Are Credit Card Concierge Services Worth Anything?

Many credit cards offer access to a concierge. “So What?” you might ask (I know that’s what Sharon would say) (Note from Sharon: Yup!). Well, a concierge may be able to help with your vacation plans or get tickets for shows or concerts you couldn’t get yourself. Being an obsessive planner, I never found much value added by talking to a concierge. They’ve often just cut and and pasted lists from Yelp! or TripAdvisor for me and that’s something I can do myself. But if you’re the type that’s too busy to look up good restaurants in San Francisco near your hotel, this might be a great service for you.

The number of cards that offer concierge services is truly staggering. From the top end of top end cards to the most basic entry level card, they all offer some level of services.

Here’s a list of concierge services offered by credit cards:

Visa Signature

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Many cards carry the Visa Signature logo. Look in the bottom right corner or on the back of the card. If it’s there, you’re in! I counted five different cards that are Visa Signature, two of which are no-annual fee cards.

Here’s a description of what’s offered:

The Visa Signature Concierge Service is a service that provides Visa Signature cardholders with personalized information and options on a wide range of topics related to travel, dining, and entertainment.

The Concierge Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Concierge Service fulfills the following types of request(s):

  • Travel Coordination – Domestic and International planning for air travel, lodging, recreation, and ground transportation, including reservations and arrangements
  • Dining, Entertainment & Recreation – Such as sports and performance event tickets, dining reservations.
  • Personal Services – Such as gift ideas, and flower delivery
  • And More

Wow. I’m not thrilled that they listed “And More” as its own heading but I imagine this could be helpful. Here’s how to get your benefits:

How does the Visa Signature Concierge Service work?

Visa Signature cardholders access the Concierge Service through a toll-free phone number: 1.800.953.7392 (outside of the US, cardholders can call collect at 630.350.4551) or via the website (www.visasignatureconcierge.com). Cardholders can call or email a request 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Depending on the nature of the request, a Concierge Representative may be able to assist them right away. If the request needs to be researched, the Concierge Representative will contact the cardholder by follow-up phone call or email.

Visa Infinite

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This is the next level of Visa cards and only the exclusive cards, with annual fees to match, carry this logo.

The most well known Visa Infinite cards are the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa and the UBS Visa Infinite.

I personally hate that when you get higher level service, as there’s less and less information about what that service actually provides. Here’s the information from the Visa Infinite website:

Your Visa Infinite Complimentary Concierge can help take care of almost any requests – from making dining reservations to helping build vacation itineraries and more. Your Concierge is available 24/7 and can be reached at 1-888-853-4458. You want to plan something unforgettable. Your Visa Infinite card specializes in special.

You specialize in special. What does that even mean? Is that a sentence? I guess if I have to ask, then I’m not special enough to know. I get it now.

Mastercard World and World Elite

Many Mastercards have either the World or World Elite logo on them. I found several of them in our wallets (or in the drawer)

The Mastercard World and World Elite cards provide access to a concierge but the information of what services are provided are limited at best. I’m unsure what difference there is in the services provided. Here’s what on the Mastercard World website:

GLOBAL CONCIERGE

Always here to assist you in discovering more. Mastercard has knowledgeable specialists available 365 days a year.

The World Elite website is more elegant while not saying anything specific.

24/7 Concierge

World Elite Mastercard comes with a complimentary 24/7 concierge service that acts like a relentless personal assistant. Need to locate hard-to-find items or even reserve that perfect table? Our concierge is there to help. To contact the concierge, call the number on the back of your card.

Citi Prestige

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While the Citi Prestige gives you access to the Mastercard World Elite Concierge, they also have their own concierge program (note: Google Chrome tells me this is an unsafe but it was the direct link provided by Citi). The Citi concierge is run by Aspire Lifestyles. I’ve contacted the Citi concierge several times to book rooms for me using the fourth hotel night free benefit offered by the card, I’ve never tried any of their other services. Not that there’s much else mentioned on the website:

Citi® Concierge experts are ready 24/7 to assist you with your travel, shopping, dining, entertainment, and everyday needs. Contact us at concierge@yourconciergecenter.com or 1-800-508-8930 

American Express Platinum Concierge

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I saved the best for last. Of all the concierge services, I still consider American Express the only one to be a value added service. I haven’t used the concierge much but when I did, they were wonderful. Here’s a description from AMEX website of the service offered:

Our Concierge staff is available to you day or night as a personal resource for many different aspects of your life. Whether you need to select a restaurant and arrange the details of an upcoming special event or if you want expert advice selecting just the right gift, you can rely on Concierge to coordinate and take care of your requests, big and small.

