Premium credit cards have offered concierge service as a benefit for years. Even though I have multiple cards with $400+ annual fees, I’ve never really used this benefit. With coronavirus and hoarding, finding toilet paper, Clorox wipes, and other necessities have been difficult. After reading a recent article, I was inspired to see if these credit card concierge services were actually useful in my time of need.
Credit card benefits that aren’t used very much
Most of us focus on the welcome bonus, the ability to earn rewards, and a few select benefits. One of my favorite perks is having airport lounge access.
However, many credit cards are chock full of benefits that are never used. Heck, I bet most of us couldn’t name more than five benefits for most of our cards even though we spend hundreds of dollars (or even thousands) per year paying credit card annual fees.
For example, I wrote this article about hidden benefits of the American Express Platinum Card. Read it and see just how many benefits you aren’t using from a card that costs $550 per year now.
And I questioned whether the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is worth $450? After devaluing the Admirals Club Lounge Access, the value proposition is much worse now.
What Do Credit Card Concierge Services Do?
A credit card concierge normally operates like the concierge you’ll find at a luxury hotel. They act as a personal assistant to book reservations, locate special items, and find service providers who can meet your needs. Some of the services include:
- Dining recommendations and reservations – a concierge can often get you a reservation at a restaurant that is “full” when you call.
- Tickets and entertainment – they’re able to find hard-to-get tickets for the hottest shows.
- Arranging transportation – booking a taxi, shuttle, limo, or other transportation so you can focus on bigger tasks.
- Shopping and gifts – can assist with flower deliveries, personal shopping experiences, finding the perfect gift for your loved ones or clients.
- Travel advice and reservations – a concierge can provide travel recommendations and reservations, plus they may have access to upgrades and special amenities that you couldn’t get on your own.
- Other services – they can handle everyday requests like finding a dry cleaner, list of child-friendly restaurants, stroller rentals, or a magician for a birthday party.
Trouble Finding Toilet Paper At Local Stores
Although we normally get toilet paper, Clorox wipes, and paper towels through Amazon, our supply is quickly dwindling as we “shelter in place” according to government mandates. It seems that everyone is hoarding supplies due to the uncertainty of the virus and the supply lines can’t keep up with demand.
We’ve been to numerous local stores over the past couple of weeks and all I could find were empty shelves.
Costco is available in some markets but won’t deliver to my home address.
I tried the industrial supply website that I’ve used for business in the past. Uline won’t let you order toilet paper unless you’ve ordered from them in the past. Plus, they limit you to one toilet paper item with shipping costs of $15 from Georgia to Tennessee. So, that’s not too appealing even if it was an option.
I came across this article from Finder about using your credit card concierge to locate household supplies, and I was intrigued.
Benefits of Premium Credit Cards
I wanted to put my credit card concierges to the test. Each of these credit cards has a big annual fee of $450 or more, so they need to offer appealing benefits to justify their expense.
|American Express Bonvoy Brilliant||American Express Platinum Card||Chase Sapphire Reserve||Citi AAdvantage Executive||Citi Prestige|
Can Credit Card Concierge Services Help You Find Toilet Paper (and Other Supplies)?
Here is what happened when I called each of the premium credit cards I have.
American Express Bonvoy Brilliant
The Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express does not offer concierge services. For the same price tag, I might have to switch to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. It offers complimentary Hilton Diamond (vs. Marriott Gold), $500 in annual credits (vs. $300), and concierge access.
American Express Platinum Card
Although I was transferred to the Amex Platinum concierge very quickly, they were of no help. They said that they are unable to help with high-demand items like toilet paper and Clorox wipes. And they did not offer any alternatives to help me find them on my own.
Utterly disappointing for a card with the highest annual fee ($550) in the group.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase was, by far, the most helpful in my search for toilet paper and Clorox wipes. Although, the process to get to someone helpful took the longest.
The first call on Sunday was a failure. Due to coronavirus, the call center has reduced hours so it was closed when I called 2 pm on a Sunday.
When I called on Monday, the phone agent questioning me for several minutes before giving me a number (888-511-5326). This was the travel concierge, which is not what I needed, so I called the number on the back of my Chase Sapphire Reserve again.
