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American Express office in Italy - what are they good for?

American Express office in Italy - what are they good for?

Old Oct 11th, 2003, 02:26 PM
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American Express office in Italy - what are they good for?

I've been reading a few different travel guides and in almost every book on Italy/Paris - I find that there is a mention of the American Express office as an important number/location to know about. I'm curious as to why? I've read that most places in Europe take Visa/MC - not Am Ex. I did read on the board that you can buy your train tix here - do they tack on an extra charge? Thanks for any info!
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Old Oct 12th, 2003, 12:17 AM
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That is a loaded question.....the AMEX offices are good for everything! Having been the unfortunate victim of a stolen wallet near the Naples train station the first week of August, the local AMEX office was THE only office present and available in Italy to help me with their 'Global Assistance' program. For some strange reason, both Visa and MC do not have local offices there at all -- even though their cards are much more widely used throughout Europe than the AMEX card -- I found that incredible. I stopped all the credit cards that were in my wallet immediately, yet despite doing so, charges STILL came through on my Visa card 3 weeks after. It also took my Visa company over 12 days to send me a replacement Visa card to me in Italy via an "expedited service - Airborne Express (ha! NOT!), whereas I got my replacement AMEX card via DHL within 3 days of the incident, and $800 USD (= approx 680 euros at the time) to supplement me since I did not have any funds. Overall, I found AMEX to be terrifically accommodating and helpful during this stressful episode and I have nothing but the highest praise for their assistance when I was abroad. The reason most places in Europe take Visa and MC (versus AMEX) is because local merchants have to pay an additional fee to have an AMEX credit card machine in their shops, restaurants, etc. which they don't like to do since the Visa/MC machines are free. It is too bad that more businesses over there don't accept AMEX because it is a terrific card to have with a reliable company behind it to help its customers when there are problems (Visa and MC have no such programs, to my knowledge).
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Old Oct 12th, 2003, 06:25 AM
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Agree totally with Huitre. Amex also offers tours, usually very good. In Venice they do a gondola ride. You have to share with others, so maybe not as romantic, but lots less $ than going it alone.
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Old Oct 12th, 2003, 06:40 AM
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AMEX has always been a place where Americans with problems can get help - even if they don't have an AMEX card.
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Old Oct 12th, 2003, 06:45 AM
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If you have a platinum AmEx card you can cash a check for up to $10,000 US in the local currency. (not that I've had to do that...)
I did a couple of AmEx tours to outer islands in Hawaii and found them to be much less crowded than the typical large bus with 40+ people. I like their personal service.
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Old Oct 12th, 2003, 08:00 AM
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I can only speak to the Amex office in Rome by the Spanish Steps. I typically stop here first to buy our train pass and reserve the various legs of our trips. There is a very small fee but the staff at the office do a great job and they are extremely knowledgable. It is often pandemonium if you do this at the train station and there are invariably very long line ups. Fewer and fewer travel agents in Italy are selling/making Trenitalia reservations because the fee is so small. Not sure about today, but 15 years ago when we were on an extended European trip, we could pick up mail at Amex offices (did not even use Amex card at that time) as well as the local P.O.
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Old Oct 12th, 2003, 08:10 AM
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I too had a similar experience to Huitres. Had my wallet stolen on the bus in Rome. Thankfully, the only credit card I had on me was an Amex. After filing a police report (very interesting hour in the police station, report suitable for framing!), I went to Amex by the Spanish steps with the police report and was reissued a new card in 45 minutes, with very friendly service.
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Old Oct 12th, 2003, 12:26 PM
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Hi WendyWhy,
I almost never use my Am Exp card here but always call them before I leave the country to make sure I can use it and to tell them I will be out of the country. It has been several years, but once in Venice I took guided tours through them--could not find paper work for one tour (my fault) and they did not charge us anything for that tour. Another time in Budapest I was about out of cash and this was before widespread ATM. Went to their office and they advanced me cash just using my regular credit card. Of course, I paid a high fee but peace of mind was worth it to me.
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Old Oct 12th, 2003, 02:34 PM
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Thanks for the info! Last question - do I need to be an AMEX card holder to buy my train tix there or book their tours? Thanks!
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Old Oct 12th, 2003, 02:42 PM
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Platinum also offers emergency medical evacuation coverage that can cost $50,000 at no charge.
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Old Oct 13th, 2003, 10:55 AM
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I too would like to know if I have to have an AMEX card to purchase tickets in Rome at AMEX.
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Old Oct 13th, 2003, 11:00 AM
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Just got back...you don't need to have an AMEX card to use the offices. We made EuroStar Italia train reservations at the office in Florence with no additional fee and quick, efficient service with a smile. I don't have an AMEX card in the arsenal.
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Old Oct 13th, 2003, 11:59 AM
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I wouldn't go anywhere without my amex. Like the man said "don't leave home without it"
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