American Express travel portal guide

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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®, 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®, which lets you book airfare, hotels and more through the Citi ThankYou travel portal.

American Express is yet another program that makes it possible for cardholders to book travel through its own portal, known as AmexTravel.com. To book travel with points through AmexTravel.com, you only need to have 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 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. With that in mind, you can use this portal 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 500,000 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 pay for prepaid flights or hotels through AmexTravel.com. Meanwhile, the popular American Express® Gold Card lets you earn 3x points on prepaid 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 searching for travel easy, as well as comparing 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 need to make, 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 into 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.” Once you book and choose how you want to pay, your credit card will be charged the full dollar amount of your booking. However, a credit for any points you used will be applied to your account within 48 hours, per American Express.

One detail to note is the fact that you do 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, but it shouldn’t be too hard to reach the 5,000 point threshold for travel if you have an American Express credit card that earns Membership Rewards points.

When it comes to booking flights, there are a few interesting details to note. If you have an American Express credit 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 American Express Membership Rewards points to book a Business or First Class flight or to upgrade your flight.

When it comes to flights and hotels, don’t forget that you also have the option to transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to Amex airline and hotel partners if you prefer. 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.

International Airline Program

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and The Platinum Card® from American Express lets 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 20 participating airlines, but it’s only good for international premium class tickets.

To search for fares that qualify, all you have to do is have a personal or business Platinum card and log into your account. From there, you only need to use AmexTravel.com to search for premium economy, business class or first class flights to any international destination.

Use the booking tool to search for first class, business class, or premium economy to an international destination. At that point, you may see some flight options to show an International Airline Program banner.

Booking 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 destinations you want to visit. Once again, you can pay for your booking with points, cash or a combination of the two. You do need to have at least 5,000 Membership Rewards points in your account in order to pay with points.

While you get 1 cent per point in value when you use American Express Membership Rewards points to book flights, you only get around .07 cents per point when you book hotels through the portal. Also be aware that, just like with any other travel booking site, booking a hotel through AmexTravel.com usually means forgoing hotel loyalty points or elite night credits.

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 1,000 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
  • 4:00 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 only available for eligible premium cardholders. Using this program also typically means going without elite hotel benefits or points for paid stays.

Is booking through AmexTravel.com worth it?

When it comes to the best way to book travel, only you can decide which option works best for your needs. Regardless of the value of rewards earned, some travelers like being able to book travel directly through a portal that offers multiple options. As we mentioned already, AmexTravel.com gives customers the benefit of booking any travel available on the portal without having to find award space on a flight or having to search for available award nights in high-demand hotels.

However, American Express Membership Rewards points are usually worth more if you transfer them to Amex transfer partners, and particularly airlines.

Either way, it can make 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.

Does American Express cover trip cancellations?

Individual airlines and hotels have their own policies that cover cancellations. However, AmexTravel.com does offer the option to see 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 do offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance that could apply in some situations where you have to cancel or rebook your plans. Cards that offer this benefit include The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and The Platinum Card® from American Express as well as several co-branded airline and hotel credit cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card and the Delta Skymiles®  Reserve American Express Card.