Concierge services have long been one of the prime benefits offered to credit card holders, but they are still one of the least understood card perks. Some people don’t feel that the service is necessary, while others are either unaware that their credit card gives them access to a concierge service or aren’t sure how the service works.
But in failing to take full advantage of the concierge services that come with their credit cards, cardholders are missing out on one of the few real value-added benefits of using an expensive credit card.
In Switzerland, concierge services are generally reserved for “platinum” credit card holders, with some issuers extending the service to “gold” card holders as well. Concierge services may also be referred to as “butler services” or “lifestyle services”.
Swisscard (American Express, Credit Suisse)
While the most exclusive dedicated concierge service is available to holders of the prestigious American Express Centurion Card, there are more accessible cards from Swisscard AECS which also deliver solid concierge services.
Swisscard collaborates with Ten Lifestyle Management Switzerland GmbH to provide a concierge service to holders of the American Express Platinum Card, American Express Gold Card, World Mastercard Platinum credit card, Credit Suisse Bonviva Platinum American Express Card and MyNAB American Express Platinum Card from Neue Aargauer Bank.
The services you receive vary depending on which card you hold, with the American Express Gold Card delivering the most basic service, and the American Express Platinum Card providing the most complete concierge benefit.
American Express Gold Card users can contact the concierge service to have specialists research flights (best offers, timetables, connections), hotel stays (best offers, services offered, check out times), conference rooms, car rentals (offers, prices, directions) and holiday home rentals. You can also get information about locations around the world, including experiences and family activities, cultural sights and upcoming events. Thanks to partnerships with many hotels and travel service providers, the concierge service can also help you get upgrades and other perks which you may not otherwise be eligible for.
Specialists can also research train and bus travel (schedules, prices, connections) both in Switzerland and internationally, find information about events in many cities around the world (ticket availability, prices), make shuttle or taxi arrangements, and connect you with interpreters.
You are under no obligation to pay for travel bookings through the concierge service or to charge bookings to your credit card. However, the concierge service can make bookings on your behalf at your request. You pay a 20-franc surcharge for each booking made through the service, in addition to the actual cost of the booking.
If you use a Credit Suisse Bonviva American Express Platinum, MyNAB American Express Platinum or a World Mastercard Platinum issued by Swisscard, you enjoy many lifestyle services in addition to the travel services mentioned above. With these cards too, consultation and research are provided free of charge, but you pay a 20-franc fee when you have the concierge make a booking or purchase for you.
The “complex concierge” service helps you locate just about any goods or services you need. Rather than spending valuable minutes or hours scouring the net for information, you can pass those tasks on to specialists who dig up the information for you. The service is very flexible and the only real limits here are legal and conventional boundaries.
Flower delivery, including arrangement consultation, is another service offered. You can also get help organizing events, with complimentary initial consultation and event manager recommendations. The concierge can also book limousine, helicopter or private jet transportation and make yacht reservations around the world.
If you primarily make use of the free information services and only make a limited amount of actual bookings or purchases through the concierge, this benefit can provide good value for money.
The American Express Platinum Card gives you all of the above services, with the difference that you do not pay a surcharge when the concierge makes bookings on your behalf. That means you can have the concierge service handle research and sort out bookings and purchases for you, and you do not pay anything extra for the service.
It is worth noting that Ten Lifestyle concierge membership providing equivalent service without booking surcharges costs £1,500 per year (more than 1900 Swiss francs). If you use the concierge service regularly, the 850-franc annual fee which you pay for the American Express Platinum Card actually works out to be a bargain, at less than half the regular cost of an annual concierge service membership.
However, eligibility requirements for getting the American Express Platinum Card in Switzerland are high. Standard eligibility requirements include an annual income of 120,000 Swiss francs, although exceptions are made. American Express Gold cards have fairly basic eligibility requirements of 35,000 francs income per year (here too exceptions are possible at the issuer's discretion).
The Credit Suisse Bonviva Platinum Amex and the NAB Platinum Amex are available as part of banking packages (compare bank packages here), and have more flexible elligibility requirements based on your overall banking relationship.
PostFinance, Viseca, Bonus Card, UBS, Topcard
Allianz Global Assistance provides concierge services for most other Swiss credit card issuers. The service is white labelled for platinum credit card customers at Postfinance, UBS, Viseca (issues platinum cards for Raiffeisen Bank, cantonal banks and Valiant Bank), Topcard (issues Baloise platinum cards), and Bonus Card (including the Visa Libertycard Plus).
The concierge service handles restaurant reservations for you, so if you want your tables on the Eiffel tower, the Statue of Liberty and the Burj Khalifa reserved ahead of a world tour, all you have to do is ask.
Hotel reservations and rental car bookings can also be made by the concierge service. You can also have them research information about events and ticket availability, and provide traffic information. Additionally, the service can help you choose gifts or flowers and organize delivery on your behalf, making it easier to show your special somebodies that you care even when time doesn’t allow you to find and send gifts yourself.
Concierge representatives are generally flexible, and can handle many more requests than those mentioned above, depending on your needs. The only clear limitations are time spent working on a task on your behalf (a maximum of two hours per task is permissable) and legal boundaries.
A major advantage of the concierge service provided by Allianz Global Assistance is that you do not pay a surcharge for each booking or purchase made. You only pay for goods and services provided by third parties such as merchants, delivery companies, rental companies and travel service providers.
Allianz Global Assistance works with its partner merchants when making bookings on your behalf, but also refers you to non-partners when requested goods or services are not available from partner merchants. That means that there may, at times, be better offers available which will not necessarily be considered unless you specifically ask for them. On the other hand, you may receive special perks or discounts from partner merchants that you would not normally be eligible for.
The cost of platinum credit cards that offer this service varies. Some are available as part of banking packages, and these can be very affordable if you do your banking at the issuing bank. The comprehensive bank package comparison on moneyland.ch makes it easy to compare platinum packages and find information on which credit cards are included in the packages. Use the “Platinum” filter to limit results to platinum banking packages.