Since the American Express Platinum card comes with a $450 annual fee, and one of the main benefits of the card is the 24-hour concierge service, it only makes sense that folks will be asking whether the concierge service is useful.
Firstly, just to fully outline, American Express actually outsources its concierge service to Circles.
On the American Express website, Amex emphasizes using the concierge for activities like restaurant reservations, event planning, gift suggestions, and of course travel bookings. However, they also call out some more “unusual” examples, such as having the concierge locate a contractor to paint your house, or find a specific bracelet you had seen while shopping in a store in Greece.
Now, me, I tend to fall on the more skeptical side of the scale when it comes to this sort of thing. I’m very price and quality conscious (yes, I want to have my cake and eat it too), and I am also generally believe that if you want something done right, best to do it yourself.
Certainly for things like reservations and simple purchases, the concept of a helper, personal assistant, or concierge makes good sense to me. But finding a contractor to do work on your house? That’s a whole different story.
So the goal of this post is to look beyond American Express’ marketing material, to see what real (albeit digital) people are saying, to gain a broader picture of what to expect from American Express Concierge.
To be sure, this isn’t a particularly scientific analysis, but I do believe you’ll find the insights valuable.
Summary of the Amex Platinum Concierge Service
- The card’s biggest strength may be in restaurant and event bookings. While the Concierge definitely doesn’t come through all the time, as long as you have a contingency plan in place, there’s no downside to trying.
- Not surprisingly, for complex tasks (like vacation planning) the Platinum Concierge comes up short.
- Surprisingly, for seemingly basic tasks, like finding baby sitters and ordering flowers, there were a large number of negative comments.
GetDebit’s Method for Evaluating the Amex Platinum Concierge Program
Firstly, we relied exclusively on Flyertalk forums for our insights. We realize this may introduce its own set of biases (often complainers tend to take to the message board more than praisers, for example), but we found it overall to be the best and most efficient source of independent opinions from generally credible folks.
Secondly, we broke out the analysis into 5 categories: events, restaurants/reservations, basic tasks, complex tasks, and general comments.
Finally, we stuck to comments that had been published within the last year or so, as the quality of the program may have changed over a longer period of time.
GetDebit’s Detailed Findings Regarding the Amex Concierge Service
Amex Platinum Concierge’s Usefulness For Booking Restaurant Reservations
As the table below demonstrates, the majority of comments were focused on the ability of the Concierge to help book restaurant reservations. With 20 positive comments and only 7 negatives, overall I’d mark this as a success for the program. Here are a couple of interesting quotes:
Negative: “Asked them to try and get reservations at a few high-end restuarants in London, and was told they were all full. Got one of the girls at work to call…she got reservations at 2 of them…Makes me wonder if Amex even bothered contacting those ones at all…”
Positive: “Called concierge to see if they could help me make a reservation for Saturday night at 8pm at Tao in NYC. Tao is one of the most popular restaurants in the city, and is ALWAYS booked up all night on Saturday. Received an email at 1pm today (Friday) confirming my 8pm reservation. I’m a very happy camper.”
How Does Platinum Concierge Fare with Complex Tasks
Not surprisingly, the success ratio drops as you move to more complex tasks, such as booking complex travel itineraries, finding contractors to paint your house, etc. But still we found about a 50-50 split in positive versus negative comments. My position here is that this isn’t so good, since complex tasks also often involve higher stakes (the cost of getting a bad contractor can be pretty huge) and you probably don’t want to leave the probability of a successful outcome to a coin-flip.
Furthermore, for travel related requests, its probably better to use Amex’s Platinum Travel Services, as they are specifically set up and organized to handle these types of complex requests.
Platinum Concierge Falls Flat On Basic Tasks
Most surprising of all was the poor performance of the Platinum Concierge on such basic tasks as ordering flowers, finding a baby sitter, etc. Out of 9 comments in this area, all 9 were negative. Ouch!
Negative: “Asked Amex France for baby sitting and they provided contact details of a company who charged almost double than the other.”
The Concierge Comes Through For Events
To end on a more positive note, Amex Platinum Concierge seemed to do quite well for obtaining tickets to events, with 4 comments and 4 positive outcomes (although the number of overall comments in this area was sparse, so take this with a grain of salt).
|Type of Task||# of Positive Comments||# of Negative Comments|
|Basic tasks (gifts, flowers,babysitter)||0||9|
GetDebit’s Closing Thoughts On The American Express Platinum Concierge Service
Well, one things is for sure, there’s definitely a lot of debate in the blogosphere about whether the Amex Platinum Concierge program is worth the money ($450 per year to be exact), or in fact whether it’s any good at all. There are definitely shining examples of successes, as well as plentiful stories of abject failure.
I’d say, if you plan on using it to make reservations, then it definitely makes sense, since even if they fail, as long as you pursue alternate options in parallel, you’ve lost nothing. And there are definitely some examples of spectacular successes on this front (ditto for events).
But if you’re banking on the Amex Platinum Concierge to handle more complex tasks, I’d probably steer clear of it. Complex tasks generally take a lot of time, patience, skill and judgment to pull of (have you ever tried finding a good contractor!), and leaving that up to a complete stranger who is likely swamped with many other requests, is quite risky.