This is true for Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards such as Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Freedom Flex℠, both of which allow you to book travel directly through the Chase travel portal. But it also applies to Citi credit cards like the Citi Prestige® Card, which lets you book airline tickets, hotels, and more through the Citi ThankYou travel portal.
American Express is another program that allows cardholders to book travel through its own portal, known as AmexTravel.com. To book travel with points through AmexTravel.com, you only need a credit card that earns points in the American Express Membership Rewards program. However, anyone can book travel through this portal and pay with another payment method, such as credit card.
What are the advantages of booking through AmexTravel.com?
AmexTravel.com is a third party booking site that works similarly to competitors like ForexTravel or Orbitz.com. You can use it to compare prices for airline tickets, hotels, and more across the web, just as you would with another booking site.
But there are more benefits to using this portal if you are an American Express card holder. If you have an American Express Business Platinum Card, for example, you can redeem 35 percent of your points (up to 500,000 points in a calendar year) when you use rewards to book tickets for First Class, Business Class, or any flight with your choice of airline.
Also note that both the Business Edition and the Platinum Card for American Express customers allow you to earn 5 times the points when purchasing prepaid flights or prepaid hotels through American Express Travel. Meanwhile, the popular American Express® Gold Card lets you earn 3X the points on prepaid flights booked through AmexTravel.com.
In addition to cardholder specific benefits, AmexTravel.com makes it easy to compare flight and hotel options. You may also find offers that include additional benefits when you book a cruise through the gate, such as onboard credits or free special meals.
How to use the Amex travel portal to book flights and hotels
Using the Amex travel portal to book flights, hotels, cruises and other excursions is very similar to using any other travel booking site. AmexTravel.com is set up to make your travel search easy, as well as compare multiple flight and hotel options in one place.
Besides flights, hotels, and cruises, you can also use AmexTravel.com to book car rentals and vacation packages. All you have to do is head over to AmexTravel.com and enter some basic details about the travel you want to book. From there, you will be presented with a selection that you can choose from.
Cash for points
When you use the Amex travel gateway to pay for hotels, flights, and other reservations, you have the option to pay with points, cash, or a combination of the two.
To pay in whole or in part with points, all you have to do is head over to the American Express website and log into your account. Once you have found the travel you want and are ready to book, you can select the ‘Use points only’ or ‘Use points + card’ option. Once you’ve made a reservation and chosen how you want to pay, the full dollar amount will be charged to your credit card for your reservation. However, a credit for any points you’ve used will be applied to your account within 48 hours, per American Express.
Note that you will need a minimum of 5,000 Membership Rewards points to pay with points. This rule makes it a little more difficult to use up any remaining points you may have from other bookings. However, it shouldn’t be too difficult to hit the 5,000 points limit for travel if you have an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points.
When it comes to booking flights, there are some interesting details to note. If you have an Amex card that gives access to Centurion Lounges or Delta Sky Clubs, for example, you’ll see a note showing eligibility for lounge access on flights that apply. You can use your Amex points to book a Business or First Class flight or to upgrade your flight.
You also have the option to transfer American Express Membership Program Points to Amex Airlines and hotel partners. Using the American Express travel portal may be a better deal or not, but you benefit from booking any flight you want without having to worry about reward availability.
Push it and plan it
You can now pay for airline tickets with Pay It Plan It. Amex’s Pay It plan is a flexible payment option that allows cardholders to make payments on large purchases over time. With this option, cardholders can avoid interest charges and pay balances in predictable monthly payments.
The payment option is only available for airline tickets booked through the American Express travel site. At checkout, cardholders are offered up to three different plans to pay for any flight purchase of $100 or more. Note that the installment payment plan has no interest associated with it, but there is a fixed monthly fee based on the card’s APR.
international flight program
Business cards and personal platinum cards give you access to the latest Amex program for frequent flyers known as the International Airlines Program. This program was created to increase access to discounted fares on 20 participating airlines, but is only good for international premium class tickets.
To search for eligible rates, sign in to your Personal or Business Platinum account. From there, use AmexTravel.com to search for premium economy, business or first class flights to any international destination.
Use the booking tool to search for First Class, Business Class or Premium Economy Class to an international destination. At this point, you may see some flight options that display the international airline program banner.
Reservation of hotels and resorts
Using AmexTravel.com to book a hotel or resort stay works similarly, requiring you to enter some information to find properties in the destinations you want to visit. Again, you can pay for your reservation with points, cash, or a combination of the two. You must have at least 5,000 Membership Rewards points in your account to pay with the points.
While you get 1 cent per point of value when you use American Express Membership Rewards points to book flights, you only get 0.07 cents per point when you book hotels through the portal. Also know that, just as with any other travel booking site, booking a hotel through AmexTravel.com usually means giving up hotel loyalty points or elite night credits.
Note that selecting premium American Express credit cards, such as the American Express Platinum Business Card and the American Express Platinum Card, give you access to an additional hotel program known as the American Express Beautiful Hotels & Resorts.
This program allows cardholders to book stays at more than 1,000 luxury hotels worldwide with additional benefits worth up to $550 per stay. Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts franchises can include:
- Daily breakfast for two
- 4pm late check out
- Free internet connection
- Check-in at noon, subject to availability
- Room upgrades based on availability
- Unique resort amenities worth up to $100
The Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts Program is only available to eligible Premium Cardholders. Using this program also usually means no elite hotel benefits or points for paid stays.
Does American Express cover flight cancellations?
Individual airlines and hotels have their own policies that cover cancellations. However, AmexTravel.com offers an option to view all of your booked flights and easily cancel or rebook a flight using your My Trips page. You will still be subject to any change or cancellation fee charged by the carrier if you are not covered by an existing flexible policy or waiver.
Some American Express credit cards offer flight cancellation and interruption insurance, which may apply in certain situations where you have to cancel or rebook your plans.
Cards that offer this benefit include the Platinum Business Card and the Platinum Card, as well as co-branded airline and hotel credit cards such as the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and the Delta Skymiles® Reserve American Express Card.
Is booking through AmexTravel.com worth it?
You can only select the travel booking option that best suits your needs. Regardless of the value of the rewards earned, some travelers prefer the ability to book directly through a portal that offers multiple options.
AmexTravel.com gives customers the advantage of booking any travel available on the portal without having to find a reward space on a flight or having to search for available reward nights at high-demand hotels. However, American Express Membership Rewards points are usually more valuable if you transfer them to Amex transfer partners, especially airlines.
Either way, it makes sense to compare all of your options before booking travel through AmexTravel.com. See if your transportation partner might let you book the flights you want for fewer miles, but don’t be afraid to use AmexTravel.com if you don’t want to deal with reward availability or if you’ve found a better deal.