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Picture this: You’re taking your wife on a weekend getaway to a gorgeous hotel in the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts collection.
You leave your house early, arriving in time for a noon check-in. The front desk staffer smiles and says you’ve been upgraded to a plusher room. He notes you’ll also get free breakfast for two each day and a $100 credit to use at the spa. You don’t have to check out until 4 p.m. either.
Your wife is floored — how did you snag all these extra perks? You must have had to jump through a lot of hoops. Now it’s your turn to smile, because you know it was as easy as making any other hotel reservation. (But she doesn’t have to know that!)
Here’s how you can get that same VIP treatment at more than 1,000 properties across the globe — just by booking with The Platinum Card® from American Express.
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) is a collection of luxurious properties spanning 500 cities around the world.
Amex reportedly curates this collection by hand, and even sends undercover employees to make sure each property is up to snuff. In other words, these are some of the best accommodations in the biz.
When you 1) have an American Express Centurion or Platinum card, 2) book a stay at one of these lavish properties through the Amex FHR site or amextravel.com, and 3) travel on the reservation as a cardholder, you’ll be eligible for a generous selection of perks, including:
According to American Express, these perks average out to a value of $550 over a two-night stay.
And at certain properties, you can sweeten the deal with special offers, such as a complimentary third, fourth, or fifth night — which can significantly increase the value of booking through FHR. (Just note you’ll need to pay taxes and fees on any free nights.)
Let’s get one thing clear: You’re not going to be pinching pennies by staying at one of the FHR hotels. We are, after all, talking about the “Fine” Hotels & Resorts collection, not the “average” collection.
So be aware that most of the hotels run $300 per night and up — way up. That said, there are exceptions, especially in a destination’s off season, so it never hurts to look.
If you’re on the hunt for budget-friendly options, Amex’s “The Hotel Collection” might be a better fit. Available to Platinum cardholders, as well as those with the American Express® Gold Card and American Express® Business Gold Card, it features a range of hotels around the world — many at a lower price point than those included with FHR. When booking stays of two nights or more through The Hotel Collection, you’ll receive a free upgrade, when available, plus a $100 resort credit. We dive into this program in further detail below.
Also keep in mind that Amex’s FHR website doesn’t always offer the cheapest nightly rates. Even if you pay slightly more to book with FHR, however, most cardholders find that the perks more than outweigh the additional cost. Still, it’s always a good idea to comparison shop before making a booking.
Lastly, the FHR website doesn’t include taxes and fees in its initial room rates, which can lead to an unpleasant surprise when you’re finalizing your booking. As many other travel sites do include taxes and fees in their advertised rates, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when shopping around.
Ready to book a stay through Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts? Here’s how to squeeze the most value out of it.
If you use your Platinum card to book and pre-pay for your stay at amextravel.com, you’ll earn 5X Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend. Even better, unlike other prepaid bookings, FHR reservations are reportedly refundable, as long as you’re within the cancellation window.
Want to snag two “special amenity” credits in a single weekend? While you won’t get an additional credit if you check in, out, and then back in to the same hotel within 24 hours, you can get multiple credits by making your bookings on multiple cards.
For example, you could book Friday night on your card, and your partner could book Saturday night on his card. Though you’ll probably have to switch rooms, we bet that additional $100 credit will be worth the hassle.
Alternatively, if you only have access to one Amex Platinum card, you could maximize your credits by spending one night at one hotel, then moving to a different hotel the next night — and grabbing an additional $100 credit.
Make sure you choose a hotel with an offer that appeals to you. A $100 spa credit, for example, is worth nothing if you don’t use it or can’t get a reservation. In our opinion, restaurant credits are the most valuable, since we’ve all gotta eat!
If you’re traveling with a group, you can book up to three rooms on a single card. Each room will be eligible for its own set of FHR credits. (Cha-ching!)
And, if you’ll need more than three rooms — or won’t be traveling with the reservation — don’t forget the Amex Platinum allows you to add up to three authorized users for a total of $175 per year.
In days of yore, booking through amextravel.com meant you wouldn’t earn hotel loyalty points on your stay.
But those days are gone. Now, when you prepay through Amex Travel, you’ll earn 5X points/dollar on your spend — as well as points in your chosen hotel’s loyalty program. If you have elite status at that hotel chain, you should be eligible for those benefits, too.
According to Amex’s terms and conditions, if a property includes “the cost of Wi-Fi in a mandatory resort fee, the Card Member will receive a daily credit from the Property in the standard amount that the Property charges for Wi-Fi.” You should see the credit on your final bill when you check out — if you don’t, make sure to inquire.
Sure, you can book your stay with Membership Rewards points instead of cash, but it isn’t worth it.
Not only will your MR points only be worth a measly 1 cent each, but you’ll be missing out on the 5X points/dollar you’d earn by paying with your Platinum card.