The second person transferred me to the Visa Infinite concierge at 877-660-0905. The phone agent there listened to my request, then gave me a different number to call (312-800-4290).
Third time is the charm. I spoke with Mark, who needed to build a profile for me since it was my first time calling. After the profile was complete, he listened to my needs and was intent on helping me find some toilet paper.
Mark offered to go over suggestions on the phone, but I told him an email would be fine. Within 45 minutes, Mark had found a local store and then called me a few minutes later to be sure that I saw the email. Now that’s service! He even offered a second alternative in case the first didn’t work out. Yay for Mark for helping me find toilet paper!
Unfortunately, an email later in the afternoon informed me that he had struck out after calling 20 local stores on my behalf. On the bright side, though, he said that my local Kroger gets deliveries 3 times a week, so I should try visiting at 7 am when they open.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
After Citi’s automated service tried getting me to use the touch-tone service, I was able to reach a live person. The phone agent was helpful and seemed hopeful that they’d be able to find something for me by Monday afternoon.
He said that he would reply by 3 pm Eastern with the results. I think a 24-hour turnaround time is very fair under these circumstances.
When I called the number on my Citi Prestige, Citibank’s phone number tried to get me to use the automated system. That wasn’t going to help, so I persisted until I reached a live person. She said that the concierge service for the AA Exec and Prestige were the same so I didn’t need to submit a duplicate request. (She was nice about it.)
I was told that most stores are not doing guaranteed inventory searches, so Citibank concierge wouldn’t be able to help much there.
She recommended that I try the following:
- Look at online delivery sites
- Go to local stores and ask about their stocking receipt dates. Then be there the next morning when they first open.
- Amazon Prime, Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Now services
- Shipt and Instacart
- Instok.org – website that shows local store inventory
Based on the suggestions from the Citibank rep, I used the website Instok.org to search for local store inventory. Unfortunately, we got a false alarm at Walgreen’s.
Then, we took another bit of advice from the same rep. We visited our local favorite stores and asked about delivery dates. Target gets deliveries every day, so I went first thing this morning at 8 am. Sure enough, toilet paper and paper towels were there!!!
However, there were no Clorox Wipes. So the search continues.
Credit Card Concierge Results Comparison
There were mixed results across the banks I spoke with.
- American Express was quick to get someone on the phone, but they wouldn’t search and didn’t offer any suggestions.
- Chase took a long time to speak with someone. I was bounced around to three people before I was connected with Matt, who was very helpful. He emailed then called with the results because he knew that the items were in such high demand.
- Citibank promised to send results within 24 hours, but I never received them. The second person I spoke with could have killed the query. But she offered valuable suggestions that helped me locate toilet paper at my nearby Target.
|Credit Card||Time on phone||Results|
|American Express Bonvoy Brilliant||2 minutes||
Does not offer concierge
|American Express Platinum Card||5 minutes||
Cannot help with high-demand items
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||19 minute||
Emailed and called within 1 hour with two locations for toilet paper
|Citi AAdvantage Executive||7 minutes||
Performed search but no response within 24 hours
|Citi Prestige||10 minutes||
Gave valuable suggestions for how to locate toilet paper
It is disappointing that American Express was not helpful at all. Historically, they are known for having great customer service and their lack of effort was unexpected.
I appreciate Citibank being frank with me that their search might not be fruitful. Although that would have been disappointing, I liked how the phone agent walked me through some additional options and resources that helped me locate toilet paper on my own.
Chase was the most helpful. They took their time and didn’t rush me off the phone. Not only did they email results quickly, they called to make sure that I saw the email. How awesome is that? This is the kind of service that I expect from a premium credit card to warrant its huge annual fee.
The Bald Thoughts
I’m super excited about being able to find toilet paper at my local stores. It’s amazing what the little victories can do to brighten your mood. Plus, I know this will make my wife incredibly happy. Happy wife, happy life.
What has been your most unconventional use of a credit card concierge? And what resources have you tried to find toilet paper, Clorox wipes, and other household items that are scarce right now? Let us know in the comments below.