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American Express cards are known for their additional benefits, the protections on purchases that give you peace of mind and reason to hold cards well beyond earning Membership Rewards points.
But what you exactly receive in benefits is often a mystery.
You’ll get a detailed booklet when you first receive your card, but most of us just toss it aside and don’t know where to go look for it when the benefits matter. To make things worse, the guides are written in small black and white print that make them hard to read and understand.
Fortunately credit card companies are starting to catch on that it’s important to be able to find information about these sometimes obscure benefits in a reliable place.
American Express is now one of them.
Just go to this link and you’ll be able to look up all of the purchase and travel benefits associated with American Express cards issued directly by American Express. There’s still a lot of text to read through as these aren’t summaries of the benefits, but complete details of the terms and conditions associated with each benefit. For example there are over 10 pages devoted to the extended warranty benefit. The upside is that you can at least keyword search the document to find what you need rather than reading every single phrase.
So what is special about American Express card benefits?
American Express cards are well known for their purchase and warranty protection.
These make sure you are taken care of if something goes wrong with the things you buy with your card.
Their purchase protection benefit, which replaces items if you damage them after purchase, is stronger than any other we know of.
And their warranty extension is known for having excellent customer service for claims, handled directly by American Express. Most other credit card companies farm out their claims handling to third party companies who might not offer the level of service you’re used to.
They are also known for event ticket protection.
If you buy a ticket to a concert for example, and use a Gold, Platinum, or Plum charge card to pay for it, American Express will reimburse you in case your ticket is destroyed or stolen (but not lost). They will also reimburse you if you can’t make it to the event because of a car accident, jury duty, cancellation of the event, medical emergency, or other covered reasons.
Most other card companies won’t offer this kind of coverage, though American Express excludes residents of New York from the coverage, which is unfortunate for a place with many hot events.
One area where American Express tends to fall short though is travel protection benefits.
None of the American Express cards offers a benefit if your flight or baggage is delayed. Yet several Chase cards will pay for your hotel and necessary personal items if they are delayed, a very useful benefit, especially when weather causes you flight to be delayed. In these situations the airlines have no obligation to help you so the extra coverage is a real benefit.
American Express used to offer some flight delay coverage for a fee, but that is no longer available.
In addition Amex’s standard car rental collision coverage tends to have more caveats than others.
For example, rentals in Australia and Italy are excluded from coverage, yet they are covered by most other credit card companies. And none of the American Express cards offer complimentary primary coverage for car rental collision damage.
That means you must file a claim with your own personal insurance first before American Express will let its coverage kick in. When you file a claim with your own insurance carrier you may end up with higher rates on your personal policy and be subject to your policy’s deductible.
Instead, if you want primary coverage from your American Express card you must pay American Express a fee every time you rent a car. Chase offers this level of protection complimentary on some of its cards like the United MileagePlus Explorer Card.
Regardless of the comparisons, you’ll get more out of your American Express card with easier access to full online benefits guides, which will make you more informed of your rights as an American Express card member.
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