Why Credit Card Concierges Are the Most Magical Benefit You're Not Using

This perk alone makes the high annual fees much easier to swallow.

Driven by intense competition in the high-end travel market, credit card issuers including Chase, American Express, and Citibank are offering more travel rewards cards and better perks than ever, not to mention the chance to rack up points and miles, which can be redeemed for flights and hotels.

But among all the bells and whistles, one under-the-radar benefit tends to get lost in all the buzz: Free, unlimited access to a live assistant who can research trips, make reservations, and even help you find gifts for finicky in-laws. Below, we answer the most common questions about how the system operates —though the exact benefits do vary depending on which card you have, so check with your issuer—and offer ideas for how to make good use of it.

Which credit cards provide concierge services?

Among the most elite travel rewards credit cards, a few popular options are The Platinum Card from American Express, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card (a Visa Infinite card), and the Citi Prestige — a Mastercard World Elite card that was discontinued in 2021, though current cardholders can still access its perks. Note that each of these cards carries a high annual fee of $695, $550, or $495, respectively. That said, the concierges associated with these higher-cost travel rewards products also have access to exclusive preferred rates and hotel perks like complimentary breakfast and spa credits.

How exactly do credit card concierges work?

By calling the toll-free phone number on the back of your credit card, consumers can talk to an actual human being 24 hours a day and get help with booking hotels and flights, allowing them to easily overcome any frustrations related to language barriers or time crunches.

Still haven't seen Hamilton? Some concierges can secure tickets to sold-out sporting events, concerts, and theater performances, as well as VIP tables at hot restaurants. They can also locate lost items in taxis, arrange roadside towing, contest erroneous charges, and do the research for sightseeing activities or a full itinerary based on your preferences. Most concierges will also track down public parks that have restrooms, locate inexpensive long-term parking near airports, and find bookable conference rooms. Basically, you can call them any time you have a problem that needs to be solved, even while you're traveling.

How can cardholders get the best results?

Phone calls and online chats produce instant responses, but you can also use e-mail, which is searchable and captures the conversation and all the details of your request in writing. Some concierges will also send texts.

As you might expect, the more advance notice you give, the more likely you are to have your request fulfilled by the deadline; plus, concierges will be more thorough if they're given a few days to do research vs. a few hours or minutes. If need be, they can check prices and availability — and even book travel — while you're both on the phone. If you adore a particular concierge, you can try to request that person in the future (although there are no guarantees). New VIP offers are often announced via the card's e-mail newsletters, too, so it's smart to sign up if you haven't already.

Is there anything they won't do?

Concierges cannot plan an entire wedding, run errands, or procure anything illegal. And though they can often work wonders, they'll never promise access anywhere.

What are some unusual asks they've gotten?

A concierge at Ten Lifestyle Group — a company utilized by clients such as Merrill Lynch, U.S. Bank, Visa, HSBC, and American Express — once sourced a rare 18-year-old whiskey for a member and set up a match with a chess grandmaster for another. Mastercard's World and World Elite concierges found doggy daycare options for a pet owner seeking a day trip sans pooch, booked a hot-air-balloon ride for a romantic getaway, and located a tailor for a last-minute dress repair.

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