The ultimate credit card concierge test: 3 cards, $300 and 1 night in NYC
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As consumer trends evolve, so, too, do the perks on your credit card.
For years, many premium credit cards have offered concierge services that could lock down dinner reservations, secure sought-after event tickets and much, much more. But as technology platforms become more fully self-service, the personalized one-to-one assistance that cardholders may have once taken advantage of is changing — for better or worse.
Take The Platinum Card® from American Express, for instance. In August 2021, Amex eliminated the ability to email the Platinum card concierge, forcing cardholders to contact them by phone only. However, there apparently remains a market for concierge services, as several major card networks and issuers continue to offer them on a complimentary basis to select cardholders.
We put three of these services — Amex, Mastercard and Visa — to the test for one night out in New York City to see if they are worth your time and the effort it takes to use them.
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What are credit card concierges and which cards offer them?
Historically, concierge service has been one of the more intriguing (and arcane) perks offered by premium credit cards. Credit card concierges are basically customer service representatives that cardholders can contact to help with day-to-day tasks and needs, such as making restaurant reservations, locating an item they want to purchase as a gift, planning travel, and even tracking down lost items, such as a piece of clothing you left in a hotel room.
These concierge services have typically only been associated with higher-end cards, such as the Amex Platinum. But you might have access to concierge services with another card and not even know it.
For instance, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card, you may have noticed that they carry Visa Infinite branding, unlocking access to the Visa Infinite Concierge.
Many World Elite Mastercards also come with concierge service — including some with no annual fee. For instance, the Chase Freedom Flex, a no-annual-fee card, is a World Elite Mastercard, meaning that even these cardholders can access a live concierge agent.
Helpful hint: If you’re not sure which type of card you have, simply take a look at the back of your card or check out your card’s guide to benefits and that should tell you its designation.
The ultimate concierge test
Concierge service isn’t exactly a quantifiable benefit, so it’s hard to know how useful or valuable it actually is. That’s why we came up with a test.
We wanted to see how the Amex, Visa Infinite and World Elite Mastercard concierges stacked up by asking them to help us plan the ultimate one-night experience in New York City. Three TPG staffers each contacted their respective concierges to help them with their requests. Our total budget? $300 per person for the entire night. Here were the deliverables:
- One ticket to a sold-out Dua Lipa concert at Madison Square Garden.
- One last-minute dinner reservation to Cote, a Michelin star-rated Korean restaurant.
- One fanny pack accessory for the concert.
While these requests might seem fairly simple, our limited budget created some serious constraints that tested the abilities of our concierges (if we could even reach them, that is).
Additionally, the Dua Lipa concert was already sold out to the public and Cote reservations aren’t easy to come by. Here’s how it all turned out.
Amex vs. Visa vs. Mastercard
Here’s how our initial outreach went, then read on to find out the specifics on where we went and what we spent.
Visa Infinite concierge
— Benji Stawski, senior reporter
I used to be a frequent user of the American Express concierge, but with hold times lengthening, and email requests no longer being an option, I’ve been leaning more on the Visa Infinite Concierge, which I have access to through my Chase Sapphire Reserve.
I submitted my request via an email to email@example.com on a Friday afternoon. Two days later, on Sunday evening, I received a detailed response, including a specially prepared report with three ticket options, availability for the restaurant I originally requested, three backup dining recommendations as well as three fanny pack options.
The email, as well as the attachment, were tailored specifically to my needs and didn’t feel scripted.
When listing the fanny pack options, the concierge listed the full price including taxes and fees, the estimated delivery time and the link to purchase the product.
Although the concierge sent me ticket options via email, I needed to call the concierge desk to actually purchase them (877-660-0905). Luckily, there was no hold time and I was connected to an agent right away when I called. The only (minor) inconvenience was that I needed to read out my payment information over the phone as the concierge didn’t have it stored in their system like the American Express concierge.
I also sent several follow-up emails to the concierge with additional questions and those were all responded to within 24 hours. All in all, color me impressed.
Amex Platinum concierge
— Chris Dong, reporter
The biggest downside to the Amex Platinum concierge is that, as of August 2021, the only option to reach an agent is via phone. And spoiler alert: Things didn’t go well from the get-go.
First, I called the number on the back of my Platinum card and asked for a concierge. An automated recording told me that, “Wait times were longer than usual,” and suggested that I opt for a call back when an agent was available. While I was impressed that this functionality was offered, the phone system didn’t provide any sort of estimated time for when I should receive a call.
Nearly four hours later, I received a call while I was in a meeting and could not respond. Unfortunately, that meant I had to call the Amex concierge again and be placed at the back of the queue to await a second call back.
This time, I waited nearly three hours before an agent rang my number. As I explained my requests, I could hear the agent typing and taking notes. Instead of providing details via the phone, he insisted that he email me information and would confirm my requests in written form.
Interestingly, this seemingly confirmed that Amex is continuing outbound concierge communications via email, but there is no way to initially start an email thread with an agent unless they do so first.
Unfortunately, after waiting three days, I never actually received an email from the Platinum concierge. By this point, I was very disappointed by the overall experience and decided not to bother calling again, only to wait on hold or receive another callback hours later.
Instead, I looked for concert tickets that were being resold on Ticketmaster, set an alert for Cote on Resy and went shopping for a fanny pack on my own at Zara (more on this below).
World Elite Mastercard concierge
— Stella Shon, reporter
While the card issuer determines most of the benefits on your card, don’t overlook the perks that can come from the card network as well.
