The beginning of the New Year is often a bad time for Travel Hackers because it means that most hotel and airline loyalty programs reset for the New Year, so if you haven’t requalified in the previous year, you will lose your status.
On the other hand, the beginning of the New Year also represents an opportunity for you to use your Annual $200 Travel Credit if you have the American Express Platinum Card. In the past, you would have to call in to apply that travel credit but you can now complete everything online.
Go to http://travel.americanexpress.ca/travel and log into our account
Once you login, you may be presented with a list of all your American Express cards. I chose to use my American Express Platinum Card because that’s where the credit actually resides (the card is listed but was at the bottom so it didn’t make the screenshot).
Now all you have to do is look for the travel where you would like to use your Travel Credit. I am using mine for a hotel stay in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Now if you are searching for a hotel, make sure that you read the cancellation policy closely because not all rates are the same. Some rates are non-refundable. To see the policy, first choose your hotel and your rate and click on the Policies link.
I find the American Express hotel cancellation policies a bit difficult to read.
The policy above means that if I cancel within 24 hours of my stay, I will be charged for 1 night. All other cancellations are free.
Once you find the room that you want with a cancellation policy to your liking, add it to your checkout cart. From there you will be asked to fill in your personal information for the reservation. Once you do that, scroll down to the payment section.
Here’s where you will find the option to apply your travel credit to the booking.
Now be careful. By default, American Express will assume you will want to use your Membership Reward points to pay for the hotel. If you do, great, if you don’t slide the slider all the way to the left.
Review everything one more time, specifically the cancellation policy and when you are ready, just check off that you accept the Terms and Conditions and click Book Now at the bottom of the screen.
When you successfully complete you reservation, you will be taken to the confirmation screen where you will see the details of your booking as well as your payment information.
Now you may be wondering why you’ve been charged for the full amount of the booking. That’s because when you make the booking, you pay for the full amount on your credit card. Within 2 business days, you will see a statement credit for $200 applied to your card. The $200 is not taken off at the time of booking, rather it is done on your card.
Unfortunately you cannot manage your bookings online with American Express Travel so if you do need to make changes or cancel your reservation, you will need to call into American Express Travel at 1-800-869-3016.
Now if you do need to cancel, what will happen is that the full amount of the travel will be credited to your card but the $200 travel credit remains as a credit on your card.
The $200 Annual Travel Credit for the American Express Platinum Card is an excellent benefit and is provided twice in the first year you have the card (year of issue and the following year) so you actually receive $400 worth of travel credits on a $699 annual fee card. That’s fantastic.
Now that you can use the credit online, it further increases the utility of the card. If you don’t have this card, you might want to strongly consider it but make up your mind after reading about it in my review of the card.
I can tell you for a fact that any Travel Hacker worth his/her weight in salt has this card in their wallet.