When we started this trip, we thought we would mainly use our American Express card. In fact, we upgraded to platinum, thinking that all of the benefits would more than offset the $300 upgrade cost and we'd really rack up the points on our trip around the globe. Now I'm sure that Amex did nothing untoward and that we probably misunderstood a lot of benefits and just didn't read the fine print.
However, here are the reasons the American Express Platinum Card is a complete ripoff for international travel:
* We thought it would be widely accepted, but American Express was our most rejected credit card. First of all, you usually have to pay cash in developing countries. Even if they did accept credit cards, apparently Amex's fees are so high, everyone prefers Visa or Mastercard.
* They have an international collect number where you can call them 24/7 for any problems or fraud issues at no charge to you. Not once have we been able to connect to an operator to make a collect call.
* Their fraud protection program extremely overbearing. I am not exaggerating when I say that every single time I have tried to purchase plane tickets online, the charge would not go through the first time. I would have to call them to have the fraud alert cleared and the card unfrozen. Making these calls is really inconvenient, not to mention expensive, since the collect call thing doesn't actually work.
* Supposedly, we would be able to access all of the airlines' executive lounges--convenient for layovers and just a general perk when flying. We have not been let into a *single* lounge when traveling internationally. Nope, not even one! There are two problems with this. One is that it's only good for Sky Team airlines, so it doesn't work for United and all of its partners, which we fly often. Two, even when we have happened to fly a Sky Team airline, we've been turned away because our card is American. [Interestingly enough, the *domestic* terminal in the Delhi airport has a lounge for Platinum American Express members. We stopped in there for about three minutes just because we could, but didn't have enough time to check out any of the perks.]
* We thought for every first class ticket we purchased, we'd get a free companion ticket. (not that we planned on doing this often, but maybe for some longer flights) This is only true in flights originating out the United States. Very convenient when you're on international travel!
* Using their travel concierge is basically impossible since all of their suggested arrangements are prohibitively expensive. Definitely a perk for those on a corporate account or the extremely wealthy--not for mere mortals!
I've used Amex since college when I used my Dad's account to buy plane tickets home and we'll still use them in the future. But we'll definitely downgrade from platinum!