Is AmEX worth getting?

Old Jun 22nd, 2001, 03:48 AM
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Amex is not always accepted in Europe, eg some hotels dont accept it.I have an Amex corp. card which I never use unless I'm going to the US.
Many businesses here don't like dealing with them, the member benifits come from gouging the retailer.
So its no use here as a primary or backup card.
Unless there are specific services you want (eg reductions on certain hotel chains), I wouldn't bother.
Of course you will get a lot of airmiles if you book your flight with Amex.(eg with AA - depends on the airline)
Old Jun 24th, 2001, 05:29 PM
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When my AMEX card came up for renewal at $50 I called and told them to cancel it. They said "why" and I said "why pay $50 when other cards don't charge anything." They said "would you keep it at no cost?" and I said "sure, if I still get the 30 days car insurance coverage." They said "O.K." So, I still have the card which I can use if necessary. Hope this helps.
Old Jun 24th, 2001, 06:52 PM
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Tony--as the saying goes- I don't leave home without it--AX is a bank in Europe so if you need to change TC. or cash a regular check, your AX and passport suffice for ID--also their memberhsip miles club is THE BEST--i have upgraded to business class and gotten almost all my Europe tkts using my AX miles---much better than USAIR visa card or AA Mastercard for the airline tkts--in my opinion....
Old Jun 24th, 2001, 07:45 PM
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I wanted to chip in with a big thumbs down for the Barcelona AMEX office. We needed some meds shipped in from the US - stat - and had them sent to the AMEX office in Barcelona, thinking this was one of the nice services we could count on as justification for the above-average fees and below-average acceptance of the card. When we got there and the office opened (after lunch, siesta, staff training, whatever the cause for miserable delays) we were told - in a downright snotty tone - that the "poste restante" service was limited to "normal" sized envelopes only, and that our parcel (the size of a paperback book) had been refused, and we'd have to schlep halfway around town to the local FedEx representative to get it. "Where's the FedEx office?" - Shrug. "Can we use the phone?" - No. Oy. Plus, while we were standing there I overheard the "travel agent" giving TERRIBLE advice to a poor girl trying to get to London for a family emergency. I don't know if this is typical, but it sure put me off my AMEX card, permanently.
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 08:48 AM
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I have been an AMEX cardholder since 1978. It is my card of choice. In fact, I do not have a VISA or MC. I think all of this banter about which card is best, is simply a matter of choice and preference. Attest the wide range of answers to your question. Perhaps, the AMEX is not for everyone. For others of us, it is our card of choice.
First, in my view, the American Express Rewards Program is far superior to any other loyalty program available...and there are in fact some good ones. To those of us who travel a great deal and incur very large monthly bills, this is a great incentive, and with a good history we do not need to be concerned about any spending limit. Also, I have received far more in hotel savings and other upgrades by using their travel service, than the price of my membership fee. That said, it is also worth the price of admission if you are taking advantage of all of the ancillary services which are part and parcel to certain AX cards i.e., airport lounges, concierge service, late hotel check outs, retaraunt reservations. On the few occassions, I have had a problem with a billing, the customer service to resolve any problems has been excellent. I will agree, that in some places, the AX card is not as readily acceptible as the others, however, I can only recall but a few times in all of the places I have been to, that I have not been able to use it. I have always been able to use it at hotels and restraunts, and car rentals.
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 10:06 AM
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Wonder why AMEX is not accepted in more places?

Here's what happens when you pay for anything with a credit card - may not apply to "mega" companies - but certainly does to every small business:

With VISA and MC, your purchase is posted to the merchant's bank within 48 hours. With AMEX, the merchant waits 4-5 days (sometimes longer) for the money.

Each credit card sale incurs a transaction fee (percentage of the sale). VISA/MC fees are tolerable, AMEX is akin to highway robbery.

If you like the service and/or merchant you do business with (at home or while travelling), do him/her/them a favor and pay with ANY card other than AMEX - reserve it for those you don't like.

That phrase, "the card" means two entirely different things - depending on which side of the transaction you're on.

In our business, we are now telling customers who want to pay w/AMEX that there is a 5% surcharge for its use - and even with that, we still don't recoup the difference between what AMEX charges vs. VISA/MC.

BTW, Discover cards are no bargin either.. where do you think that "cash back" bonus comes from.
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 11:31 AM
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Add me to the list who have dumped AmEx. The only thing that it offers is the ability to redeem FF ponts on a number of airlines. That, too has its lmitations, however - significant blackouts, etc. do apply. And besides, these points don't count for qualification for the airlines Elite level programs, which is where one really gets to earn some of the best perks.
Reasons for dropping were 1) why pay for what everyone else gives me for free?; 2) absolutely HORRIBLE treatment and service in several European AmEx offices. Not only unhelpful, but infuriatiungly rude for even the most elementary of service requests. The promise of traveler assistance is a ruse! 3) it is indeed not accepted nearly as widely as the other branded (Visa, MC) credit cards.
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 11:54 AM
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I just posted a reply earlier..but after reading some of the subsequent post, must chime back in again . The illusion that AX charges exhorbitant fees to the merchants is a bit much...It is a bit higher it is true..but it is only by a marginal rate..At my busines..I am charged an effective rate of 2.25-2.35% to accept VISA or MC.while at the same time I am charged 3.1% to take an AX..hardly enough to quivel about..While it is true, there are some black out dates,,,,I would think that any of the other programs are faced with the same problems due to demand..after all there are more of us out her getting points,,than there are airplane seats to sit on ...when we decide to redeeem the points...and I would think it would not matter whether that was an AMEX, VISA. or MC affinity program..
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 12:20 PM
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Well, I was just in Europe and let me tell you a Visa or Mastercard is worth gold. You may see only a handful of shops/stores that accept AMEX but the majority of places definitely accept Visa/Mastercard or for some who have it, Diners Club. (Sorry, they never heard of the Discover card abroad)

