Do Travel Agents Save You Money?

Travel agents have access to deals that you won't find online.
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Written by Stephen Vanderpool
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With a few keystrokes, you can find cheap travel deals on the web. But travel agents can do that and more.

Often, travel agents receive deals directly from hotels and tour operators that you may not have access to. They also have contacts with resorts and hotels, so they can bargain for better deals. But just how much do travel agents cost? Some people assume that travel agents are expensive, which may keep them from using their services. However, that's not necessarily true.

Regardless if you go with a travel agent or plan on your own, it can be a smart money move to book with a credit card thats earns rewards on your bookings and helps you avoid foreign transaction fees if you end up traveling abroad.

How much does a travel agent cost?

The cost of using a travel agent is generally marginal, and often, they won't charge you at all. Much of their money comes from commissions the hotels and wholesalers pay them. Before you decide to book with a travel agent, inquire whether or not they charge fees.

Also, if you’ve booked a trip with a travel agent and for whatever reason need to cancel, they might be able to help get the refund more directly.

Do travel agents get discounts on flights?

Generally not, and especially not for short distances. For the most part, any discount you'd get from using a travel agent would be for a combined package. Still, it never hurts to ask if your travel agent can get you a deal on your flight.

How can a travel agent help me?

If you're traveling internationally — especially to a country you've never visited — a travel agent can be a useful resource in helping you plan your trip. They can manage all of your booking needs, which can be easier than juggling a long itinerary that includes flights, hotels and excursions on your own.

Group travel is another common situation that can benefit from an agent's assistance. Coordinating bookings across multiple parties can get confusing. A travel agent can keep things organized, negotiate with services and personally work out any complications that may arise. Rather than trying to reserve rooms in the same hotels and seats on the same flights with multiple credit cards and names, let a travel agent do that work.

Travel agents can also be helpful by providing destination advice. Many specialize in particular destinations and can offer insight as to how you should structure your visit. Agents can direct you to the services, facilities and entertainment that best align with your interests and needs.

Smart money move: Book with the right credit card

Whether you decide to use a travel agent to book your trip (i.e. flights, accommodations, excursions, cruises, car rentals, etc.) or plan the whole trip on your own, consider what credit card makes the most sense for your vacation.

If you're going abroad, use a card that waives foreign transaction fees so that you can avoid those fees. Also consider credit cards that include complimentary travel insurance so that you can be protected on your trip if things go awry.

Here is a sampling of cards that include travel insurance and also waive foreign transaction fees. These cards also earn rewards on travel, which you can redeem in various ways.

Top travel cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
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on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
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on Chase's website

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
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on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
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on Chase's website

Annual fee

$95.

$550.

$695.

$95.

Earn rate

• 5 points per $1 on travel booked through Chase.

• 3 points per $1 on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).

• 2 points per $1 on other travel.

• 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

• 10 points per $1 on Chase Dining, hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Chase.

• 5 points per $1 on air travel purchased through Chase.

• 3 points per $1 on other travel and dining not booked with Chase.

• 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

• 5 points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 spent per year.

• 5 points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

• 1 point per $1 on other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

• 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping, select advertising, internet, cable and phone services business categories each account anniversary year.
Travel protections (not a comprehensive list)

• Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket for delays more than 12 hours.

• Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $40,000 per 12-month period.

• Trip interruption: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $40,000 per 12-month period.

• Baggage delay: Up to $100 per day for five days.

• Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger.

• Travel accident: Up to $500,000.

• Rental car insurance: Up to $75,000.

• Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket for delays more than 6 hours.

• Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $40,000 per 12-month period.

• Trip interruption: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $40,000 per 12-month period.

• Baggage delay: Up to $100 per day for five days.

• Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger.

• Travel accident: Up to $1 million.

• Rental car insurance: Up to the actual cash value of the car.

• Trip delay: Up to $500 per trip for delays more than 6 hours.

Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $20,000 per 12-month period.

• Trip interruption: Up to $10,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $20,000 per 12-month period.

• Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger.

• Travel accident: Up to $500,000.

• Rental car insurance: Up to $75,000.

Terms apply.

• Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket for delays more than 12 hours.

• Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $20,000 per 12-month period.

• Trip interruption: Up to $10,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $20,000 per 12-month period.

• Baggage delay: Up to $100 per day for five days.

• Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger.

• Travel accident: Up to $500,000.

• Rental car insurance: Up to the actual cash value of the car.

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The cards listed above all carry annual fees, especially given all the perks they provide.

If you don't care about the perks listed and simply want a card with no annual fee that waives foreign transaction fees, check out this list of options.

How do I find a good travel agent?

Several websites can help you track down and contact suitable travel agents. TravelSense.org, part of the American Society of Travel Advisors, allows you to search by some useful parameters including specialty and geographic location.


Insurance Benefit: Trip Delay Insurance

  • Up to $500 per Covered Trip that is delayed for more than 6 hours; and 2 claims per Eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period.

  • Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply.

  • Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.

  • Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Insurance Benefit: Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance

  • The maximum benefit amount for Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance is $10,000 per Covered Trip and $20,000 per Eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period.

  • Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply.

  • Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.

  • Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Insurance Benefit: Baggage Insurance Plan

  • Baggage Insurance Plan coverage can be in effect for Covered Persons for eligible lost, damaged, or stolen Baggage during their travel on a Common Carrier Vehicle (e.g., plane, train, ship, or bus) when the Entire Fare for a ticket for the trip (one-way or round-trip) is charged to an Eligible Card. Coverage can be provided for up to $2,000 for checked Baggage and up to a combined maximum of $3,000 for checked and carry-on Baggage, in excess of coverage provided by the Common Carrier. The coverage is also subject to a $3,000 aggregate limit per Covered Trip. For New York State residents, there is a $2,000 per bag/suitcase limit for each Covered Person with a $10,000 aggregate maximum for all Covered Persons per Covered Trip.

  • Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply.

  • Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.

  • Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

Insurance Benefit: Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance

  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $75,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply.

  • Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply.

  • Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.

  • Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

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