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Why Fine Hotels & Resorts is one of the best Amex Platinum benefits

One of the most useful benefits of having an American Express Platinum card – and one which genuinely helps me justify the £450 fee – is the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme.

FHR, as it is known, is a collection of 600 luxury hotels worldwide which commit to offering special benefits to American Express Platinum cardholders when you book via Amex Travel.

These special benefits vary in their usefulness, to be honest, but do add up.  They are:

Noon check-in when available (I value this at nothing!  I want it guaranteed or it is useless.)

Room upgrade on arrival when available (can be very good but not guaranteed)

Free breakfast for two people (very valuable at expensive hotels)

GUARANTEED 4pm check-out (very valuable)

Free in-room wi-fi (valuable, many luxury hotels still like to charge)

An additional benefit, usual $100 of food and beverage credit per stay

You can check out the full list of participating hotels in FHR at this special Amex website.

FHR

Where FHR really works for me is the guaranteed 4pm check-out.  If you are on a short break with an evening flight home, you really don’t want to be checking out of your hotel at noon.  Yes, the hotel will store your bag for you, but it isn’t the same as having full access to your room.

On our last trip to Four Seasons Hampshire, for example, using FHR allowed us to stay one night less and save a significant sum.  With young kids in tow, you don’t get much done in the evenings anyway so leaving at 4pm the day before doesn’t make a lot of difference compared to leaving the next morning.

The big downside of Fine Hotels & Resorts is pricing.  Rates seem to be fixed in advance for the year so it is possible that, if the hotel starts discounting, the FHR rate may be higher than the highest flexible rate on the hotel website.  That said, on a shorter stay the $100 food and drink credit usually offsets that and you still have the benefit of free breakfast, late check-out and potential upgrade.

UK Platinum members should book via travel.americanexpress.co.uk – make sure you are logged in or the FHR rates do not appear.

If you don’t have an Amex Platinum card, you can get similar benefits on luxury hotel stays by using a member of the Virtuoso group of luxury travel agents to make your booking.  I wrote more about Virtuoso in this article which ironically also references a Four Seasons Hampshire stay I booked through them.

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Comments

  1. Hey Rob,

    I love the FHR program – it has the biggest upside of any Amex card benefits. Your data is a little old though, last year FHR went over 900 hotels, and their looking to hit 975 in 2017. So not only is it a great program, it’s clearly one that Amex cares about and is expanding every year.

    Tom
    FHRNews

    • Tom! I read your emails several times a week. But having cancelled my Amex Plat, they’re just about dreams :-)

  2. With luxury travel with family one of best programmes hands down …. has saved me thousands over the last few years for things I would have paid for

  3. Four Seasons Hampshire doesn’t work with Virtuoso, only with preferred partners travel agencies which have similar benefits. I would say the travel agency was part of both programmes. Regarding FHR on Four Seasons Hotels, you would always pay the same rate as seen on the website, even if there is a promo like 3rd or 4th night free, you can still get FHR benefits.

  4. Hotels.com is also my standard backup if I don’t go via a chain direct because the loyalty benefits are better. That said I can see how the benefits mentioned for FH&R could make it a better option in certain cases.

  5. Hi,
    The rates are not fixed at the begging of the year as they are not contracted like Tour operators do. They go according to BAR – best available rate – set daily by the hotel. Therefore the cheapest flexible rate of the day would be entitled of FHR and only bookable via the platinum (or Centurion) travel service and payed with an amex platinum (or Centurion) card.
    Virtuoso (in Europe) is not as strong as FHR and in most cases the “extra credit” is 50USD
    Also this is a good article to read http://finance.yahoo.com/news/global-travel-trends-spark-expansion-151400643.html

    • Hi Simon,

      As a Virtuoso advisor in London, I can confirm that all Virtuoso hotels offer the credit of $100 – it might be listed as local currency however at around EUR 80, but the equivalent value offered is always $100.

