A guide to traveling with American Express

American Express cardholders enjoy exclusive savings and travel perks when booking travel on the American Express Travel Portal. It’s similar to other travel booking websites, and you don’t need to be an American Express cardholder to compare rates and book travel with American Express Travel.

American Express travel rewards vary by membership

American Express Travel Rewards Points and travel-related benefits are available on every membership plan. Most travel experts agree that The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express offer the best overall travel benefits and savings.

“The Amex Platinum Card is the best membership choice for frequent travelers,” says Donna Winner, an American Express Travel Insider and family travel specialist with Avenue Travel American Express. “Earning 5x rewards points on airline tickets and prepaid hotel bookings purchased through American Express Travel is just one of the many benefits that Amex Platinum cardholders enjoy.” 

“Other Platinum perks include airport lounge access, exclusive American Express Travel Hotel Collection access, and extra shipboard credit onboard eligible cruise lines,” continues Winner. “Plus, many cruises and prepaid travel packages offer 2x rewards points when booked through American Express Travel.”

Lynda Train, an American Express Travel Insider with Altour agrees, “the travel rewards value of Amex Platinum cards far outweigh the Gold and Green cards,” says Train. “The vast majority of my clients book travel on Amex Platinum cards to maximize their 5x point rewards, pay for travel using points and enjoy free services, travel credits and upgrades.” 

“However, Gold and Green card members also accumulate added rewards points when booking travel,” adds Train. “Plus, they can easily redeem rewards points when booking travel on their own using the American Express Travel Portal, or through the portal’s Travel Insiders pros.”Clearly, American Express Platinum cards rank among the best travel credit cards for frequent travelers. But no matter your cardmember level, the American Express Travel Portal helps you get the most bang for your travel buck.

Clearly, American Express Platinum cards rank among the best travel credit cards for frequent travelers. But no matter your cardmember level, the American Express Travel Portal helps you get the most bang for your travel buck.

The American Express Travel portal maximizes member perks

Anyone can use the American Express Travel portal to compare rates for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises and more. However, if you have an American Express credit card, you can qualify for better fares, multiply your rewards benefits and earn added perks on all types of travel. 

“Unlike many travel credit cards and airline miles programs, American Express cardholders benefit from zero blackout dates,” says Train. “You enjoy total booking freedom when it comes to dates and times, plus your points can be applied to all or just part of a fare or rate.”

Here’s a quick American Express travel card guide to help you navigate the top benefits of popular Amex credit cards:

Top travel benefits of American Express Platinum credit cards

Platinum American Express card members earn the highest rewards — 5x points on most travel purchases — including airline tickets, hotel stays and car rentals booked through American Express Travel. There are no blackout dates and Platinum cardholders also avoid the standard booking fees of $6.99 on domestic and $10.99 on international flights. 

Platinum members can also book stays at over 1000 premium properties through the exclusive Fine Hotels and Resorts program. Added perks here include free breakfast for two and other complementary services, along with credits toward property amenities and free room upgrades when available.

Top travel benefits of American Express Gold credit cards

Gold Amex cardholders earn 3x rewards points on airline travel booked through American Express Travel, plus enjoy total booking freedom with no blackout dates. American Express Gold membership also qualifies you for perks through The Hotel Collection on American Express Travel. This includes a $100 credit toward qualifying services as well as free room upgrades based on availability.

Top travel benefits of American Express Green credit cards

The “starter” American Express Green Card rewards you with 3x membership rewards points when you book travel, including airline flights and hotel stays, using American Express Travel. Again, there are no blackout dates for booking any type of travel. 

This membership also pays 3x rewards points on taxis, transit and ridesharing services. If you use these services regularly, you can quickly stack up points to use towards travel.

Amex cardholders also save on travel bundles, vacation packages and cruises

American Express Travel benefits extend to bundled travel deals, vacation packages and cruises as well. 

“The highest overall points redemption value is airline tickets,” says Winner, “but, you can sometimes save even more by purchasing a prepaid airfare and hotel bundle, which discounts both. Plus vacation, tour and cruise packages offer varying savings.”

