I used it successfully for a hotel stay in the UK - they could not find it in their system at AX so had to call the hotel directly and book it that way - getting the rate I expected. Try telling AX PTS to contact the hotel directly - not sure there is a rule they have to use their system?
A lot of hotels in Vegas heavily discount their rooms via their web site via various promotions and the like. It's very possible that PTS can't see the rate you're seeing in their systems.
I used the $200 travel credit last year for flights on American, booked at the same rate that was showing on the web site. Also booked an FHR room at the same time (at roughly the same rate as showing on the web site), which ended up being under a "stay 3 nights, get the third night free" promo for FHR... so I stayed 6 nights for the price of 4, and got all the other FHR amenities (room upgrade, $100 dining credit, free breakfast).
Programs: Altitude 35K, Nexus/GE, Amex Platinum, Priority Pass, CX Marco Polo Gold, Visa Aerogold Infinite
Same thing happened to me last Dec. I found a really great price for a Las Vegas flight-hotel package on a travel website, but when I tried to book it through Amex Plat. Travel, it was almost double. I ended up using the $200 to book a AC flight, which was the same price on the airline's website and at Amex.
I have used it successsfully twice now (for 2012 and 2013.) Both times was for car rental with Avis. I first found the car and rate I was after online, then called PTS and said, "I wasn t to sue my travel credit. This is the agency, this is the car, and this is the rate quoted for these dates." On both occassions PTS came back with an even cheaper rate, and then applied the credit.
Also, on both occassions the credit posted on my account within 24 hours of booking with PTS.
Absolutely not a scam. Some hotel rates are not published, but for flights they will get same or better price than available on the web, otherwise they will just book it for you at the lowest price you found.
2012 MSY-YYZ - $2 cheaper than I could find anywhere
2013 YYZ-DCA-YYZ - Sabre was coming up more expensive so Plat booked it through AC.com for me.
In a way, the only "scam" in it is that it is their way of introducing you to PTS, which are an excellent service, amazing reps, wish they could train some of the frontline Amex crew in competence, politeness and general service levels (and yes, I still think Amex frontline service outstrips any high street bank's).
I've used the credit for both 2012 and 2013. 2012 for a CX flight and 2013 for an AC flight.
Looked on the CX/AC website and called PTS to ask specifically for the flights I wanted. Price quoted by PTS was exactly the same as the website. After booking, asked that the credit be applied and it was done! Saw the booking and credit on my online statement a few days later.
Just booked FHR bellagio for $206. So it uses up the credit. FYI you cannot use the travel credit for any travel that is less than $200. I wanted to use the credit because my renewal is coming up and i'm going to cancel.
I used my credit in 2012 on a flight - don't remember the details but the price was exactly the same as elsewhere. Last week I called to see if I could use it towards a Sunwing flight to Cuba and they said "no". Since Sunwing is a Canadian company I'm not sure why that wasn't allowed or if the information was accurate.