nights or more. Other hotels are offering free nights, like a third-night-free offer at the Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Bungalows.
The promotions and required booking and travel dates vary by property. For the full list, check out Amex’s site. And if you’re wondering about the anti-coronavirus measures specific properties are implementing, Amex has built an internal COVID-19 informational hub for agents to reference, according to Hendley.
Redeem Membership Rewards for car rentals
Though some people are ready to take to the skies again, many still aren’t. But don’t fret if you’re among the latter; Amex has you covered too.
You’re now able to Pay with Points for prepaid car rentals booked through Amex Travel. This is a noteworthy milestone for the issuer, since car rental reservations are traditionally paid for when receiving or dropping off the car.
As such, Hendley is particularly excited about this innovation. Since cardmembers have been booking cars at higher rates than before, she mentioned that “we needed to figure out how to make the reservations prepaid. We’ve now done that. And customers love the Pay with Points option — it’s just like another currency.”
On a test booking, Amex was offering a rate of 0.7 cents per point, much lower than the TPG valuation of 2 cents per point.
Though you can now redeem Membership Rewards for cars, there’s no telling (yet) on whether you’ll earn bonus Membership Rewards when paying for a prepaid car reservation. According to Amex, “we’ll share more details… later this year.”
Note that Membership Rewards redemptions for car rentals will be covered under Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance that’s included with certain Amex cards.
Amex has added a host of exciting, limited-time offers for those looking to book future travel. In addition to the card’s existing top-notch travel benefits, you’ll now have access to discounted airfare, a rebate on FHR hotels, transfer bonuses, the ability to redeem points for car rentals and more.
These travel-focused offers join the previously announced limited-time statement credits designed for those stuck at home. The issuer added credits for streaming and wireless telephone carriers for the rest of the year for all Platinum cardholders.
All in all, even during the midst of the pandemic, there’s truly no better time to be a Platinum cardholder.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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