American Express I rarely leave home with out it.
I was chatting with American Express on Twitter earlier today and started thinking about how much I love my Amex. It also got me thinking about when I opened my American Express card sixteen years ago.
I just graduated from college and I was planning a three month, backpacking trip across Europe. I was well prepared, I saved money for months, I read many travel guides, I mapped my trip to over 13 cities, purchased my "gear" and I studied currency rates, exchange rates and the best place and ways to exchange money, I was ready.
The big difference between today and 1995 is technology. Back then, we didn't use cell phones or email regularly. We had them but they were not integrated into our daily lives as they are today. We also did not go to an ATM any where in the world, put in our debit card and withdraw money, we traveled with cash, credit cards and travelers checks.
I learned from my research that my best options for exchanging money were Thomas Cook and American Express - at that time. The upside to having an American Express card was the American Express offices all over the world (and in every city I was traveling). If my memory serves me correctly, I could cash my American Express travelers checks for for free and that they also offered the best exchange rates, or at least according to the travel books I was reading at the time.
The part that really sold me was, if you were a card member, you could have items shipped to you at the American Express travel offices and they would hold the packages for card members. This was appealing because I was going to be away for three months, alone and without knowing where I was staying, it was a reassuring feeling to have an address to give my family in case I wanted something shipped to me.
In any case, that is where it started. When I finally found myself abroad, I found the American Express offices a welcoming place when I was away for so long. Shortly after I returned, I was turned onto many of the other advantages of having an Amex (like my membership rewards) and I've been a pleased card member ever since.
Disclosure: I received nothing in return for writing this post. I just really like American Express.