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Upgrade success with Platinum Card from American Express – Volvo and an Executive Suite

by on Wed January 18, 2012 • No Comment

The Platinum Card from American Express is the kind of credit card you can hold more for the travel privileges it affords than the points you earn with the card. In other words, it can be well worth it simply to have the card in your name even if you don’t use it for your regular spending.

Recently on a vacation weekend in Orange County, California, we put two of the Platinum Card travel privileges to the test:

  • The hotel room upgrades and discount credits of the Fine Hotels and Resorts program
  • Free Executive status at National Car Rental which offers complimentary upgrades on car rentals

An upgrade to a $40,000 Volvo for $25 per day

Volvo National Car UpgradeFirst, the Platinum Card rental car privileges. National’s Executive status which is free to Platinum Card members entitles you to two upgrade options. First, you can simply book a mid size reservation and choose any vehicle from the ‘Executive Selection,’ a group of cars set aside for members of the program. Usually these are mid size or premium vehicles, with an occasional surprise luxury car thrown in.

The second way to upgrade is by using the benefit that offers you a one car class discount on any rental. So if you reserve a Luxury class car, you will pay the Premium class rate. If you reserve a Premium class car you will pay just the Full Size rate.

We had booked a Luxury class car for the Premium Class rate of just $35 per day vs $70+ for a base Luxury rate. When we got to the lot, we found some attractive Luxury options, including two Infinity G37s and a couple of sporty Cadillacs.

But what caught our eye was in the (cheaper) Executive Selection: a Volvo XC70 wagon, decked out with a full sunroof, leather, and color dashboard screen.

Better yet, we were able to get that car at the mid size rate because it was in the Executive Selection, letting us get the rate of just $25 per day. An awesome deal for a car that would have gone for $75 or more per day without the Platinum Card.

Next, the hotel benefits….

An Executive Suite at the St. Regis

St Regis Executive Suite

St Regis Executive Suite

We stayed at the 5 star St. Regis Monarch Beach, not a cheap hotel, but right for an indulgent treat. We booked a rate of $270 using for the basic ‘garden view room.’

The American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program of the Platinum Card offers a number of benefits for stays booked using the program, including…

  • Space available room upgrades
  • Free breakfast each day
  • A high value gift once per stay (usually dining or spa credit)
  • 4pm late check out

And we were not disappointed. We were upgraded to an ‘Executive Suite’ which was selling for over twice the rate we paid, given $100 in dining credit, and $50 toward breakfast each day. 4pm check out was honored with no problems whatsoever.

The only glitch was the fact that the $100 dining credit is not posted automatically on your bill. It is posted at checkout. However when we checked out the bill we were handed didn’t have the credit applied. We asked where it was, and the agent said ‘that’s because it’s applied at checkout.’ A bit confused, we said okay, and she went about applying the credit, and then offered a new copy of the bill. Not clear whether they would have applied it had we not asked, but something to be aware of when you’re taking advantage of the Fine Hotel and Resorts benefits.

American Express is very diligent about auditing Fine Hotel and Resorts benefits, and requires every hotel participating to offer you a postage paid comment card at the time you check in to offer feedback on execution of the benefits.

But in all…we saved more than the $450 annual fee in one weekend with travel upgrades. Now, to be fair, we would have paid for a full priced Luxury car, but not for the hotel suite vs the regular room.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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