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- The American Express travel portal (AmexTravel.com) lets individuals book airfare, hotel stays, cruises and more with cash or points.
- In order to book travel with rewards through this portal, you need an American Express credit card that earns Amex Membership Rewards points.
- While booking through the portal can make sense, there are scenarios where you can save points by transferring them to Amex airline and hotel partners instead.
- Make sure to familiarize yourself with Amex transfer partners so you can make an informed decision on the best ways to use your rewards.
Most popular travel credit cards let you redeem your points in more than one way, including the option to use points to book travel through a portal.
This is true of Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Freedom Flex℠*, both of which let you book travel directly through the Chase travel portal. But it’s also true for Citi credit cards like the Citi Prestige® Card*, which lets you book airfare, hotels and more through the Citi ThankYou travel portal.
American Express also makes it possible for cardholders to book travel through its own portal, found at AmexTravel.com. This portal works similarly to most of the other travel booking portals you can find online, with the exception that you can shop with American Express Membership Rewards points, cash or a combination of the two.
To book travel with points through AmexTravel.com, all you need is a credit card that earns points in the American Express Membership Rewards program. That said, anyone can book travel through this portal and pay with another form of payment, such as a credit card.
What are the benefits of booking through AmexTravel.com?
AmexTravel.com is a third-party booking site that works similarly to competitors like Expedia.com or Orbitz.com. You can use it to compare prices for airfare, hotels and more across the web, just like you would with another booking site.
But there are more benefits to using this portal if you’re an American Express cardholder. If you have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, for example, you can get 35 percent of your points back (up to 1,000,000 points per calendar year) when you use rewards to book first or business class tickets or any flight with your selected airline.
Also, note that both the business version and The Platinum Card® from American Express for consumers let you earn 5X points when you purchase prepaid flights or prepaid hotels through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 in airfare spending with the consumer card). Meanwhile, the popular American Express® Gold Card lets you earn 3X points on flights booked through AmexTravel.com.
Beyond specific cardholder 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 portal, such as onboard credits or free specialty 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 travel is a lot like using any other travel booking site. AmexTravel.com is set up to make it easy to search for travel and compare multiple flight and hotel options in one place.
Besides flights, hotels and cruises, you can also use AmexTravel.com to book rental cars and vacation packages. All you have to do is head to AmexTravel.com and enter some basic details on the travel you want to book. From there, you’ll be shown a selection you can choose from.
Cash vs. points
When using the Amex travel portal to pay for hotels, flights and other bookings, you have the option to pay with points, cash or a combination of the two.
To fully or partially pay with points, all you have to do is head to the American Express website and log in to your account. Once you find the travel you want and prepare to book, you can select the option to “Use only points” or to “Use points + card.” You can also pay for travel through AmexTravel.com with only your credit card as payment or use the Amex “Plan it” feature for your booking.
Once you book and choose how you want to pay, your credit card will be charged the full dollar amount of your booking. A credit for any points you used, however, will be applied to your account within 48 hours, per American Express.
Note that you’ll need at least 5,000 Membership Rewards points to pay with points. This rule makes it a little more difficult to use up any leftover points you might have from other bookings. However, it shouldn’t be too hard to reach the 5,000 point threshold for travel if you have an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points.
When it comes to booking flights, there are a few interesting details to note. If you have an Amex card that offers access to Centurion Lounges or Delta Sky Clubs, for example, you’ll see a note showing qualification for lounge access on flights that apply. You can use Amex points to book a business or first class flight or to upgrade your flight.
You also have the option to transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to Amex airline and hotel partners. Using the American Express travel portal may or may not be a better deal, but you do get the benefit of booking any travel you want without having to worry about award availability.
Booking flights through Amex
Before you book flights through AmexTravel.com with your points, find out if you could get a better deal by transferring your rewards to an Amex airline partner instead. Fortunately, you can easily find this out by comparing award flights with your favorite airline to what the cost would be for airfare through AmexTravel.com.
Here’s an example of how this could work. Let’s say you want to fly from Indianapolis, Indiana to Miami, Florida on Delta Air Lines on a specific travel date in February of 2024. In that case, you could easily see how many miles you would need on the Delta website by searching for the travel you want and clicking on the button that says “Shop with Miles.”
As you can see, the flight in question starts at 11,500 miles plus $6 in basic economy and 14,500 miles plus $6 in main cabin economy through the Delta website.
Interestingly, whether or not you have a Delta credit card can also come into play here. This is due to the fact that Delta credit cards offer a feature called “TakeOff 15” that automatically grants cardholders 15 percent off flights they book with miles. If you were a Delta credit card customer, this flight would cost you 9,700 miles in basic economy or 12,300 miles in main cabin economy instead.
