It’s no secret that we’re big fans of VIP “experience” opportunities from credit card companies. Getting behind the scenes access to cool events can be as impressive as flying first class to your debit card carrying friends. We’ve written about Chase’s underrated experience offers here and here. We’ve also covered some cool SPG Moments here and here. Both of these programs offer some great value propositions to cardholders. Today I thought I’d review Amex experiences to see if they were on par with their competitors.
Amex Experiences Review
Insider/VIP access to events often means behind the scenes tours of arenas, meet and greet with performers, and food & beverage receptions. Below you’ll see a complete list of experiences Amex is offering:
If I’m being completely honest, I’m shocked about how bad these options are. First and foremost, these events are a bit of a snooze as far as I’m concerned. Second, the pricing seems a little ridiculous. It’s hard to find anything that justifies either the cash cost, or the points redemption. Typically experiences exist as a mechanism to reward loyal cardholders, I’m not seeing that here.
Amex Experiences: Really Bad Value
Let’s say for example you really wanted to do the Hudson Valley Helicopter tour above. A simple Google search finds a company willing to shuttle 3 people around the area for an hour at the cost of $300. Amex Experiences has this tour priced at $675 or a whopping 94,406 Membership Rewards points.
Next on the list of really bad values is the “Tasting Brewery and Bites Tour” in San Francisco. I’m a fan of good beer, and San Francisco is known to have some great breweries, so I thought this could be interesting. Think again. Amex is asking for $600 or 83,916 Membership Rewards points for the half day tour. Furthermore, alcohol isn’t included with your experience. That’s right, beer isn’t included on your $600 beer tour. Don’t believe me? Here’s the official details:
My guess is once you and your friends are done with this tour it would end up costing around $800. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure I could organize my own much better half-day beer tour for $800.
Bottom Line: Amex Experiences
Amex needs to take a hard look at revamping this program. They aren’t even close to being on the same level as SPG or Chase for either value or novelty. My recommendation would be to buy a luxury suite at a few big city arenas. For example, SPG has a suite at Staples Center in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden in New York. This instantly provides them with access to most big events that come to town. Amex: You’ve got to start somewhere.