Amex Travel: When It Makes Sense & How to Find The Best Deals

Using Amex Travel to book your next trip could improve your travels more than you realize — especially if you’re an Amex cardholder.
Last updated Sep 23, 2020 | By Jason Lawenda
when amex travel makes sense to use for trip

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When you think of American Express, charge cards and credit cards probably come to mind. Many people don’t realize that 50+ years before they got into the consumer credit card game, American Express was in the travel agency business dating back to 1915. Today, that service still exists, and it’s called American Express Travel, or Amex Travel for short.

Amex Travel is available to anyone who wants to use it for a nominal fee. But if you have one of the American Express credit cards, the fees are waived, and you get to enjoy a few additional travel perks.

Keep reading to learn the basics of Amex Travel, the costs associated with it, the services it offers, and — most importantly — when using it makes sense.

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What is Amex Travel?

Amex Travel is an OTA, or Online Travel Agency, and you can think of it like the original Expedia or Orbitz. It’s a service that can help you plan and book all sorts of travel, such as flights, hotels and resorts, rental cars, cruises, flight and hotel packages, or even an entire trip package. As mentioned, it’s available for anyone to use, although Amex cardholders can get significantly more value from it.

How to book with Amex Travel

Services can be booked online or by phone. To book online, simply visit the American Express Travel website. Or you can call Amex Travel's customer service toll-free at 800-297-2977. 

Amex Travel fees

There’s a nominal fee to use the service, which is built into the cost of the ticket, whether you book online or call. Just note: If you call to speak with a representative to book your travel, there’s an additional $39 fee.

These fees are waived if you have the Platinum Card from American Express, Business Platinum Card from American Express, or American Express Centurion Card.

To me, the fees are usually worth it for many people, since you’ll have a knowledgeable American Express representative available 24/7 should something go wrong and you need help to resolve the issue in real time.

Using Amex Travel for flights

Searching for flights with Amex Travel is like using any other online travel site. You can search one-way, round-trip, or multi-city flights. Personally, if I need to connect, I try to find a connection that has an Amex Centurion Lounge. These lounges are among the best, and Platinum and Centurion cardholders get in for free.

You can also do specific city or airport searches (don’t rule out a city search, as a regional airport might offer a better value), select your departure and return dates, and opt for a three-day search to find the lowest fare.

when it makes sense to use amex travel flight search
Amex Travel flight search

Once the results populate, you’ll notice Delta flights appear at the top as a “featured airline.” This is because of the partnership between Delta and American Express (which has recently been extended through 2029). Under the featured airline, you’ll see more results, starting with the lowest fares. You can also filter the results by the number of stops, departure/arrival times, specific flight number, and airline.

If you’re logged in, you may see discounted fares if you have enough Membership Rewards to cover the cost of the flight, or you may see an insider fare offering a deeper discount. If you decide to use your Membership Rewards to book a flight, you can expect a value of one cent to 1.05 cents per point. Not necessarily the best value or use of points, but it might make sense, depending on your travel plans. I tend to find the best value when transferring Membership Rewards to one of the many airline partners of American Express.

Amex Travel fees to book flights

American Express charges a flat fee of $6.99 per domestic ticket and $10.99 per international ticket, which are bundled into the price of the flight. These fees are waived for Platinum and Centurion cardholders.

Using Amex Travel for flight and hotel packages

Next up, let’s take a look at flight and hotel packages. Just like other online travel sites, you can book flight and hotel packages through Amex Travel. Besides the incredible service, you can often receive exclusive perks, discounts, and special promotions as well.

The rates you’ll see in the results field will show a total per person, which is inclusive of all taxes and fees with the cheapest flight option appearing first. Once you select a hotel, you can choose a specific flight, and the price will adjust accordingly.

I’ve found that sometimes you can save a few hundred dollars by booking flights and hotels separately, but it takes a little patience and time to compare pricing and options. You also tend to have a bit less flexibility if you book a package deal instead of booking separately, so be sure to read the fine print and consider the limitations before booking a package deal.

