The complete guide to Amex Travel for 2023

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The site you use to book your travel matters. A lot.

You may not give much thought to the platform you use to reserve flights, hotel stays and more. Perhaps you just Google around to find the lowest price. But, if you’re in the business of elevating your travel game, you should know the tricks to receiving big discounts on airfare and hotel room upgrades simply by:

Amex Travel might just be the best in the business at rewarding its card holders for using its platform to book travel. You can get immense value if you know what you’re doing. Let’s take a look at how to use Amex Travel to upgrade your next vacation.

To book through Amex Travel, you’ll need an eligible American Express credit card. Soon after you navigate to the site, you’ll find that you need to log into your online Amex account before you can book your trip.

While many American Express cards provide access to Amex Travel, some of our favorites include:

If you’ve ever used sites like Orbitz or Expedia to book travel, you’ll have no problem navigating around Amex Travel. Its user interface is very similar to these popular online travel agencies.

The site’s landing page gives you an idea of Amex Travel’s range of booking capabilities. You can book airfare, accommodation (including hotel stays and vacation rentals), vacation packages, rental cars and cruises.

You’ll get all the usual search options when booking with Amex Travel. For example: When searching for airfare, you can choose your preferred airline, number of stops, seat class, departure and arrival times. And for hotel bookings, you can filter by price, amenities and hotel brand. You can even use a handy interactive map to find your ideal location.

Airfare and hotel prices are often competitive with prices you’ll find elsewhere, but there are some caveats:

  • Amex Travel doesn’t show basic economy fares in the search results, meaning you can sometimes find lower (though restricted) fares via Google Flights or directly with the airline. You must call Amex if you want to book basic economy tickets.
  • Amex Travel doesn’t display all available carriers. If you’re particular about the airline you fly, you may not be able to find what you’re looking for.
  • You may sometimes find slightly lower hotel prices when booking directly with the hotel. While Amex Travel boasts a Lowest Rate Guarantee, the terms give Amex some sizable loopholes to charge more.

No matter what sort of travel you’re booking, Amex Travel will give those with American Express Membership Rewards points the option to pay with cash, points or a mix of both.

That said, redeeming Membership Rewards points with Amex Travel isn’t always a great deal. Points are worth 1 cent each toward airfare and 0.7 cents each toward everything else (with one exception, which we’ll cover below).

This is generally considered to be a poor value. Travel website The Points Guy estimates that these points are worth 2 cents each toward travel when transferred to airline and hotel loyalty programs like Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Hilton Honors and others.

However, the freedom to book travel with no blackout dates might make Amex Travel your go-to option — especially if you can only vacation during peak travel dates such as the holiday season.

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Save on business class airfare and more when you book through Amex Travel.

The benefits of making your reservation through Amex Travel depends largely on which credit card you have. Again, most travelers with an American Express credit card can book travel through the portal, but some cards offer bonus points, statement credits and other savings.

If you hold a Membership Rewards-earning credit card, you’ll earn bonus rewards when spending with Amex Travel. Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Amex Platinum Card and Amex Business Platinum Card: Earn 5 points per dollar on travel booked through Amex Travel.
  • Amex Gold Card: Earns 3 points per dollar on flights and 2 points per dollar on prepaid hotels, cruises, prepaid car rentals and vacation rentals booked through Amex Travel.
  • American Express® Green Card: Earns 3 points per dollar on most travel purchases.
  • All other Membership Rewards-earning credit cards: Earn 2 points per dollar on flights, prepaid hotels, cruises, prepaid car rentals and vacation rentals.

American Express offers two programs that comprise a selection of curated hotels around the world.

The first is Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts. This features exclusively upscale properties — and only Amex Platinum, Business Platinum and Centurion card holders can use the program. American Express claims that the average hotel booking receives a total value of $600 per stay through perks such as:

  • Room upgrades (when available).
  • Daily breakfast for two people.
  • Guaranteed 4pm late check-out.
  • A unique amenity credit that varies by property, usually worth $100 (think a food and beverage credit or spa credit).

To boot, you can use Membership Rewards points to offset the cost of your stay at a rate of 1 cent each. That’s a significant improvement over the 0.7 cents per point you’ll get for using your rewards with properties that aren’t under the Fine Hotels + Resorts umbrella.

