Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
The American Express Travel portal is similar to many other online booking sites in that it allows you to purchase flights, hotels and other travel reservations. The main difference is that only those who hold an American Express card can use it.
Certain cards come with additional perks for booking in the portal. For instance, some AmEx cards allow travelers to earn extra points for bookings, receive a 35% points rebate, pay for a portion of the reservation with points, get room upgrades and more. Terms apply.
Here's a look at what the AmEx Travel portal offers and how to use it to maximize your benefits.
Who can use the American Express Travel portal?
American Express Travel flights, hotels and other reservations are available for American Express cardholders. Depending on which American Express card you have, you may earn additional points on your reservation or unlock additional features. Terms apply.
For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders earn 5x points on flights booked directly with an airline or through AmEx Travel and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through AmEx Travel. They also have access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts collection through the travel portal. Additionally, American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders can book room reservations with The Hotel Collection. Terms apply.
Benefits of booking travel on AmEx Travel
Here are eight reasons why booking with AmEx travel could be a good idea.
1. Earn up to 5x points
When you book flight through the AmEx Travel portal, your credit card may earn additional points for the purchase. In addition, prepaid hotel reservations through the AmEx travel portal also earn extra points. These are a few of the cards that offer a bonus when making reservations through AmEx travel:
The Platinum Card® from American Express – 5x points on flights, prepaid hotels and vacation packages, and 2x points on cruises.
American Express® Gold Card – 3x points on flights and 2x points on prepaid hotels, cruises and vacation packages.
American Express® Green Card – 3x points on all travel.
All other Membership Rewards points earning cards - 2x points on flights, prepaid hotels, cruises and vacation packages.
» Learn more: AmEx Membership Rewards: How to earn and use them
2. Pay for reservations using Pay with Points
With American Express Travel, flights, hotels and more can be paid for with points instead of cash. Members can even choose to pay a portion of the trip with points and the rest with cash. Once your reservations have been booked, the full amount of your trip will be charged to your American Express credit card, and then a credit will be posted for the points redeemed within 48 hours.
You must redeem at least 5,000 points in order to use Pay with Points. Points are redeemed at a value of 1 cent per point when booking flights or making Fine Hotels & Resorts reservations. Other eligible travel receives only 0.7 cents per point. NerdWallet values Membership Rewards points at 2.8 cents per point if you take advantage of transferring to and booking through travel partners, so the redemption rates in the travel portal are significantly below our ideal value.
If you need to cancel your reservation, you'll receive a statement credit on your card for the cash equivalent. Members who would rather have the unused Membership Rewards points returned to their accounts must contact American Express customer service at 800-297-3276. Terms apply.
3. Upgrade flights with points
Eligible flights booked with cash can be upgraded using your American Express Membership Rewards points. You'll receive 1 cent per point credit towards the cost when upgrading a flight with points (which is again below our AmEx point valuation).
To upgrade your flight with points, select your airline and provide your reservation details in the AmEx travel portal. You will be notified if your flight is eligible or not. If your flight is eligible, you can submit an offer to the airline for the upgrade. The airline will accept or reject your bid between one and five days of your flight's departure and you'll receive a decision via email.
If your upgrade offer is accepted, the points will be deducted from your account. Your statement will show a charge and a credit for the corresponding points.
» Learn more: You can now use AmEx points to bid on flight upgrades
4. Discounted international flights through AmEx IAP
Platinum cardholders have access to discounted flights through International Airline Program (IAP), which allows members to book first, business and premium economy at a discount on select airlines and routes. Plus, you'll receive 5x Membership Rewards points on the booking when using your The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express to pay for the flight. Terms apply.
There are 25 airlines that participate in this program. You can book refundable and nonrefundable tickets for up to eight passengers through the IAP. Tickets can be paid with your card, points or a combination of the two. You will have to pay a $39 nonrefundable ticketing fee, however the discount received on these tickets should outweigh the fee.
5. Cancel For Any Reason insurance
CFAR is shorthand for an insurance policy that allows you to cancel your trip for any reason whatsoever and receive a refund. In May 2022, AmEx launched its own version of CFAR coverage for airfare booked through the travel portal using an AmEx card.
