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How My Amex Card Saved The Day While Traveling This Weekend

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Amex Credit Card Perks

Amex Credit Card Perks

This past weekend I took one of my oldest friends to Seattle for his 40th birthday. He wanted to check out the city, we both had never been, and catch a Mariners game to cross their baseball stadium off our list. Another first from this trip was that I finally had a reason to fly Alaska Airlines. I’ll talk about my thoughts on the airline in more detail on this week’s podcast. We ended up having a pretty great time and knocked a lot of the touristy things in Seattle in just one day on the ground. It was the trip home that got a little bumpy though, that is until Amex credit card perks saved the day.

Seattle Airport Is A Zoo

Having never flown to, or through Seattle before I didn’t know much what to expect. We landed in the evening and things were fairly busy but nothing much out of the ordinary. That is, except for the atrociously slow tram between terminals.  Because of that I didn’t think much of the outgoing flight and planned to get to the airport around 90 minutes before departure.

Well, come Sunday morning I was bit surprised how chaotic everything was. There was a line snaking around the entire terminal for the security entrance nearest our gates. So much so that they were paying a guy to hold a sign on a stick above his head to show people where the end of the line was. The only thing that compares is the chaos that is Orlando’s TSA area, which to be fair has improved the last few years. It was snaking all over the place, inside and outside of the roped lanes, that it was hard to see where you were even supposed to go.

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem for me since I have Clear, but I was traveling with a buddy that goes somewhere with me once or twice a year and that is about it. He doesn’t even have a credit card. The horror, I know!  Because of that I was left with a few untenable choices. I could have him get in the normal line and meet him at the gate after I used Clear, or I could wait in the regular line with him. Neither of those felt like a good plan to me so that is when I took a peek behind door number 3.

Amex Credit Card Perks

Amex Business Platinum Clear Credit To The Rescue

As we have discussed several times now, I have quite a few American Express Business Platinum cards this year. That means I have quite a few Clear credits to go along with those cards since you get a $189 credit for each card you have. I used a few of them for my wife and parents in order to triple dip the Uber credit promotion a little while back. Even after all of that there were still cards to spare with the credit attached. That meant I could buy a membership for my buddy and we could skip all this craziness, the perfect solution. The problem was … I didn’t have any of those cards with me.

Tracking Down My Amex Card

So I had the perfect recipe to correct our problem but I didn’t have the ingredients I needed.  My first thought was to call my wife and have her read off one of the card’s numbers to me. When she picked up she informed me she wasn’t at home and she didn’t have an Amex Platinum card on her either. She could be home in 30-40 minutes which wasn’t ideal, but would work.

I decided to reach out to some friends and see if they had any credits to spare in the mean time. They had used all of theirs or didn’t have the card on them either.  Strike two!

That is when I remembered that I had my wife text me a picture of a Platinum card months ago when a new one came in the mail. I think I needed to make a purchase with it while I was on the road and needed a photo of the card info to pull it off. I couldn’t remember which Platinum card it was though and if I had used that credit already or not. It was option at that point so I started scrolling through our old text messages. After going back several months I finally saw it, a set of pictures from early June!

Would This Card Work Though?

Now that I had the card number and all the info needed I needed to check and see if the Clear credit had ever been used. Surprisingly, the Clear credit is one of the few Amex credit card perks you don’t need to activate first. I opened up my American Express account and scrubbed the card’s charges from June until now looking for any Clear charges. I was in luck! There were no charges to be found, this card would do the trick.

Getting The Clear Green Light

I filled out my buddy’s online application and put the charge on the card and on our way to the Clear check in area we went.  He got through the sign up process at the Clear kiosks in about 3 to 4 minutes and away we went.

Amex Credit Card Perks: Final Thoughts

All in all, the entire series of events took about 20 minutes. That saved us a good hour or so of waiting in the TSA line.  It would have never happened without my Amex Business Platinum’s card perks though. There is no way my buddy would have been willing to pay $185 to get through that line quicker, unless it meant for sure we would miss our flight. Even then he wouldn’t be super happy about it.

That is the struggle we face when traveling with people that don’t do what we do. We always have a decision to make, do we suffer along side them or do we leave them in the dust? The answer could be to carry a few extra perk earning cards with you when traveling with them, just in case you need to use a tool in your tool belt. I know things would have been a lot easier had I planned ahead for this potential issue and brought my Business Platinum card with me.

Have you ever been in a similar situation with a non points and miles travel partner? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments below.

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Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. Good reminder for me, my Clear membership expires on 8 Oct, I just received a reminder to “turn on auto renew”. I never had a chance to try the Clear during my 1 year membership. Flying out of Hawaii they don’t have Clear and all of my return airport never had it but my pre-check always come thru for me at all airports. I do have MCO trip coming up in Nov so it may be my first time to try Clear. I will wait for it to expire next week just to see if they offer any retention bonus 🙂 or at least a free month since I never had a chance to use the service. I even contacted them in the pass asking if it was possible to pause the membership but they said no. Either way I’ll just wait until Nov and use my Plat card prior to departing MCO. I hope the airport is packed that day so I feel some worth put of the service, even if AMEX is paying for it.

    • Oh BTW after reading this I had to recheck my Clear benefit on my Plat cards to make sure I still had it on my non-business just personal Plat cards (I do) then I noticed at the top of the page, Centurion guess access will end on 31 Jan, wow. It now says you must spend $75k after 31 Jan to retain guess access, that’s crazy. Good thing I’m in 2 player mode and my wife has her own Plat card.

  2. Letting the “non” folks use my free parking and club passes on Hyatt point stays when they otherwise would have parked cheaper on the street/eaten elsewhere for less (if had to pay)

  3. I live in Seattle and most of the time I am through PreCheck in less than 10 mins. I last flew in early August and it was the same, but I’ve definitely heard on the news that it the last few weeks have been way worse. For those w/o precheck, there’s actually a new program where you can reserve a time to clear TSA called “SEA spot saver” see here: Since I have precheck, i’ve never used it, but for those w/o (like your friend) seems like its worth checking out.

    • Good tip on the spot saver. I guess there were a ton of cruises coming in and the lines got out into the parking garages on Sunday. Not sure it would have helped this weekend – that is nuts!

  4. Man, my sympathies. SEA is my (large) home airport. (Otherwise BLI and it ain’t much) It’s a weird and crazy place, that’s for sure. I’ve sadly had to spend time there, more than I like, for way too many times.

    Only tip I can give for SEA is if you HAVE to travel out of it, try to make it a really early flight and just suck it up by staying at one of the many (mostly so-so) nearby hotels to position for the flight.

    Hope the Mariners won the game you saw! Goin’ to the Wild Card! Woot!

    • We were hoping to go Friday night, and that would have been an amazing game, but Alaska Airlines canceled our early morning flight and moved us to an evening flight. I am still a little salty about it.


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