Amex Travel fees to book flight and hotel packages

The fee structure is the same as booking a flight reservation, which means $6.99 per domestic ticket or $10.99 per international ticket (bundled into the cost of the flight). Fees for Platinum and Centurion cardholders are waived.

Using Amex Travel for hotels

Now let’s get into what I tend to use Amex Travel for the most — hotel searches.

Option #1: Standard booking

To start your search, input the city, dates, number of rooms, and number of guests. The search results will be based on price, reviews, and location and will populate a list of “recommended” at the top of the results.

Amex Travel fees to book hotels

Rates can get a little confusing, as Amex Travel doesn’t include all fees and taxes on the results page (you have to select and click through to see them). I’ve found the pricing to be similar to other online travel sites and almost always a little higher than booking directly with the hotel.

This might make sense for you depending on your needs, such as wanting to book an independent hotel or if you aren’t in the loyalty program. Personally, I prefer taking advantage of a different program offered through Amex Travel called Fine Hotels & Resorts, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Option #2: The Hotel Collection

Using Amex Travel to access The Hotel Collection guarantees the lowest rates when you book a prepaid rate, plus a few premium perks.

when it makes sense to use amex travel hotel collection benefits
Amex Travel Hotel Collection benefits

The benefits include:

  • Room upgrades at check-in (based on availability)
  • $100 hotel credit (good for things like dining or the spa)
  • Amex Gold Card members earn 2X Membership Rewards points on prepaid bookings
  • Amex Platinum Gold Card members earn 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid bookings
  • Easily redeem your points to reserve prepaid bookings

While standard Amex Travel hotel bookings are available to anyone, The Hotel Collection is only available to cardholders with one of the following cards:

Some potential downsides of The Hotel Collection are that you’ll need to book prepaid rates to get the benefits, you won’t earn hotel loyalty benefits, and there’s a two-night minimum stay policy. On the plus side, you can receive benefits for up to three rooms, which is excellent if you’re traveling with a family or as part of a group.

Option #3: Fine Hotels & Resorts program

By far my favorite part of Amex Travel is the Fine Hotels & Resorts program. While there’s some overlap between this program and The Hotel Collection, the Fine Hotels & Resorts program is designed more for the leisure travel crowd who want higher-end properties and other luxury benefits.

when it makes sense to use amex travel fine hotels resorts benefits
Amex Travel Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits

Here are the standout perks:

  • Noon check-in (based on availability)
  • Room upgrades (based on availability)
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Guaranteed 4 pm late check-out
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Unique amenity (usually $100 spa or dining credit)
  • You can enjoy these perks and earn points/stay credits from hotel loyalty programs (just be sure to add your loyalty number to the reservation)

The Fine Hotels & Resorts program is limited to cardholders who have one of the following cards:

With Fine Hotels & Resorts, you don’t have to prepay to receive the benefits, and I've found the pricing is almost always identical to the rates when booking directly with the hotel (so why not take advantage of all the extra perks?). Cardholders can now also book stays through Fine Hotels & Resorts using Membership Rewards. It may not be the best value (one cent per point redemption) or use of points, but it’s an option to keep in mind.

Using Amex Travel for rental cars

Searching for a rental car via Amex Travel is as simple as entering an airport, city, or nearby address and then seeing a handful of options instantly come up in the search results.

This can be especially helpful when trying to find the closest car rental in a remote location. I’ve found these rates to be similar and sometimes even a buck or two lower than booking directly with the car rental company.

Using Amex Travel for cruises

When you search for a cruise on Amex Travel, the results will be based on the lowest available rate, and if you hover your mouse over the rate, it will show all available cabin types with prices (cruises can be complex with so many cabin options). I’ve found the rates to be nearly identical when booking with Amex Travel as they are when booking directly.

By booking a cruise through Amex Travel, you’ll also receive a special onboard amenity, higher onboard credits, or premium champagne. It’s worth nothing this program is more restricted than Fine Hotels & Resorts and is only available on specific cruises.