As a Platinum cardholder, you have access to both an American Express travel concierge and a “lifestyle counselor” who can help you with questions about your reservation, as well as assist with transportation options, restaurant recommendations, and so on.
While not exclusive to customers booking through FHR, it’s a good perk to be aware of. Some people, for example, have reported getting an even earlier early check-in (like 10 a.m.!) by asking the Amex concierge to call the FHR property on their behalf.
Whether or not you should book with FHR is a personal call. While the nightly rates are sometimes more expensive, you will get some killer perks (and will also earn 5X points/dollar).
To help illustrate the point, we compared prices for hotels in several cities for an upcoming weekend stay. The following rates are for two nights for two people, including taxes and fees.
|Property||Hotel Website Rate||FHR Rate||Difference|
|The Plaza (NYC)||$1,839||$1,739||-$100|
|Four Seasons Hotel Bogota||$718||$614||-$104|
|The St. Regis Hong Kong||$1,124||$1,302||+$178|
As you can see, your results will vary. In some cases, you’ll pay more to book through Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts; in other cases, you’ll pay less. So you should always shop around, and only book through FHR if the elite-like benefits make up for the difference in cost.
Still can’t decide if booking with Amex FHR is right for you? Here are a few scenarios in which it might make sense:
Only three cards have access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. One is the Centurion card, aka the famous Amex Black card, that’s so exclusive you can’t even apply for it.
For us mortals, there are two options: the personal and business versions of the Platinum card.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
The Platinum card is a fantastic all-around travel card. Its airport lounge access is unparalleled, and its hefty annual fee is offset by a raft of credits, including $200 on airline fees and up to $200 on Uber each year. While we couldn’t call the FHR benefit a reason to get the card — unless you find yourself at luxury hotels every month — it is certainly a nice perk.
Review of The Platinum Card® from American Express: Is It Worth the $550 Annual Fee?
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
Like its personal version, the Amex Platinum Business card is a great option for jetsetters. You’ll earn additional points on purchases over $5,000, as well as a generous 35% point bonus when redeeming Membership Rewards points for flights. (Here’s how to apply for a business card, even if you don’t think you qualify.)
You may have seen The Hotel Collection mentioned among your American Express card’s benefits and wondered how it differs from FHR.
Basically, The Hotel Collection is Fine Hotels & Resorts for the rest of us. Because its inventory is less exclusive, it has more options that are affordable and accessible to everyday cardholders.
On an upcoming weekend in San Diego, for example, the cheapest property on the Fine Hotels & Resorts website was the Fairmont Grand del Mar at $1,195/night; on The Hotel Collection website, it was the Loews Coronado Bay for $485/night.
So, while FHR might get more attention, The Hotel Collection can be a really valuable benefit for those of us with less extravagant tastes (or, at least, less extravagant bank accounts).
The perks of booking with The Hotel Collection are pretty good, too. On stays of two nights or more, you’ll receive a $100 property credit toward qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities, plus a room upgrade at check-in, if available.
You’ll need to book through The Hotel Collection site or amextravel.com — and, as with FHR, it’s best to pay with your card rather than points so you can earn 2X points/dollar with the Gold cards and 5X points/dollar with the Platinums. To qualify for The Hotel Collection’s benefits, you must travel on the booked itinerary and pay for the stay with your eligible American Express card.
Cards with this benefit:
As a Platinum cardholder, you’ll have access to both FHR and The Hotel Collection. So before heading out on a trip, check both sites to scope all your options.
Here’s another alternative to FHR for you — only this time it’s from a totally different card issuer: the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection from Chase.
Like Amex’s FHR, Chase’s LHRC is geared toward high-end travelers, and many of its hotels are quite extraordinary.
Its benefits include:
When compared to Amex’s FHRC, the two big drawbacks of Chase’s LHRC are that it doesn’t include any complimentary third/fourth/fifth night offers, and that late checkout is based upon availability (rather than being guaranteed).
If you’re interested in learning more, here’s our guide to Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. (You can also learn why I generally prefer the Chase Sapphire Reserve over the Amex Platinum.)
Cards with this benefit include:
If you like the finer things in life, the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program is a great way to get a little more bang for your buck when booking luxury stays.
But you’ll still need to pay a lot of buck to begin with. While the FHR benefit could be worth several hundred dollars over the course of a weekend, your nightly room rate will likely be between $300 and $1,000.
So make sure you ask yourself if you’re getting adequate value from each booking (and if the answer’s yes, then enjoy getting pampered!).
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, please click here.
When you have an Amex Platinum card and book properties in its Fine Hotels & Resorts collection, you’ll get access to a valuable range of elite-style perks. If you’re on a budget, however, The Hotel Collection might be a better fit.
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