Do I need an American Express Card

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May 14th, 2003, 12:31 PM
  #1
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Do I need an American Express Card

I've been to Europe several times and didn't have one. But I'd like to hear from someone who does...is there really anything they offer that it would be advantageous to have? With the world being unsettled, would it be wise to have one this summer? I would welcome any opinions. Thanks!
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May 14th, 2003, 12:50 PM
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I signed up for one and received it before I went to Italy. I wanted a second backup credit card just in case something happened to the first. Since there was an American Express office in every city that I visited I thought it made sense to get one. Thankfully, never had to use it. It did make me feel better though knowing I had it for cash advances, etc. just in case. I signed up for the blue (no annual fee).
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May 14th, 2003, 01:35 PM
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I had an AMEXP card for about 20 years...from 73 to 93.

I dropped it when I started to go to Europe a lot in the late 80s as too many stores and restaurants were not taking the card as they preferred Visa or Master Card.

I now use Visa and have never been turned away. AMEXP charges the store more fees than do the other cards, therefore the store makes more when they do not take the AMEXP card. Funny side note also. When I dropped my card with AMEXPress after 20 years of never missing a payment and being 100% perfect, no one ever called or wrote to ask "why?". They brag about personal attention and then lose a 20 year customer and no one is in the loop to find out the reason. Instead they market to get more new people. Go figure that one out.....
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May 14th, 2003, 01:41 PM
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You don't HAVE to have one. And, Bob is right that it's not as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard.
However, one advantage is that should the need arise, you can cash a personal check at any Amex office. That's now my "just-in-case" security (rather than travelers checks) should I lose or have my credit cards stolen.
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May 14th, 2003, 01:44 PM
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Howard is right. I forgot to add that I do bring my checkbook along with my card for that reason instead of traveler's checks. It's worth the peace of mind.
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May 14th, 2003, 01:44 PM
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I agree with Bob1. I live in France and have always, until very recently, used Visa as my only credit card. However, a recent trip abroad led me to obtain an Amex card as a backup (also it was being promoted by the World Wildlife Fund, and I'm couldn't resist idea of having a Panda card!!), and I must say that I find it quite hard to use it in France! Most hotels and restaurants will take it, but some stores, including major supermarkets and large chain stores refuse it (often, I suspect, through ignorance on the part of the cashier, unsure how to process a "foreign" card). Visa, on the other hand, is accepted almost everywhere (except maybe some small places that don't take credit card payments at all). In think it's highly unlikely you would come across an establishment in Europe that accepts Amex but not Visa!!
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May 14th, 2003, 02:05 PM
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Here's an odd one. About 8 years ago we had dinner in a nice restaurant in Stockholm (the Gondola???). When we pulled out Visa and Master Card to pay, they told us the only credit card they accepted was American Express. You could have knocked us over, but yes, we had one. That was a fluke. It's never happened to us since.
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May 14th, 2003, 02:14 PM
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Merchants often have to pay more to use American Express than Visa or MC here in the states. So perhaps for the very same reason that some doctors for instance don't accept AmEx here, Europeans might not want to accept it.
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May 14th, 2003, 02:24 PM
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I have AmEx -- use it to charge travel expenses such as car rental, air and train tickets, and sometimes for hotels. (I get miles with that, and they are mounting up nicely). Big advantage is that there is no $$ limit, so if there is some kind of travel emergency I don't have to worry.

I keep my Visa card for shopping.
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May 14th, 2003, 02:33 PM
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I take my green AMex card to Europe because I can use it as a back up to my bank debit card. In other words, I use it in the ATM to get cash from checking account. It can also be used as a credit card,or for cash advances. It's great peace of mind in case my bank debit card is lost, demagnitized, etc.
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May 14th, 2003, 02:33 PM
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In the US there are merchants that only accept AmEx. They get paid by Amex to do that, but I think most of them have discovered that the lost sales are not covered by the Amex marketing payments.