The second program is called The Hotel Collection. The hotels it features aren’t quite as luxe as Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts, but those with the Amex Gold Card or Amex Business Gold Card can access this benefit in addition to Amex Platinum card holders.

The Hotel Collection comes with a slightly less impressive bundle of perks to elevate your stay, and you must book at least two nights to get them. In short, you’ll receive a room upgrade (when available) and a $100 amenity credit that varies by property.

Each calendar year, Amex Platinum card holders receive up to $200 in credits to reimburse prepaid hotel stays reserved via either Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection. This credit is automatic, and it often appears within just a few days of booking.

To activate this benefit, a minimum stay of one night is required with Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts and a minimum stay of two nights is required with The Hotel Collection.

Those with an Amex Business Platinum receive a 35% rewards rebate (up to 1 million points back per calendar year) when using Amex points to book either first class fares and business class fares.

Likewise, Amex Business Platinum can select one of the following airlines for a 35% rebate on all flights, including those booked in economy and premium economy. You can only choose one airline for the entire year.

  • Alaska Airlines.
  • American Airlines.
  • Delta Air Lines.
  • Hawaiian Airlines.
  • JetBlue.
  • Southwest.
  • Spirit.
  • United Airlines.

A 35% rebate means your points are worth 1.54 cents each (instead of just 1 cent each) toward airfare. And don’t forget, you earn miles when you add your frequent flyer number to tickets booked through Amex Travel.

It’s also worth noting that the Amex Business Gold gets a smaller 25% rebate on the same flights. This rebate is capped at 250,000 points per year.

Amex Platinum, Business Platinum and Centurion card holders are eligible for lower fares for first, business, and premium economy classes when booking through Amex Travel. A handful of airlines participate in Amex’s International Airline Program including Aeromexico, Delta Air Lines, Emirates and others.

For example, a round-trip Delta business class flight between New York-JFK and Paris (CDG) costs $2,693.75 when booking directly through Delta this January.

Meanwhile, the same flight through Amex Travel’s International Airline Program costs $2,573.75, for a nice $120 discount.

Discounts vary by route, airline and other factors. If you have an Amex Platinum or Business Platinum card, it’s always worth checking Amex Travel before booking a premium cabin flight on participating carriers.

There are a handful of other features that make Amex Travel so rewarding too. Here’s a quick look at some of the most intriguing features.

Amex Travel discounts select airfares depending on the route. The catch is that you must pay the entire fare with Membership Rewards points. Discounts are often modest, but any opportunity to stretch rewards is certainly welcome.

When you reserve a flight through Amex Travel, you’ll earn airline miles as though you had booked with the airline. That’s not uncommon; many competing online travel agencies do the same.

But get this: Amex provides a field where you can enter your loyalty program number when reserving a hotel. This is unique in that you’re almost always ineligible to earn elite night credits or enjoy any elite status perks unless you book your stay directly with the hotel.

Data points show that it’s possible to get both elite night credits and elite status recognition with some hotels even when booking through Amex Travel — though if you don’t earn anything, you won’t have much recourse. Hotel programs generally outline in their terms that third-party channels don’t qualify for these benefits.

Amex Travel also stipulates that it can’t accept hotel loyalty program numbers for any hotel with a “Lowest Rates Guarantee” label. You’ll see this located prominently beside select hotels in your Amex Travel search results.

Those with an Amex Platinum or Business Platinum can take advantage of heightened benefits when reserving a cruise through Amex Travel. For eligible sailings of five nights or more, you’ll receive the following with participating cruise lines:

  • Up to $300 onboard credit per stateroom (used for dining, spa etc.).
  • 2 Amex points per dollar.
  • Various unique amenities depending on the cruise line.

While unlikely to be a game-changer, this program can help to make your vacation notably more enjoyable.

Amex Travel is a perfectly serviceable travel booking platform for American Express cardholders. But what really sets it apart is its hyper valuable perks for those with Membership Rewards-earning cards such as the Amex Platinum. You can receive hundreds of dollars in value each year — or even thousands, depending on how often you travel — by making Amex Travel your go-to for airfare and hotel stays.

Looking for a new travel credit card? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards currently available.

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