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Travel is slowly beginning to rebound from its lows earlier in the spring. Whenever you plan on moving about again, it’s important to remember to take advantage of all your travel card benefits. There’s one complimentary Amex card benefit that is not often mentioned — and it caught my attention recently.
That perk is a membership to a little-known program called the Travel Collection, and its accompanying $295-per-year set of benefits. Don’t be confused by the name. This is, in fact, different than Amex’s similarly branded Hotel Collection program.
The Travel Collection is designed to save you money on airfare, cruises, rental cars and gives you exclusive perks at some hotels — while also connecting you with a travel expert. Let’s take a look at which cards are eligible for a free membership, how to join and if the Travel Collection is worth your time.
What is The Travel Collection?
The Travel Collection is part of the Travel Leaders Group, one of the largest traditional travel agency companies. It partnered with Amex to provide a host of travel-related benefits which, according to its website, include ways to:
- Elevate your journey through valuable discounts and benefits
- Customize every element of your trip
- Use Membership Rewards points if you choose
This includes using Travel Collection specialists to assist with any travel needs while creating a personalized experience. Essentially, these are concierge phone agents who will help you with your travel bookings. And yes, you’ll have to interact with these specialists since there is no self-service tool — and no way to book anything online.
One of the benefits is that you can choose to Pay with Points for all or part of your booking. Also, you will still earn miles for flights, including 5x if you use The Platinum Card® from American Express.
What are the eligible cards that give access?
Complimentary membership to the $295-per-year Travel Collection program is available for the following cardholders:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee; see rates & fees)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express ($595 annual fee; see rates & fees)
- American Express® Gold Card ($250 annual fee; see rates & fees)
- American Express® Business Gold Card ($295 annual fee; see rates & fees)
Remember, the Platinum and Business Platinum already come with a host of travel perks, including access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts, the International Airline Program, hotel and car rental elite status and much more.
The Gold and Business Gold cards also come with travel-related benefits such as access to The Hotel Collection, which include room upgrades and hotel credits for dining, spa and resort activities.
Related: Review of The Platinum Card from American Express
How to join
It’s quite easy to join the Travel Collection program in a few steps online. There’s a direct landing page where you can enter your eligible card details.
Next, you’ll receive an email confirmation outlining your account information and available benefits. Finally, you’ll be able to log in to the Travel Collection’s website. It took just a minute or two to register from start to finish.
Is it worth it?
Once you log in to your account, you’ll see dozens of “Current Offers,” including discounts on hotels, vacation packages, rental cars and flights.
While the program advertises a handful of benefits, the reality is that to access any of them, you’ll have to call or chat a specialist. There are no self-service tools to book online. This makes it difficult to ascertain how good of a deal you’re getting since it’s a “your mileage may vary” situation.
Related: How to maximize the Amex Gold card’s benefits
Discounts differ a great deal but the Travel Collection says that your best bet may be scoring savings on premium cabin international long-haul flights. As of this writing, current Travel Collection airline partners include Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Emirates, Qantas and United.
To get a sense of pricing, I live chatted with a Travel Collection specialist about four flights, including two domestic transcontinental flights between Newark and Los Angeles and a couple of roundtrip flights between New York and Dubai on Emirates, all for early 2021.
The result? Unfortunately, none of the flights — in any class of service — were discounted when compared to searches with Google Flights.
In fact, the Emirates flights were slightly more expensive than my Google Flights searches. However, it doesn’t hurt to compare pricing for flights between Google Flights, the Travel Collection and if you have access, the Platinum card’s International Airline Program (IAP).
The downside is that while Google Flights and IAP are tools you can use online, you’ll have to manually feed your itinerary to an agent with the Travel Collection.
Related: Your complete guide to maximizing Google Flights
With hotels, there are more than 50 of them that participate with the Travel Collection offering free breakfast for two, a $50 resort credit and early check-in and check-out, based on availability.
For instance, in Seattle, the following hotels are available: Pan Pacific Seattle, Edgewater Seattle, Thompson Seattle, W Seattle, Alexis Hotel and Loews Hotel 1000. Just don’t expect to use your hotel elite benefits since you aren’t booking directly with the hotel.
Related: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 101: A guide to the lounges at SEA
The Travel Collection is an intriguing program that is worth at least a look before finalizing your travel plans. At the very least, it makes sense to register one of your eligible Amex cards since the service is free.
Its utility is compromised, however, due to lack of online booking and pricing that does not seem to be particularly groundbreaking. However, if you can find a discounted flight — or take advantage of hotel perks — the Travel Collection may very well be worth your time.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold, click here.
Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy