What’s The Best Credit Card Concierge In A Bind?

Originally, I wasn’t going to write a blog post about this as I did not think it was that exciting, but since @FarEastExplorer asked for details, I am sharing you the story.

In the last 6 months, I’ve met some amazing people from my day job. There’s no better satisfaction than being able to connect with them to talk about credit card points, manufactured spending, and travel. It just so happened that one friend was coming up to New York City from Dallas for Memorial Day weekend and celebrating his fourth anniversary with his wife.

The Task

I asked him what his weekend plans were and what he planned to do to celebrate the anniversary. He explained to me that he wasn’t able to secure a reservation to Eleven Madison for the Saturday. Me being me trying to be helpful I asked him if he’d like me to use the credit card concierge benefit to lock down a reservation. During breakfast, I quickly shot off this email to the American Express concierge:


I’d like to set up a reservation to Eleven Madison in NYC for 2 people Saturday night, May 28, around 5 to 6 pm.

Please let me know if you can secure this reservation as it would be for a wedding anniversary

Thank you very much

I got the standard automated message acknowledging receipt and I would hear back in 8 hours. I felt very good that the American Express concierge team would be able to lock down the reservation.

The Reservations

Eleven Madison Park is a Danny Meyer restaurant belonging to the Relais & Chateaux group and allows you to book reservations 28 days in advance. As you can see when I queried OpenTable for a 5:00 PM time slot it was booked. You will have to take my word for it, but the entire day of May 28 was completely booked for May 28.


The next available time slot for 5 to 6 was this:


Yes, you’re seeing June!

The Back Up Plan Comes Through

At 2:48 PM, I called Citi’s concierge and gave them two requests. One for a hotel that I plan to stay for the fourth night free benefit and the reservation request. Jessie took my requirements and I let her know I had a conference call at 3 PM and that I would like to have everything done over email. After we wrapped up the call, I was at my desk at 3 PM and she called me back and I was about to let it go to voicemail, but I answered it. She let me know it was a recorded line and that she wanted to confirm making the reservation and that they needed a credit card number to confirm the booking. Just like that it was complete and she told me that the reservation was complete and I will receive email confirmation.

I want to stress that our first call lasted 7 minutes and a few minutes was wasted to connect to the concierge service and navigating the automated phone tree.


We wrapped up at 2:55. Literally 5 minutes later, she was able to secure the reservation.


AMEX To The Rescue?

After my conference call ended, at 3:50 PM American Express gave me a call. She too announced she was on a recorded line and I was ready to tell her that I no longer needed to make the reservation. Before I could even say anything she profusely apologized how she was not able to lock down a reservation. I really appreciated the fact that she did some homework on Eleven Madison. Kudos to her. She offered all kinds of options like checking again the next day because it would have fallen right outside the 48 hour window to drop a reservation. If you drop the reservation within 48 hours of your reservation, Eleven Madison charge your credit card $165 per person for the no-show. I thanked her and said it wasn’t necessary and she wished that I have a good anniversary as we concluded the call.

I did not have the heart to tell her that the Citi concierge came through, but in hindsight I should have so they can improve their product.

Possible Isolated Incident And Why Citi Won By A Mile

This event was very surprising to me. Maybe Citi was able to lock down the reservation because something opened up just like AMEX suggested and it was perfect timing? Who knows, but we as a community should play around with this and gather more data and see which concierge really is better. Or maybe it really is better because of booking through Aspire like Gary covered.

I think Citi killed it in the service because of how fast they were able to turn it around and be able to fulfill something that seemed like it was not possible. The jury is still out whether or not American Express concierge is better than Citi.

What other tough things that the concierges have done for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


19 comments… add one
  • This month , I used Citi concierge service to
    Book the intercontinental hotel in san juan, pr
    To get the 4th night free. They secure a suite
    That usually goes for $800 a night, for $350
    A night and i got the 4th night free. There
    Service is great and always use them for
    Hotel and restaurant reservation that are
    Hard to secure.

  • Thanks! I’m still a rookie when it comes to this service so just tying to figure stuff out, mainly through others’ experiences. Glad to see there is another option for making reservations before giving up.

    • You’re welcome, I use the concierge more as my virtual assistant than for reservations. This was my first time trying that out

  • Being a NYC local I’d have to say EMP is about as touristy as you can get. They have a hot dog stand outside the restaurant where you receive parting gifts and take pictures with the dude, lol!

    Better for out of towners I guess…

    • A friend of mine from NYC tried it out and loved it, guess we’ll have to try it out?

  • Just by the way, 11 Madison Park hasn’t been a Danny Meyer restaurant for many years. We got a booking through AMEX Concierge in one phone call but I don’t think I have any other concierge cards. Aren’t they all pricey? How many $400USD fees is worthwhile?

    • Thanks ira, I will correct that. I forgot about it being sold a few years back.

      Yes, they’re all quite pricey. I haven’t figured out which card to drop yet, but one of them will go. But I plan to play with them a little bit more before I do that.

  • I once tried to use citi prestige for a last minute booking at a restaurant in Paris but they were unable to get anything. I figured it was worth a shot to call the hotel concierge at PH vendome where I was staying and not only did they get a booking for the time I wanted they even got me preferred seating with a view.

  • I recently used both the AMEX plat and Chase Ritz for some research. I’m moving (countries) for a while and need to bring my dog. There was no direct flights where I was going, but I could go to another airport that’s a few hour drive away. Needed to figure out how to get from A to B, with just me, lots of luggage, dog and crate.

    I called AMEX and explained my problem and what I had already done. Rental is an option but I’d rather not drive 3 hours, in unfamiliar countryside, after an 11 hour flight. Uber and taxi were a bit too expensive. Train was an option (pets were allowed) but no way I could handle all of the stuff on my own. So, I said find me a porter service to get me and my stuff from airport to train, and another one to get me through the train transfer (no direct train either). Or, anything else you can think of, they said no problem.

    Called JP Morgan right after, same request.

    A couple days later JP Morgan got back to me with a perfect solution. A pet chauffeur service designed specifically for what I needed. They take you, your luggage, and your pet from the airport to wherever you want.

    A few days after that AMEX gets back to me, with information about what vaccines I need to get my dog (already knew that, it was easily listed on the website). Nothing about my actual request.

    I had also asked AMEX for one of their city guides, specified the city and surrounding area, with a focus on restaurants and family friendly attractions. I got back a 16 page document about the entire country, that said less than even wikipedia had for it.

    Plans changed slightly since I put in the request, so actually no longer need the information but… very disappointing service from AMEX. JP Morgan came through though.

    • JP Chase is the best.
      I have Amex Plat, Citi Prestige, and Ritz. I booked an international award tix and only JP Chase was able to help me get an infant added to the tix. The other two just blah. That is the main reason I decided to keep my Ritz account.

      • Thanks for sharing your story Joe

        Danh that’s a great data point because with AMEX concierge as soon as you talk about any travel requests, they shut down and want you to go straight to their travel agents

  • I wanted reservations at the end of a cruise in Barcelona for a group of 8 of us at a restaurant named TICKETS. They had a web only booking calendar where you can only make reservations inside of 60 days of the desired date for a maximum of 6 people. On the 59th day prior (ok, a bit late) they were booked on all three dates of our window of opportunity. Of course I called. Politely but firmly, they would not make room nor budge from the max of 6. I called the VISA concierge courtesy of Visa Signature benefits of my CSP. I had my reservations for 8 within 48 hours. I’m a firm believer of this benefit no matter who’s better. The HUCA rule applies here too. If they didn’t work I would have tried AmEx or MC.

    • I’ll have to try out the Visa concierge some more. I asked them to do a few things in the past and they weren’t bad!

  • Thanks, I have never thought to use the concierge service that is included with some of my cards. Will add it to my possibilities.

  • Took a month, but Chase Ritz was able to get a Sun. evening reserv. at French Laundry (they have a dedicated caller as soon as the lines open)


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