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American Express travel guide: Booking flights, hotels and vacations

Booking directly with the issuer comes with plenty of perks for Amex cardholders

Summary

How to book your next vacation with American Express.

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If you are an American Express cardholder looking to book your next vacation, you’ll definitely want to consider booking through American Express Travel. On top of the ability to pay with Membership Rewards points, you’ll unlock exclusive deals on flights, hotel stays, cruises and car rentals.

The American Express travel portal is available to everyone but is particularly valuable for American Express Membership Rewards cardholders. This is especially true for The Platinum Card® from American Express users, who are awarded additional perks such as dining credits, room upgrades and discounted vacation packages on hundreds of travel purchases.

What is American Express Travel?

American Express Travel is a booking site for flights, hotels, cars cruises and vacation packages provided by American Express. In addition to offering great deals on travel purchases, the site includes extra rewards for Amex cardholders and special deals on Delta Air Lines flights.

How to book with American Express Travel

When you land on the homepage for American Express Travel, it will look like most third-party travel booking sites. You can easily toggle between types of travel purchases and filter results based on travel dates and destinations.

Amex Travel home page

With most purchases on the American Express Travel portal, you have the option to pay partially or entirely with Membership Rewards points.

Booking flights

Booking a flight on American Express Travel works like most other third-party booking sites. You simply select your departure and arrival destination, travel dates and number of travelers to filter available flights. After searching for your trip, the first result is always a special deal from Delta Air Lines, with other options sorted by price underneath.

Amex Travel flight search

When you search for a flight in American Express Travel, the price of the trip will be displayed in dollars. However, you can log into your Membership Rewards account and select “Use only points” or “Use points + card” at checkout to redeem rewards for the cost. You’ll be charged for the trip on your card and then get a statement credit offsetting the cost of your rewards redemption within 48 hours.

You can also use the new “Plan It” feature to pay for your airfare purchase in installments with a fixed fee. The option is available during the checkout, and you can be offered up to three duration options, depending on the purchase amount and other factors, such as your account history, creditworthiness and more. Note that you can’t pay with points when using “Plan It” on AmexTravel.com. However, you can go with the “Use points + card” option and use “Plan It” on the credit card charge in your Amex app.

Booking hotels

One huge benefit that comes with booking hotels through American Express Travel is the lowest rate guarantee. If you can find the same room for a lower nightly rate before your stay, American Express will refund you the difference (this excludes special offers and discounts like AAA). This takes the pressure off of hunting for the best deal and makes it easier than ever to book your next hotel stay.

The American Express Travel search page when booking hotels works similarly to booking flights, though results are sorted by recommended properties by default.

Amex Travel hotel search

For non-cardholders and most American Express cardholders, booking a hotel is as simple as following the prompts and entering your personal information. However, the American Express® Gold Card, Platinum Card and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders have a few other options.

American Express Travel also offers access to two elite hotel collections – Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection. With Fine Hotels & Resorts, American Express Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders who pay for their stay in full with their card enjoy additional benefits, including room upgrades, daily complimentary breakfast for two, free Wi-Fi and more.

The Hotel Collection offers similar perks and is available to a few more cardholders. American Express Gold, Gold Business, Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders who book a stay of two nights or more on their card unlock benefits such as room upgrades (upon availability) and a $100 credit for dining or spa services.  (See our Luxury hotel collections guide for more information on these two programs.)

Booking cruises

To book a cruise on American Express Travel, simply filter search results by destination, cruise line, month and length of trip. You can then toggle between special offers and all available trips.

Amex Travel cruise search

If you are a Platinum or Platinum Business cardholder, you also have access to the Cruises Privileges Program. When you book a cruise of five nights or more, you’ll earn a stateroom credit between $100-$300 as well as an exclusive amenity based on the cruise line. You’ll just have to pay in full for an eligible trip with your Platinum card.

Booking travel packages

American Express Travel also lets users book package deals on flights and hotels. You search like any other travel purchase but can unlock special deals and savings.

Take, for example, this package for a trip to Los Angeles. It includes two round-trip flights from New York and a six-night stay at the Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles Westlake.

Amex Travel Four Points booking

 

When you book the flight alone, a round-trip ticket comes out to close to around $500 per traveler.

Amex Travel flight from NYC to LAX

The same room at the Four Points (one king bed) is listed at around $170 per night when booked on its own.

Amex Travel Four Points stay

Booking the flight and hotel for the same trip separately nets a total cost of $2,158.23. That means booking a travel package saves you a little more than $50. This might not seem like a lot, but it is still savings you can apply toward food and other expenses at your destination. Plus, booking takes less time when it is done together.