I much perfer my Diners Club to Amex. Great car rental insurance coverage and my customer service interactions have been much better.
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May 14th, 2003, 03:17 PM
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I have always found Visa to be the most widely accepted. having said that We recently got a delta Amex card, with sign up bonus, double miles on certain purchases , and an extra 15,000 miles for spending $5000.00 in the first 5 months, we got an additional 15,000 miles each...we put our new car on it ans then paid with a personal check..we now have 2 free business class tickets ! But we do use it as a debit card..if we use it we deduct that amount from the checking acount and pay the bill in full when it comes due.

It really is not as widely accepted as Visa, and diner's club is a dinosauer in my opinion!
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May 14th, 2003, 03:27 PM
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I closed my account 15 years ago, and find Visa and MasterCard quite enough.

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May 14th, 2003, 04:01 PM
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Well Diner's club may be a a dinosaur in your belief, but when I lost my wallet Diner's club had the new card there in 24 hours with a cash advance and was bending over backwards to get me fixed up. Amex acted like I was trying to defraud the company and Visa told me my account was cancelled, but I would have to call the bank the next business day to get a new card. Service counts! I do have a Visa, but in an emergency I would call Diners.
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May 14th, 2003, 04:05 PM
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did I read correctly that Dori has her American check book in Europe? Is this a personal check book, like a Wachovia or Bank of America personal checking account check book? Do you have it as emergency backup for use at an AMEX office -- that is present the card and cash a check kind of service?

If having the "blue card" carries with it personal check cashing privileges at AMEX offices in Europe, I can quickly accept a major reason for having the AMEX card even if does not have a wide following in Europe.

I always make sure my checking account has some extra money in it before I leave. I then rely on my ATM card for any cash I might need to pay for services or merchandise I cannot pay for with Visa.

As for plastic that I can use as a credit card, Amex is something I have never had and have never needed that I was aware of. My advice about credit cards is to have two different ones, plus two ATM cards, just in case some hungry ATM machine decides to eat lunch.

I have told before my story about the French waiter who almost blew a gasket when my credit card allegedly failed, so I will not repeat it. In essence, a few AE traveler's checks on the table plus a second credit card bailed me out of a tense situation.


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May 14th, 2003, 06:53 PM
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there is truth in all of the above statements...i will add a different twist...except in ireland (insurance for cars) i always use my amex cards to rent cars....reason being they are the most helpful with problem resolution...forget visa and m/c if you have a problem....
i travel frequently and the only time i have had problems it is related to car rentals...THUS AMEX to the rescue...

twice i have had to not pay for car rentals because the rental company refused to answer amex's inquiry....
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May 15th, 2003, 04:41 AM
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Bob_brown - to answer your question re Dori's statement: Yes, you are correct. If you have an AMEX card and a personal checking account from an American bank, you can cash a check at AMEX offices around the world. I haven't had to use that service yet, but it's nice to know it's there.
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May 15th, 2003, 04:50 AM
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While it doesn't make sense for everyone, especially with an annual fee of at least $375, we've found the AMEX Platinum Card to be very useful when traveling. We've taken advantage of their concierge service to find guides in Normandy and Burgandy, and have used them to secure restaurant reservations at some difficult spots, sometimes last minute. (Taillevent in Paris, for example.)

We've also used thier Platinum Travel Service to book their select hotels and for automatic room upgrades. As both my wife and I fly Continental fairly often on business, we also appreciate the automatic access to their President's Club.

While the Platinum Card isn't for everyone, we definately utilize the additional services like the buyer protection. We effectively covered the cost of our fee for the next several years as AMEX replaced a ring that my wife had lost within just a few months of its purchase.
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May 15th, 2003, 06:12 AM
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That is good to know about the Amex card. Thanks for the info.

I know that I have debated about getting an Amex card on the Delta Sky Miles plan, but I have never investigated it thoroughly. The check cashing aspect of the card might be an extra incentive.

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May 15th, 2003, 09:18 AM
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There is nothing that the Amex card offers that can't be found on most Visa & Mastercard accounts, especially the Platinum cards. The services offered may be called something different, but it's basically the same service.

In my opinion it's better to have a card issued from a European bank, as well as your other cards.
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