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NEWS, TIPS & BARGAINS

American Express Sets Service Fees

April 25, 1999

American Express has joined the ranks of travel agencies charging for services that used to be free, such as making airline reservations. And having an American Express card doesn't let you off the hook.

Spokeswoman Nancy Muller said the company last month finished phasing in the charges at the 150 offices it owns in the U.S. (The company also operates hundreds of affiliated offices, which set their own rates, she added.) A $10 fee is charged for airline reservations (or for refunds and reissues of plane tickets), car rentals and hotel reservations. When reservations are part of a larger travel package, however, the fees may be waived.

Muller claimed that although "occasionally, people are not happy" with the new fees, for most it has been a "non-event." Citing charges up to $25 by other agencies, she said the American Express fees are relatively low, and justified because airlines and car-rental companies have reduced agent commissions in the last few years. As for hotel bookings, she said they involve a "fair amount of work."

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