“However, points redemption values vary on bundled and package deals,” adds Winner. “Whether this is the best value truly depends on how many points you have.” 

“Amex cardmembers also qualify for savings and value-added shipboard credits on several popular and luxury cruise lines,” says Train. “Higher-level Platinum and Centurion card memberships deliver the most perks for booking cruises and vacation packages with American Express Travel, but other membership levels can offer savings and various credits, too.”

Navigating points redemption for the best deals is where the American Express Travel Insiders program comes in very handy. Its seasoned travel professionals help you maximize both your points redemption toward travel and your points accumulation on your travel purchases. But that’s not all.

Travel Insiders also deliver a wealth of local insight and create handcrafted itineraries that make the most of your stay in locations across the globe. Best of all, it’s a free service for anyone booking through the American Express Travel Portal.

“Amex rewards programs do change over time and new travel-related benefits are constantly being added,” says Train. “Travel Insiders stay on top of these changes to benefit our clients.”

“It’s also smart to review your Amex membership perks regularly,” adds Train. “This way, you can make sure your day-to-day card usage maximizes your travel points potential.”

Rewards extend to brand-specific travel credit cards

Other types of specialty and brand-specific Amex cards offer travel rewards as well. Top options here include the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Card, and the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, to name a few.

If you tend to book travel with a specific airline or hotel brand, it can be worthwhile to check out the benefits of brand-specific Amex cards. 

Services available to anyone using American Express Travel 

Booking trips on the American Express Travel Portal is easy and you don’t need to be an American Express cardholder to book travel using this convenient website. Shopping for travel is nearly identical to other top travel websites like Expedia, Booking and Kayak. You simply navigate to the American Express Travel website and begin your search for whatever you need.

You can compare and book individual flights, hotel stays and car rentals, or combine one or more into economical bundle deals. Amex cardholders and non-cardholders alike can find an array of worldwide vacation packages and cruises on American Express Travel, too. If you’re exploring vacation options, visit Get Inspired to uncover all sorts of featured trips and last-minute deals to destinations across the globe.

Anyone booking trips through American Express Travel also enjoys worldwide 24/7 access to stellar personalized customer service. This includes all Amex cardholders and others purchasing travel on the Amex Travel Portal. If you need help with booking, assistance while traveling, of information about a specific destination, American Express’s trained travel pros and location-specific Travel Insiders are standing by, ready to help. 

However, booking travel by phone can add fees, but if you need assistance after booking or while traveling, American Express Travel customer service agents are ready to help. In contrast, contacting Travel Insiders for trip planning and custom itineraries costs you nothing. These American Express Travel network pros earn commissions through bookings, not from upfront fees.

Drawbacks of using the American Express Travel Portal

In a direct comparison of flight fees and hotel rates, the American Express Travel Portal is not considered a low-price leader. Where it truly shines is by letting you easily apply rewards points to offset travel costs, earn extra rewards for booking on American Express Travel, and tap discounted travel packages and value-added perks like free amenities and upgrades. 

“You also have to watch out for added fees and taxes that might not appear until the checkout screen,” say both Train and Winner. “Be sure you click all the way through to the checkout screen when comparing fees,” adds Winner. “Taxes and fees are not included in cost totals until the very last step on the American Express Travel Portal.” 

Also, though you have access to 24/7 support for assistance with trip issues post-booking, an agent can’t walk you through the process online. If you choose to call and talk to an agent, American Express tacks on added phone booking fees. 

If you need booking assistance, you can sidestep the phone fees by working with the portal’s Travel Insiders, who are independent agents within the American Express travel network.

Krista Fabregas

Contributing Writer

Krista Fabregas is an entrepreneur sharing more than 20 years of hands-on startup and small business experience with those looking to grow online businesses. Her expertise covers every facet of ecommerce and multichannel sales, as well as online lead generation, affiliate income, content marketing, and real estate. Krista has a bachelor’s degree in English and economics from The University of Texas at Austin, is a licensed real estate agent, and held senior positions at NASA, a Fortune 100 company, and several startups. She has been featured in Forbes, NBC, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and other top publications.