This feature, called Trip Cancel Guard, will get you up to a 75% reimbursement on nonrefundable airfare costs, provided you cancel at least two calendar days out from your departure. You'll need to purchase Trip Cancel Guard coverage at the point of booking and if you cancel, whether through the airline directly or through AmEx Travel, you can request reimbursement online or over the phone.
6. 35% points rebate withThe Business Platinum Card® from American Express
When The Business Platinum Card® from American Express cardholder book flights using points through the AmEx travel portal, they can receive up to 35% of their points back. The benefit is available on first or business class flights on any airline and all economy flights with their chosen airline. This benefit provides up to 500,000 points back per calendar year.
However, as with all AmEx credits, it's not as straightforward as you may hope. You will have to designate the airline for the 35% rebate and the airline must be the same as the one chosen for the $200 airline incidental credit.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
7. Fine Hotels & Resorts
Fine Hotels & Resorts is a collection of resorts and benefits available only to Platinum Card members. There are over 2,000 properties worldwide that participate in this program. When making reservations with Fine Hotels & Resorts for one night or more, you'll receive the following benefits:
$200 statement credit provided once per year.
Noon check-in (when available).
Room upgrade upon arrival (when available).
Daily breakfast for two.
Guaranteed 4 pm late checkout.
Complimentary in-room WiFi.
Unique property benefit valued at least $100.
These benefits rival those that many travelers receive when booking directly with hotels to obtain elite status perks. Some locations also offer a last-night free benefit, depending upon when you make your reservation. Terms apply.
8. The Hotel Collection
AmEx Gold and Platinum cardholders receive elite status-level perks at more than 600 hotels worldwide. When you stay for two nights or more, you'll receive a $100 resort credit and an upgrade upon arrival (when available). In addition, you can use your AmEx Membership Rewards credit card to book and pay for your reservation entirely or partially with your points.
How to book travel in the portal
While you can book travel over the phone with an agent, it is often quicker and more convenient to make your reservations through the AmEx Travel portal.
Here's how to book travel in the American Express travel portal:
Log in with your username and password.
Select flights, hotels, flight + hotel, cars, or cruises.
Enter your travel dates, cities and other relevant information.
Choose options based on your trip.
Pay with your American Express credit card, points, or a combination.
Is travel insurance included when booking through AmEx Travel?
Since you need an American Express card to make reservations through AmEx travel, you may already hold a card that offers complimentary travel insurance. If you don’t get travel insurance perks through your AmEx card, you can purchase Trip Cancel Guard through when making your booking.
Trip Cancel Guard works similarly to CFAR in that it allows you to cancel your trip for any reason whatsoever and get up to a 75% reimbursement of your travel costs as long as the cancellation is made two full days before your trip.
What is the AmEx Travel cancellation policy?
When you book travel through the American Express travel portal, you may be eligible to cancel your reservation within 24 hours and get a full refund. However, the cancellation policy is determined by the airline.
As such, AmEx instructs travelers to refer to the cancellation policy on the itinerary or reach out to customer service with any questions. Terms apply.
Downsides of booking via AmEx Travel
There are many appealing reasons why travelers want to book reservations with the AmEx travel portal. However, there are some downsides as well. These are some of the most common reasons why you shouldn't:
Low value for your points. Redeeming points through the AmEx travel portal yields a value of 1 cent per point or less. That's at least a 50% reduction compared to our value of Membership Rewards points.
Complicated customer service. Resolving flight or hotel reservation issues becomes more complicated when you book through a third party such as AmEx travel. The airline or hotel blames the booking agency and may not immediately resolve the problem in some instances. However, providers have no scapegoat when you book direct.
No hotel elite status benefits or loyalty credits. Most hotels require you to book directly to receive elite status benefits, stay credits or earn points. For travelers looking to take advantage of their elite status or earn status for the next year, booking AmEx travel hotel reservations is not a good idea.
Despite the above policy, hotels booked through Fine Hotels & Resorts allow you to earn elite night credit and earn loyalty perks associated with your elite status level on any hotel reservations — regardless if you book in the portal or not.
Final thoughts on the AmEx travel portal
The AmEx travel portal offers numerous benefits for all American Express cardholders. If you have a Membership Rewards credit card, you can pay for all or part of eligible travel reservations using your points.
And any portion that you pay with your Membership Rewards card can earn up to 5x points. AmEx Travel also offers two hotel collections that provide additional perks similar to elite status benefits.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card