When you compare this cost to what you would pay for the same flight through AmexTravel.com, it’s easy to see where transferring your Amex points to Delta makes more sense even if you don’t have a Delta credit card. For the same flight on the same travel date, AmexTravel.com wants 18,320 miles.
In the meantime, Amex lets you transfer points to Delta Air Lines at a ratio of 1,000:1,000 in increments of 1,000. This means you would transfer as little as 10,000 Amex points to your Delta SkyMiles account (as a Delta card customer) and make this booking.
This is just one example of how transferring your Amex points to a partner can make more sense than booking a flight through AmexTravel.com. That said, you’ll want to run the numbers with each booking you make before deciding, as there may be scenarios where booking through Amex is a considerably better deal — and you won’t know unless you do the research upfront.
It can also help to familiarize yourself with Amex transfer partners ahead of time so you know what your options are.
Booking hotels through Amex
Using AmexTravel.com to book a hotel or resort stay works similarly, requiring you to enter your travel information to identify properties in the destinations you plan to visit. Once again, you can pay for your booking with points, cash or a combination of the two. You’ll need to have at least 5,000 Membership Rewards points in your account in order to pay with points.
Again, you’ll want to compare your options when deciding whether to book hotels with hotel loyalty points or directly through Amex. That’s because, in addition to the many frequent flyer programs Amex partners with, the program lets you transfer Amex points to the Choice Privileges program, Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.
Consider the following example: Let’s say you’re planning a trip to Paris, France, and that you want to splurge with Amex points for a stay at the Westin Paris – Vendôme in May of 2024. If you do a quick search on the Marriott Bonvoy website, you can see that free night awards start at 88,000 points per night over your travel dates, and that the cash rate works out to 527 euros per night (around $570 USD, as of this writing).
When you search for the same hotel through AmexTravel.com, however, you can see that a free night award will set you back 75,160 points.
Since Amex points transfer to Marriott Bonvoy at a ratio of 1,000:1,000, this is a scenario where you’re better off using your Amex points to book this hotel directly through the portal. In fact, doing so will save you more than 12,000 points per night.
Pay It Plan It
You can now pay for airline tickets with Pay It Plan It. Amex’s Pay It Plan It 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 down balances with predictable, monthly payments.
The payment option is only for airline tickets booked through the American Express travel website. At checkout, cardholders are presented with up to three different plans to pay for any flight purchase of $100 or more. Note that the installment payment plan doesn’t have any interest associated with it, but there is a fixed monthly fee based on the card’s APR.
International Airline Program
The business and personal Platinum cards let you access a newer Amex program for frequent flyers known as the International Airline Program. This program was created to increase access to lower fares on 24 participating airlines, but it’s only good for international premium class tickets.
To search for fares that qualify, log in to your personal or business Platinum account. From there, use AmexTravel.com to search for First Class, Business Class or Premium Economy to an international destination. At that point, you may see some flight options that show an International Airline Program banner.
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program
Note that select premium American Express credit cards, like the Business Platinum Card from American Express and the Platinum Card from American Express, let you access an additional hotel program known as American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts.
This program lets cardholders book stays at over 1,300 luxury hotels in the world with added benefits worth up to $550 per stay. Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts perks can include:
- Daily breakfast for two people
- 4 p.m. late checkout
- Complimentary internet access
- Noon check-in, based on availability
- Room upgrades based on availability
- Unique resort amenity worth up to $100
The Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program is available only for eligible premium cardholders. Using this program also typically means going without elite hotel benefits or points for paid stays.
Does American Express cover trip cancellations?
Individual airlines and hotels have their own policies that cover cancellations. AmexTravel.com, however, does offer the option to view all your booked travel and cancel or rebook a flight with ease using your My Trips page. You will still be subject to any change or cancellation fees imposed by the carrier if you’re not covered by a flexible policy or existing waiver.
Some American Express credit cards offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance, which could apply in some situations where you have to cancel or rebook your plans.
Popular cards that offer this benefit include the Business Platinum Card and the Platinum Card, as well as co-branded airline and hotel credit cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.
Is booking through AmexTravel.com worth it?
Only you can decide which travel booking option works best for your needs. Regardless of the value of rewards earned, some travelers like being able to book directly through a portal that offers multiple options.
AmexTravel.com also gives customers the benefit of booking any travel available on the portal without having to find award space on a flight or search for available award nights in high-demand hotels. American Express Membership Rewards points, however, are usually worth more if you transfer them to Amex transfer partners, particularly airlines.
Either way, it makes sense to compare all your options before you book travel through AmexTravel.com. See if a transfer 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 award availability or you find a better deal.
Learn more: Check out Bankrate’s travel toolkit for tips and tricks on how to maximize travel with a credit card.
*The information about the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Citi Prestige® Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.