My first time using the concierge was for my “round” birthday year trip. I wanted to go to Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in Yountvlle, CA, but the problem was that reservations are almost impossible to come by. We would only be in the area for two nights, so I didn’t have any chance to screw it up. I emailed the AMEX Platinum concierge and promptly received this response:

Good evening! I hope this email finds you well. Thank you for your email inquiring about the status of your reservation request for The French Laundry in Napa Valley. I apologize that for any delay in getting back to you. The restaurant accepts reservations 2 months in advance to the date. As such, the first date we can contact the restaurant regarding your reservation request will be XXXXXXXX. At that time, we will attempt to book your first requested date. You can expect an update no later than 9:00 pm ET on Saturday XXXXXXXXXX. The 16 seat restaurant books quickly so if we are unsuccessful, we will attempt for your other dates as the reservation books open.

Exactly two months to the day before our trip, I received this email.

I hope you had a wonderful conversation with my colleague. I am delighted to let you know that I have secured your reservation at The French Laundry. While we cannot tell you about the menu as it changes daily we can say that desserts have included pecan pie with verjus-poached honey pears and ice cream flavored with grains of paradise; and buttermilk sherbet and Marcona almond waffle. The cheese cart course is composed and presented in the same labor-intensive fashion as the rest of the meal. The wine list is appropriately extensive. The servers are intuitive, precise and deliberately paced, allowing you to soak in the three or four hour experience.

I am very excited to present you with a much sought after reservation at the world famous The The French Laundry. I know you are going to have an amazing experience. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me the next time we speak. Please see below for your reservation details, confirmation and cancellation policy including dress code

One of the policies of The French Laundry is a need to call 72 hours before your reservation to confirm your time with them. One problem – we were in Yosemite National Park three days before our reservation, so we had no signal and were unable to call. (Did I ever mention how much Sharon liked Yosemite, and the fact it snowed when were there?)

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(Note from Sharon: If you couldn’t tell from the picture, I’m not a fan of mountains, rocks, freezing weather or snow. Joe LOVED it. It’s a good thing this was his birthday trip and that I love him; that’s all I gotta say…)

I emailed AMEX from Yosemite (we had inconsistent Edge service) and asked if they could confirm for us since we were unable to call ourselves. I had a reply two hours later:

Please be advised that your reservation has been confirmed on your behalf. Below, please find your confirmation details.

I was really impressed with the service. I didn’t need to use AMEX concierge again until I heard they had tickets for HAMILTON!!!

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Now, while the process to get tickets from the AMEX concierge for Hamilton wasn’t easy, we were able to get tickets for face value. Not an easy feat and one that gives value to having access to them.

American Express Centurion Concierge

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The American Express Centurion (Black) card. I’m not writing about this card because I know how good the concierge services they provide are. I mean this card is for the people who have people. The people who have this card don’t check OpenTable to see where is the place to eat or how to get from JFK to Manhattan by the subway. I bet they don’t even take the subway.

However, we do get a glimpse into the services this card provide from The Points Guy. When American Express says you have a concierge, you really do. A real person you communicate with. For Brian Kelly, that person is Ray:

Ray is a jack of all travel trades: he always knows my preferred seats on planes based on their layouts, he advises hotels of my arrival and departure times and successfully coordinates my airport pickups. He’s always available to help book or make changes, and it’s not an easy task, considering the amount I travel.

So if you ever find yourself stuck on Bali because of a volcano eruption, it helps to have an American Express Centurion Card concierge to arrange for a private van, ferry and plane to get you off of the island. I can’t imagine myself needing that yet, nor can I think of paying the $2,500 annual fee that comes with the card even if American Express would invite me to have one.

So there you have it. A quick recap of credit card concierge services. Did you even know you had access to these services? Will this change the way you travel, or shop, or make dining reservations or do you already use these services? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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