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Battle of the Elite Credit Card Concierges

We put a number of elite credit card concierges to the test. See how they fared.

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Battle of the Elite Credit Card Concierges
We put a number of elite credit card concierges to the test. See how they fared.
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Last week we told you about the secret best friend you never knew you had—your elite card concierge. Each elite credit card offers its own version of a premium concierge service, available 24/7, by telephone or email.

In our first elite credit card concierge test, we put in several requests with these services to compare results among top cards for an upcoming trip to New York City. Let the battle begin!

Which elite card concierges did we test?

We put in the same requests around the same time to:
• Visa Infinite® Concierge Service (Chase Sapphire Reserve and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card)
• Luxury Card Concierge™ (Mastercard® Gold Card™, Mastercard® Black Card™, and Mastercard® Titanium Card™)
• Platinum Card Concierge (The Platinum Card® from American Express).

What did we request?

For this first installment of the elite credit card concierge battle, we wrote or called each of the three elite credit card concierges with the same requests:

“I am going to New York the last week of September (September 23–29). I was wondering if you could help me with the following:

*Is it possible to secure two tickets to see Hamilton one night that week?

*Is it possible to book dinner one night at the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare and another night at Per Se?

*Do you have any suggestions on the best pizza places in the city? And best bagel places?

*I’d like to do an exciting, adrenaline-packed day trip and leave the city one day. What do you suggest?

*Are there any private tours of the Statue of Liberty?

*Do you have any partner hotels available for booking that won’t be bombarded with events for the UN General Assembly?”

The responses—and some details of the concierge experience—are below.

Luxury Card Concierge

We put in the request around 10 a.m. EST on Thursday, August 16, 2018.

Within an hour, we received an email from a concierge named Chantel asking how many would be in our party. She also asked that we “please allow 48–72 hours to gather recommendations. [She] will provide an update to [us] no later than 1p.m. on August 19, 2018.”

Around 6 p.m. on August 19, 2018, we received two solid hotel options for our stay and the perks we’d receive by booking with our Luxury Card: Gramercy Park Hotel and The James New York–SoHo. We were also told that the rest of our queries would be tended to by no later than 11 p.m. on August 22, 2018.

Around 5:30 p.m. on August 21, 2018, we received an email from Chantel regarding Hamilton tickets as well asdining and tour options.

The best options for Hamilton were Rear Mezzanine Right, Row F @ $367 each and/ or Front Mezzanine Center, Row B @ $708 each.

We were told that Per Se had availability but to “please note, Per Se only accepts reservation through their On-Line [sic] reservations system TOCK, which requires self registration [sic]. Unfortunately, [we are] not able to book this one for [us] but [we’re] happy to send the link: https://www.exploretock.com/perse/.” We were also told that “[unfortunately], Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare is fully booked through the month of September.” There was no mention of our bagel and pizza queries.

We were provided a single, solid option for the Statue of Liberty private tour with Top Dog tours. We were given options of skydiving (similar to Platinum Concierge) and climbing the Shawangunk Ridge (similar to Visa Infinite Concierge).

Bottom Line: We liked the hotel options and that the concierge listened to our request to be away from the UN General Assembly road closures and packed hotels. However, we weren’t at all impressed with the ticketing and dining results (the former of which yielded better results on StubHub through a personal search). Activities recommendations were easy to sift through, though we would have liked a few more choices.

Platinum Card Concierge

We put in the request around 1 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 16, 2018.

The Platinum Concierge team was quick to divide and conquer by splitting tasks among the different in-house teams.

We immediately spoke to a concierge named Zoe who offered several Hamilton options on the spot, the best of which was Orchestra Right @ $449 each. She asked if we’d be willing to see any other plays, our budget per ticket while researching other dates for that week, and if we were willing to buy tickets through secondary vendors.

Within four hours we heard from another concierge named Jennifer F. who had more follow-up questions, such as:

• Can you confirm the party size for your dining reservations?
• What phone number can we release to secure a reservation?
• Regarding Brooklyn Fare, what time are you looking to dine?
• Are there any allergies or dietary restrictions in your party?
• What type of activities are you interested in for the day outside the city?
• How far outside the city are you looking to travel?

Also, we were told that hotels were handled through a separate Travel Department and we’d need to call Platinum Travel Service directly for all air, lodging, and car requests (and to note that they do not have a general email address).

We provided answers on Friday, August 17, 2018, at 8:10 a.m. EST. By noon, we received a call from Katie L. asking for credit card details to secure dining reservations. By 2 p.m. EST, Katie L. had followed up with more details on the dining reservations: Per Se could be secured and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare “may be limited to opportunities at this time but [they] would be happy to work toward something.” By 5 p.m. EST, another concierge, Dylan B., wrote that Katie L. would continue to work on our dining reservations and that the rest of the requests would be tended to by no later than Tuesday, August 21, 2018, at 9 p.m. EST.

By 2 p.m. EST on August 21, 2018, we received an email from Duncan T. with a detailed, 12-page PDF document with recommendations of nine bagel places and ten pizza joints, adventurous day trip activities (skydiving, zip-lining, hand-gliding, Jet Skiing, and shark diving), and three different private tours to visit the Statue of Liberty (all through Viator and including the Top Dog Tour as mentioned by Luxury Card Concierge).

Bottom line: This credit card concierge service is well connected and asks all the right questions, but there are many hands in this concierge cookie jar. In some instances it seems to work: Someone was immediately on the Hamilton tickets situation and someone else was dedicated to the dining reservations. But the fact that we had to contact a different department for hotels was a bit frustrating. There were a lot of phone calls involved, which may not appeal to everybody, especially those who prefer nonverbal communications. The recommendation results we received were thorough albeit encyclopedic.

Visa Infinite® Concierge Service

We put in the request around 11 a.m. EST on Thursday, August 16, 2018.

We immediately received a confirmation email of the request from a dedicated concierge named Andrea W.

Within minutes Andrea W. emailed us that the dining team was working on the dining requests.

Within 15 hours we had a well-organized, clear, and concise PDF document of pizza and bagel and recommendations, available times at Per Se, and a confirmation that the dining team was working on securing a reservation at the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare.

Within 22 hours we had another well-organized, concise PDF document. It contained basic details on four day trips and a private tour of the Statue of Liberty (with Top Dog Tours, the same as Luxury Card Concierge and Platinum Card Concierge). It had three hotel recommendations: Greenwich Hotel as the main suggestion, and The Langham and W New York Times Square as bac-ups. It also detailed options for Hamilton tickets, the best of which was Orchestra Center, Row M @ $473.10 each.

Within 33 hours, we received information on the final missing element. Reservations for our desired dates at the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare would open on August 20, 2018, and the concierge would work to secure either counter or table seating on our requested dates.

Bottom line: Overall, the service was speedy and pretty efficient. We loved that we didn’t have to think much or talk much (results were conveyed over email since it’s our favored method of communication versus telephone). We were very happy with our ticket and dining results. However, the hotel suggestions didn’t seem completely thought out (the two backups were in the middle of the UN General Assembly chaos, which we wanted to avoid) and activities suggestions were a bit brief and prompted us to do quite a bit more research on our own.

Final thoughts

We’ve heard of stories of these concierge services jumping through hoops for credit card members and even being more like personal assistants, but that didn’t seem to be the case for us. Perhaps it was too many questions at once for too many departments to handle.

We think the service would work better for single requests like just the Hamilton tickets OR a single dining reservation. We feel we could have done the same activity research ourselves by scrolling through Viator, Expedia, or TripAdvisor or even Google searches.

Let’s just say this battle was not one for the history books.

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 125 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, Private Clubs, and Robb Report.