Testing the credit card concierge. There was a clear winner.

If you’re like most people, you probably throw out the big document containing perks when you get your credit card. It contains valuable details about free rental car insurance and other, often overlooked and underutilized, benefits.

Usually, Tara likes to plan our itinerary herself, but I decided to get her a little free help by using my credit card’s concierge. It’s a free benefit that allows you to shift the burden of planning to someone else. I used it once before to find some Yankees tickets, but they couldn’t find anything in my price range I didn’t already find. I ended up getting the tickets cheaper elsewhere. This time I wanted to see what they would find with less restrictions.

Here were the questions I started out with:
-What are some of the “must-see” attractions that we should tackle within our time frame?
-What street food and local dishes are recommended?
-Where should we go for a hike?
-What’s the best way to get to Seven Star Mountain by public transit? (Although I couldn’t remember the name when I called)

Then I called Chase (Visa) and the Citi Concierge:

Chase Sapphire Reserve
My first call was to Chase. After a four minute hold the agent said concierge services were handled by the Ultimate Rewards travel center. I knew it wasn’t correct, but figured it was my best shot to get to the right person. The agent there then transferred me to Visa Infinite Concierge Karen.
Chase recommended the Dragon's
Back trail

Karen was all too happy to take down the details about our trip. I thought she asked good questions to get a sense of our budget, hiking skill level and cuisine expectations. I was impressed when she quickly found the name of the volcano and thoughtfully took notes to guide the person who would ultimately be putting together our packet.

A day later I received an email with activities. I found the “must-see” list uninspiring. They linked to organized tours that were not within the budget I provided. They also didn’t discuss public transit for the volcano and instead, again, linked to an overpriced organized tour. The hiking trails however were excellent. It definitely looked like they put some thought into it and we did most of them.
Dim Sum from Fuda Dumpling

The following day I received a email from the concierge asking for more time to research the dining portion of my request. They wanted to call some of the restaurants and the time difference was delaying it. Two days later they provided an excellent list of restaurants, some of which we hadn’t come across yet, including Fuda Dumpling. More importantly they provided the dishes to try. We went to many of the restaurants and they were delicious! It was a huge time saver not only in planning the trip, but also when we were out because we weren't scrambling to find a restaurant when we got hungry.


Citi Double Cash
Handmade dumplings at
Fuda Dumpling
I then tried calling the Citi Concierge service. Unlike Chase, which uses the Visa Infinite service, Citi opts to handle its benefits internally. On my first try the system routed me to the Visa Signature Concierge.

Since I have a MasterCard, I knew this was wrong and instead asked for a benefit adviser who connected me to the right person.

John was also pleasant to talk with. He also seemed experienced at this service and also took good notes. I noticed he didn’t focus too much on budget or timing. He also didn’t toss out ideas to gauge whether we would like organized tours. At first I was concerned this might result in incomplete data, but then he mentioned he would be the one doing the research. I figured he would do preliminary work and then fine-tune the results from there.

Chase recommended the
Shilin Night Market
Unfortunately, he never replied. I spent the next two weeks calling to follow-up. One agent said he left it “in-progress." A week later they escalated it to manager Carol who sent one email with tours far outside of my budget and with none of the activities I wanted. The second email had spot-on street food, but only for Hong Kong.

I sent Carol the list of questions, again, and she responded with a list of cheaper tours, including one for $2.51. I knew the absurdly low cost couldn’t be true and after some digging I found it was actually $2.51 for the entrance to the park, but the tour was actually $81! Huge difference.

Let’s review: wrong questions, wrong budget, wrong information. I’m spending more time checking their work than they’re supposed to be saving me.
Taipei 101 with Starbucks
on Floor 35

I tried following up, but got nowhere so I just gave up.

Chase extra credit
I was so happy with the work done by Visa Infinite that I called back with a tougher question. We wanted to take the 1819 bus from Taipei-Taoyuan Airport (TPE) into the city, but were seeing mixed messages about ticketing after midnight, so I asked Chase to clarify.

At first they emailed me a link to the schedule. When I called to further explain my question, they had a Mandarin-speaking agent call Kuo-Kuang bus service to get an answer. I was impressed. Their answers put my mind at ease and made for an easy, and frugal, trip into Taipei.

Pro-tip: with hindsight I should have also asked them to make us a reservation at the Taipei 101 Starbucks. It boasts great views of the city for the price of a cup of coffee. You need to make a reservation at least a day in advance and it’s advisable to have someone who speaks Mandarin make the call.
Testing the credit card concierge. There was a clear winner. Testing the credit card concierge. There was a clear winner. Reviewed by Brandon on March 04, 2019 Rating: 5

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