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There seems to be a “credit card war” brewing -- and the winners will be credit card customers who qualify for top tier cards.
Finance experts predicted that credit card companies would be vying for customers in 2011 and it's starting already. American Express, renowned for its customer service, rewards and extensive benefits, is leading the charge.
Amex Drops Foreign Currency Transaction Fees
In a press release, American Express announced that it will eliminate foreign currency transaction fees on Platinum and Centurion cards for U.S. consumer and small business Cardmembers.
The change is expected to go into place toward the end of March 2011, according to Amex. Currently, American Express charges 2% transaction fees on foreign transactions.
MasterCard and Visa both charge 1% transaction fees, but individual issuers of these cards often add additional transaction fees (up to an additional 3% onto transactions).
Currently, Capital One Mastercard and Visa have the lowest transaction fees -- only the standard 1 % charged by MasterCard and Visa. Now, the American Express Platinum and Centurion cards will be the only cards with absolutely no foreign transaction fees, a move designed to encourage customers to use their Amex card while traveling abroad.
Other New Benefits for Amex Users
For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Centurion card is Amex's famed “black” credit card, available by invitation only, although if you have a strong credit history, high net worth, and charge more than $250,000 per year, you can request an invitation from American Express.
Fortunately, the new American Express benefits recently introduced are also available to Platinum card customers.
$200 Airline Fee Credit
Getting tired of the airlines nickel-and-diming you on services that used to be free? American Express can help. Check a bag or enjoy an in-flight meal for free when you use your American Express Platinum or Centurion card to pay for those annoying charges -- American Express will cover the cost. Simply enroll your card and select the airlines of your choice online here. americanexpress.com/transformtravel You'll get a $200 credit per year for baggage fees, flight change fees, in-flight food or airport lounge day passes. Enroll right now for your holiday travel and your $200 allowance “re-sets” on January first so you'll have another $200 to use through all of 2011.
20% Travel Bonus
Here's a unique concept for rewards cards: Earn points when you redeem points. Use the American Express Membership Rewards Pay with Points feature to pay for all or part of your travel, and get 20% of those points credited back to you. Use it for airline tickets, hotels, cruises and vacation packages with no blackout dates or restrictions.
American Express Travel App
TripIt Pro, valued at $49/year, is now free to Platinum and Centurion card members. This mobile app makes traveling easier with real-time flight updates, an airport guide, a “seat expert,” currency exchange calculator and a travel directory of commonly-used phone numbers. About the only thing it won't do is guarantee a stress-free trip through airport security or a pleasant TSA agent.
Expanded Lounge Access
Now, free airport lounge access is open to cardholders as well as their spouse and kids or up to two non-related traveling companions. Plus, gain access to U.S. Airways clubs no matter what airline you're flying, and the Delta Sky Club or American Airlines Admirals Club lounges when you fly with those airlines. No enrollment is necessary.
These new benefits are on top of American Express's current travel benefits, which include room upgrades, 24-hour concierge service, a host of travel insurance benefits and more.