So hopefully this answers your questions.
Old Jun 27th, 2001, 06:26 PM
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Like most of the other replies, I think that a second card is essential, whether it is AmEx or not. I, too, think AmEx is great and it keeps me honest and pay my bill in full at the end of the month. I also like knowing that I have no spending limits. I was in Paris last month and had no problem with my AmEx card. I think there was one shop that didn't accept it, but the rest of the charges I made were posted to AmEx. Whatever you decide to do, take a second card. Have fun!!
Old Jun 27th, 2001, 09:31 PM
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response to Gerry above, who wrote:
Gerry ([email protected])
Date: 06/21/2001, 03:42 pm ET
"Amex Platinum Cash Rebate Card gives you a rebate of 2% on your purchases only if you carry a CREDIT BALLANCE of over $5000! You pay 17 1/2 % interest on this ballance. Then they "give" you a 2% rebate at the end of the year. If you think this is a good deal, I suggest you talk to a financial advisor or debt counselor. You should skip a few trips until you pay off your credit cards!"

I never carry a balance and have never paid a finance charge. I pay it off in full every month, and I DO get the 2% cash rebate (last 3 years in a row)!

As far as I know, this is the only flavor of Platinum Cash Back card that AMEX offers.

Old Jun 27th, 2001, 10:30 PM
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I went back and re-read the disclosure statement. You're right. I misread it. Sorry for what I said about your finantial savy. The disclosure statement I have(AMEX Platinum Cash Rebate Credit Card) says 1 1/2% rebate on all purchases over $5000 per year(not per month) and an additional .5% (or 2% total) cash rebate for purchases on which you carry a ballance. Below the $5000 level your rebate is .25% to .5%.
Hope I am reading it correctly this time. But you are correct as to not having to carry a cash ballance to get to at least the 1.5% level.
I, too, pay off my ballance every month.

Thanks for pointing out my error.

Old Jun 27th, 2001, 11:11 PM
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No Gerry you were right. To get the full 2% cash rebate on your card you would have to carry a $5000 balance as you stated. But Tom may be right too. Maybe all AmEx cards are not the same.
Old Jun 28th, 2001, 04:30 AM
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As previously stated, there's no question that Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted cards, but it's a misstatement to say that Amex is not accepted in many places, at least from my experience. In fact, I've never try to use it and been told the place of business didn't accept Amex. My Visa card has never left my wallet in Europe.
As far as the merchant being charged more, that really is not of great signficance to me when deciding which card to use.
Old Jun 28th, 2001, 08:28 AM
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Frank & Gerry -

All these bank cards' terms & conditions are so confusing (intentionally so, I am sure) that I suppose everyone should just carefully read all the fine print and determine how applicable it is to their own situation.

You are all correct that in this specific case AMEX has a "progressive" rebate, and to get up to the full 2% rebate requires substantial purchases to the card. In my case, I charge virtually EVERYTHING (incl groceries) to the AMEX card just to get that 2% effective discount. Of course, it requires the discipline to monitor one's purchases carefully and to avoid the usurious finance charges. It may not be appropriate for everyone.
Old Jun 28th, 2001, 10:35 AM
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I have kept my Amex card due to two trips where they were a life-saver.
1. An ealier trip to Italy prior to days of ATM's where they cashed a large personal check for me.
2. In Luxor, I stopped by their office looking for a translator when my plane was cancelled, and even though I had NOT booked my trip through them, they sat me down, bought me tea and made numerous phone calls on my behalf to get me on the next plane out and put my trip back on schedule. Meanwhile hords of people could not get any information in any language and many did not get on the next flight.
I am forever grateful to them, and carry their card whenever I travel overseas. Things happen!
Old Jun 28th, 2001, 02:56 PM
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You just made the point for me that I so clumsily attempted. One should at least try to understand the fine print before falling for advertising of "free" things. Very few things offered are truly free. Their hope is that you will get hooked on their 17 1/2% debt. This can realy mess up your future travel plans!
I can see that definately don't advocate this type of use of credit. That I may have implied this, is the reason for the apology.

American Express: I have never used an AMEX card in Europe(use Master Card and Visa). Over the years, I have used some other of their overseas services(travelers checks, city tours etc.) and never had a bad experience with them. In "the old days" we would look for the American Express office when we needed help or advice(sort of like you might go to the embassy). (Example: When we needed a visa from East Germany to get out of West Berlin.) Never was asked for a card to get their travel services(travel services was/is-?- their business). If you had a couple of their traveler's checks, that was great, but you didn't even need that. Now, I'm sure things are different and I haven't used them lately. But, I still have very good feelings towards them. This makes me think: I might consider having their card or something just as insurance that I might have another place to go to for help in case of an emergency.(see Conni's post) It would be sort of analogous to having AAA in the US in case your car breaks down.


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