For instance, if you carry a Mastercard, there are three levels of service: Mastercard, World Mastercard and World Elite Mastercard. The latter offers some exclusive perks, from DoorDash and Lyft credits to access to the World Elite Mastercard concierge.
While a complimentary concierge may only seem like it would come with luxury travel cards like the Amex Platinum or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, many “less premium” cards also come with this benefit. In fact, I carry a few World Elite Mastercards from multiple issuers; namely, my Chase Freedom Flex and my (Barclays) JetBlue Plus Card. You can confirm your eligibility by inputting your card number on Mastercard Concierge’s website.
The information for the JetBlue Plus card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
For the sake of this test, I decided to test out the concierge courtesy of my Chase Freedom Flex, since I was curious to know how this no-annual-fee cash-back card would fare against its more premium counterparts. I went to the World Elite Mastercard Concierge landing page and confirmed my eligibility within a matter of seconds by entering my card info. I was able to create an account login to reap the full benefits of my World Elite Mastercard benefits.
On the right, you’ll notice that you have the option to call or email the concierge. I filled out the email request form with all the details on a Friday afternoon.
Upon submitting my request, I received the following automated response:
“You should expect to receive a customized response to your request within approximately 6 hours. If your request is received after 8:00 pm local time or requires extensive research, you should expect a response within 24 hours.”
But by Monday afternoon (almost 72 hours later), I still hadn’t heard from Mastercard Concierge. I sent a follow-up email nudging my request, and within 30 minutes, I received another response:
“The concierge who is handling your case will be in tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. ET. I have advised her to reach out to you with an update.”
By Tuesday afternoon, I received a full response from the concierge — about four days from my initial request.
My concierge representative clearly stated that my $300 budget wouldn’t have been possible to cover all three parts of my request, so instead she provided the price of one concert ticket for $279 including taxes and fees — which ate into the vast majority of my budget. However, she did not even attempt to send fanny pack or alternate dinner reservations.
When it came time to book my ticket, I had to call the World Elite Mastercard Concierge (1-833-999-3788) since tickets were subject to availability. The booking process was simple and easy; I was connected within seconds, handed over my card number again and quickly received an email with my booking.
All in all, I wasn’t impressed with the World Elite Mastercard Concierge for several reasons. The request time took much longer than quoted, and by the time I received the response, I could have found and booked that ticket online myself.
In sum, I didn’t feel like I saved time or money by booking with the concierge, so I likely wouldn’t defer to them again for any future requests.
How much we spent
Visa Infinite Concierge
— Benji Stawski, senior reporter
Fanny pack: $20
Dinner: $100 (for three people)
While my seat was a bit further away from the stage than I would have liked and I ended up dining at a slightly more casual restaurant than originally planned, I ultimately was able to stick to my $300 budget.
My concert ticket came out to around $180. The Visa Infinite Concierge didn’t have any special access to tickets for this concert and just sent the same ones I saw available through Ticketmaster. On the bright side, the price was the same so I didn’t pay a premium for going through the concierge.
Next, I spent about $20 on my fanny pack, including taxes and shipping. To my delight, the price ended up being even lower than what the concierge originally quoted. I was particularly impressed that the concierge tried their best to stick to my budget and sent me some options that were on sale, as opposed to just sending the first results on Google.
That left me with about $100 to spend at the restaurant. That was more than enough to cover my meal so I also treated my fellow TPG staffers, Stella Shon and Chris Dong, to their dinners to max out my budget.
Amex Platinum concierge
— Chris Dong, reporter
Fanny pack: $30
After spending hours trying to reach the Amex concierge, I gave up and set out on a quest to plan the night on my own.
The lowest cost seat that I could find was through Ticketmaster’s resale channel, and cost me approximately $240.
Next, I stopped by a Zara retailer in Manhattan to pick up a fanny pack for the show, which cost me $30. While I still had $30 remaining as part of my $300 budget, my fellow TPG staffer treated me to dinner at a casual ramen restaurant.
Mastercard World Elite concierge
— Stella Shon, reporter
Fanny pack: $0
My concert ticket was the most expensive of the group at $279, which was the exact same price that I found on Ticketmaster. That left me with just $20 in my budget, which I spent on a stale pretzel and water at Madison Square Garden.
I borrowed my roommate’s fanny pack for the concert and was grateful that fellow staffer Benji Stawski was willing to share his budget for our dinner that night.
Are credit card concierges worth it?
Overall, our concierge experiences were a mixed bag. While the Visa Infinite concierge didn’t save our reporter much money, it did save him time.
Meanwhile, it was extremely difficult to reach the Amex Platinum concierge, so much so that I decided it was much more efficient to fulfill the requests on my own. It’s notable that the Platinum, a card that carries a $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) and is by far the most expensive of the bunch, performed the worst on this concierge test.
Finally, the Mastercard World Elite concierge took much longer than the quoted times and did not provide any value-added experience. While this concierge service is available to those even with no-annual-fee cards, our reporter would personally not reach out to them again.
Our night out in New York City was a memorable experience, but our credit card concierges only helped a modest amount (or in some cases, none at all).
The Visa Infinite concierge was the only service to provide actual utility. Not only were they able to secure dinner reservations at Cote and get tickets to the concert at the lowest price, they also saved our reporter time — likely the most valuable benefit of a concierge.
While we didn’t end up dining at Cote due to our budget constraints (and the fact that neither the Mastercard or Amex concierges could get a table), we still enjoyed our dinner at a casual ramen joint and had a blast listening to Dua Lipa from our seats up in the rafters.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
Featured photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy.
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