5 times it makes sense to use Amex Travel

1. You value customer service above price

Amex Travel has a track record of providing exemplary customer service. This is especially true if problems arise when you’re traveling. Having 24/7 access to a knowledgeable representative for assistance can give you peace of mind. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for,” and in my experience, that’s been true with American Express.

2. You’ll earn bonus rewards as an American Express cardholder

American Express cardholders can enjoy all that Amex Travel has to offer without paying any of the fees for using its services. Not only can you snag some serious deals this way, but you can also earn rewards on every dollar spent. It’s a great way to pad your rewards account for your next trip.

3. You’re booking a cruise and want extra onboard perks

If you’re looking into a cruise, doing so through Amex Travel can secure extra perks for when you’re ready to set sail. Be sure to check on the cruise special offers page during your search.

4. You’re looking for luxury hotel perks and service

If your travel style appreciates the finer things, such as complimentary made-fresh breakfast and room upgrades with a view, the Fine Hotels & Resorts program can help you book hotel stays that are sure to please without paying extra for additional perks and service.

5. Price match

Despite its limitations, one great thing when booking a prepaid hotel room is the price-match guarantee. If your reservation details are found at a lower price, Amex Travel will match the price as long as the details line up.

Commonly asked questions about Amex Travel

Do I need an American Express card to use Amex Travel services?

You don’t have to have an American Express card to use Amex Travel services. But you will need an American Express card and a bank of Membership Rewards points if you want to pay for your travel using points. If you have an American Express card, you may also be able to take advantage of additional deals and earn more points when making a reservation through the site.

Does American Express Travel have offices?

American Express Travel used to have physical locations where you could visit and make your travel arrangements. The last of these offices closed in 2013, but since then Amex has built partnerships with travel agencies and agents to create a Travel Insiders program. Now, if you’re looking for an office to visit, you can use the Travel Services Locator tool on their website and find a partner agency to help with your trip planning.

What is the phone number for American Express Travel?

To book or change a reservation with American Express Travel, call 1-800-297-2977.

Does Amex travel charge a fee to book a flight?

American Express Travel does add fees if you book a flight using its services. If you book through the website, you can expect an additional $6.99 for each domestic ticket and $10.99 for each international ticket. If you make a flight or complete trip reservation by phone, you may be charged a $39 fee per ticket or transaction. Also, if you need to change your flight, Amex may also add a $39 fee to re-issue each ticket. This is in addition to any change fees the airline might charge.

Is Amex travel more expensive?

It’s hard to give a yes or no answer to this question, as rates and deals vary from day-to-day and from one travel booking website to the next. It’s always smart to first shop around to find the range of prices for your travel plans, and then make decisions about what to book.

For American Express cardholders, the company offers a guarantee for the lowest price on prepaid hotel reservations. To get this, you have to file a claim with information showing a lower price for the exact dates and other specifications. If approved, you’ll get a credit for the difference between what you paid and the lower price.


Is Amex Travel worth it?

As someone who has searched high and low on every online booking site for many trips, I can confidently say Amex Travel is worth it in many instances — especially if you’re an Amex cardholder.

If you don’t currently have an Amex card, I’d encourage you to compare rates on other booking sites before settling on booking through Amex Travel. While the perks and service are incredible, there are instances where it may not provide the best value or rate options, meaning you could pay less by booking your travels through a different site. Still, if you’re looking to book a trip with a premium support helpline, this service could be a good choice for you.

If you travel often, it may be worth applying for an American Express card so that you can book through Amex Travel. Further, these are some of the best travel credit cards for earning rewards. There are several options, including some with no foreign transaction fees and no annual fees. That way, you can get the Membership Rewards points from your regular spending and use them to save on your travel purchases.

Best Luxury Travel Benefits

Benefits

  • 75,000 Membership Rewards point welcome offer
  • 10X points on purchases at U.S. gas stations and supermarkets
  • 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
  • $15 in free U.S. Uber rides each month ($20 in December)
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Terms apply