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Planning a vacation soon? Then you have plenty of options for booking your trip. You can work with a traditional travel agent, booking flights, reserving hotel rooms and ordering tickets to top attractions with a real, live person working in a real, live office.
If you'd prefer to go the virtual route, you have plenty of choices. Sites such as Expedia and Travelocity allow you to book everything from cruise lines to hotels to flights and rental cars from their online homes.
But if you own an American Express card, you have one more option for booking your next vacation: You can reserve your flights, hotel rooms or cruises directly through American Express' travel site.
The question is: Are there any benefits to going with American Express over commercial travel sites or your local travel agent? Which method lets you save more money?
Additional Rewards Points
The biggest benefit to booking your travel through the American Express travel site comes in the form of additional rewards points.
If you hold an American Express rewards card, you'll earn double rewards points for every dollar that you spend while booking flights, hotels, vacation packages or cruises through the American Airlines travel site.
You can then redeem these points for a wide variety of merchandise, gift cards or free airline miles.
Paying For Your Vacation With Amex Rewards Points
The American Express travel site also allows you to pay for all or part of your vacation plans with the rewards points that you've already earned. You might have enough points, for instance, to earn a free hotel room in your destination city. Maybe you've earned even more points and can book a free flight to a domestic or international location.
By booking through American Express' online travel site, you have the option to use as many or as few of your rewards points to pay for your vacation plans.
Tons of Discounts!
American Express offers a host of discounted hotel stays, vacation packages and cruise packages to its members. And you can access these through the card provider's online travel site.
During a recent visit, the site offered 100 hotel rooms -- both international and domestic -- for less than $100 a night. This included the AmericInn Hotel & Suites at Cadillac Jack's Gaming Resort in South Dakota and $79 at the Charleston House in Charleston, W. Va.
Those hoping for a more international vacation can find a room at the Beijing Zhong An Hotel in Beijing, China, for just $28 a night; or one at the Holiday Inn Express Temple of Heaven, also in Beijing, for just $55 a night.
American Express was also offering a complimentary resort stay of up to seven nights for consumers who booked cruises of seven days or longer valued at $995 or more per person.
The Bottom Line
There are definite advantages to booking a trip through American Express' online travel site. But remember, there are advantages to working with a traditional travel agent and sites such as Travelocity, too.
A travel agent might be able to recommend an out-of-the-way destination that doesn't show up prominently on American Express' site or on commercial sites such as Kayak.
Commercial travel sites might offer a wider choice of hotels or cruises than does American Express' online site.
You'll have to weigh the pros and cons of each approach.
Remember, though, that if you do own an American Express card, you have one more way to save money while booking your next vacation.