Booking rental cars

To help you book your whole trip on one site, American Express Travel also includes a rental car booking service. You can search available cars near the airport at your destination or any address. American Express then provides a quick breakdown of available rates along with your search results.

Amex Travel rental cars

No matter what kind of travel purchase you are booking, the American Express travel portal is a user-friendly option that makes it easy to find a great deal on your next vacation.

Which Amex card should you book with?

When you make a travel purchase through American Express Travel, American Express cardholders who earn Membership Rewards get at least one extra point per dollar. But some cards earn an even better rate.

 CardRewards rate
American Express Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants and on Uber Eats purchases
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1 point)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • Terms apply
Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • 10 points per dollar on eligible purchases at restaurants and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership
  • 5 points per dollar on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year)
  • 2 points per dollar on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
  • Terms apply
Business Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

  • 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com
  • 1.5 points per dollar on qualifying purchases of $5,000 or more
  • 1 point per dollar general purchases
  • Terms apply
Business Green Rewards Card

Business Green Rewards Card from American Express

  • 2 points per dollar on eligible American Express travel purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases

Plus, for American Express Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders, additional benefits such as dining credits, late checkout and free Wi-Fi can add significant value to qualifying stays.

Drawbacks to booking with American Express Travel

Despite a simple booking process and extra perks for American Express cardholders, there are a few downsides to booking with American Express Travel.

Additional fees

On top of any airline fees, flights booked through American Express Travel incur a $6.99 fee on domestic flights and a $10.99 fee on international flights.

No hotel elite benefits

If you are part of a hotel loyalty program, you won’t be able to enjoy elite benefits such as complimentary breakfast or late checkout when booking through American Express Travel since it is a third-party booking site. One exception to this is a hotel stay booked through the Fine Hotel & Resorts Collection (these stays still earn benefits), but this option is only available to American Express Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders.

Is booking with American Express Travel worth it?

There are several factors to consider when deciding if booking through the American Express travel portal is right for you, including the value of the points you can earn and the price of different purchases compared to other booking sites.

Insider fares

American Express Travel offers special deals on flights called insider fares, which are available to American Express cardholders with enough Membership Rewards points to cover the entire cost of the flight. These offers, primarily on Delta flights, tend to be the lowest available price.

Special deals with Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is a partner of American Express and therefore offers all sorts of special promotions on American Express Travel. In addition to insider fares, Delta offers great rates on flights for any user. Plus, Delta SkyMiles members will still earn miles on flights booked through the platform.

Rates compared to other booking sites

Overall, American Express Travel seems to advertise competitive rates to other travel booking sites on both hotel and flight purchases.

For example, a round-trip flight from JFK to LAX on American Airlines resulted in the following prices when booked through American Express Travel, directly on the American Airlines website and through Priceline.

Amex TravelAmerican Airlines
Priceline
$459
$514
$451

A six-night stay at The W Hollywood in Los Angeles also turned up positive results for American Express when compared to popular budget booking sites Hotels.com and Expedia.

Amex Travel
Hotels.com
Expedia
Spectacular room (2 Queen beds)
$323
$343
$343
Wonderful room (2 Queen beds)
$324
$325
$325
Fabulous room (2 Queen beds, City View)
$340
$361
$361
Marvelous Suite (1 King bed)
$434
$460
$460

Even budget-conscious travelers can find great deals, as a six-night stay at the moderately priced Best Western Plus Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles includes the same rates on all three sites.

Amex Travel
Hotels.com
Expedia
Suite, 2 Queen beds, nonsmoking
$178
$178
$178
Suite, 1 King bed, nonsmoking
$195
$196
$196
Suite, 1 Queen bed, nonsmoking
$156
$156
$156

Use points to pay for trips

When you book through American Express Travel, you have the option of paying partially or entirely with Membership Rewards points. Plus, travel purchases through the Amex travel portal eke the most value out of each point.

It is clear that booking through American Express Travel comes with great benefits, but you’ll have to consider the cost of additional fees and the value of your hotel elite status benefits before deciding if it is right for you.

Tips for maximizing American Express Travel

  • Pay with your American Express rewards card to earn more points on travel purchases.
  • Save up enough Membership Rewards points to cover your whole trip to unlock insider fares.
  • Compare rates on other travel sites to ensure you are getting the best deal.
  • Monitor the rate of your hotel stay up until your trip to take advantage of lowest fare guarantee.
  • Book travel packages for bigger discounts.

Bottom line

Booking through American Express Travel is a great option – not only if you want to pay with Membership Rewards points, but also if you want to score great deals on your next trip.

See related: American Express Rewards guide: The best ways to earn and use Membership Rewards points

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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