      The main benefit of Virtuoso on top of the upgrades, breakfast, credit etc, is the personal relationships you have with an advisor and which we then have with key players at the hotels to make sure you are treated like true VIPs. And most us don’t charge a fee.

      Many thanks,
      Emyr

    • FHR rates are NOT set off BAR. The last one I booked was £50 over BAR and I have had experience of paying more and less.

      • I thought they said somewhere that you wouldn’t pay more than BAR? I managed to get them to price match the BAR once when they were above it. Have also been able to get them to call hotel and amend benefits so I got dinner for 1 for 2 nights rather than dinner for 2 on 1 night, just depends on property.

        Overall it’s a very good scheme although there’s been a bit of a move recently to offer spa credits rather than F&B, which isn’t as good.

  6. Interesting, and I can see the value in some of that . However the fact that it is one of the more valuable benefits of platinum says a lot – hard to see that this would go a long way towards justifying a £450 fee.

    I loved my platinum card when I first had it, but I really can’t see the value any more. The priority pass doesn’t work for me as it is rare I wouldn’t have lounge access anyway and when I don’t, it generally means I’m at Gatwick on an original LCC and the lounge will be full. The best hotel chain for me is IHG and platinum does nothing for that (although I do find status at Accor and club Carlson to be occasionally helpful). The insurance is good but not worth anything like 450; and I never have seen much benefit in the other stuff.

    If they did the 10k points for supp cards I would sign up again for that benefit, but unless they come up with a material new benefit (airline status ; double points earning ; no fees on foreign expenditure) I can’t see it being a card to hold.

  7. I have always wondered about the platinum £450 fee also.
    1. I often find cheaper annual travel insurance (family of 5) on the internet.
    2. PP not used often as when I travel long haul its usually business which comes with lounge access anyway.
    3. The earning rate is too low for such an expensive card.
    4. I usually book hotels direct

  8. Platinum is worth churning for the points but long term the benefits are not worth the £450 fee.

  9. Does anyone know if Amex take payment for a booking straight away? I have platinum at the moment and would like to use FHR, but by the time my booking comes around next year I think I would be churning gold again.

  10. Benjamin Dyer says:

    Fingers crossed

  11. if you book via amex platinum, you STILL get points and status. Just did a trip in LA and still got my SPG points and advantages even tho it was booked with amex.

    • Agreed. Amex sets up this deals so they always qualify for the credit which is handy.

      • I never knew this.

        So, book an spg hotel via Amex (whether it is FHR or or not) and you still get spy stay & night credit, spa points and benefits as per your status level?

        Also, by using Amex, IIRC you get double MRs for the spend as well?

        In this game, you learn something new everyday!

        • “….still get spg stay & night credit, spg points and…”

        • Yes, you get all the regular points and benefits just as if you’d booked through the hotel website in addition to FHR ones.

          • Is this correct also for non-FHR bookings (as per Camille’s question)? That is, if you book an SPG hotel via Amex Travel (even if it is not part of the FHR program), you will still get the regular points and benefits as if you had booked through the hotel website?

          • Ah sorry didn’t see non-FHR bit – generally if you pay the hotel you’re fine, however if you prepay then may not be (seems to vary).

    • Graham Scholefield says:

      This is a key piece of information!

  12. OT – sorry – but I’ve got a number of new offers on my Amex Gold card, including Eurostar again and World Duty Free. Might be of use to some.

  13. I have the gold card and thinking of upgrading if the FHR deal is good for an upcoming trip, is there a way to check the rate before i upgrade to see if it is worth it?

  14. Daft question time….I have a gold rewards card interested in the platinum like some won’t get tons of benefit out of it but I’ve looked up the hotel directory for FHR found the hotel I want to book. Question is how can I find out the price before committing £450 to see if it’s worth it?

    I assume the answer is you can’t but thought I would ask

  15. My feeling up to now is that FHR benefits are only really useful if you plan to stay in top end(read: expensive) hotels. I mostly stay in mid range hotels, e.g. Holiday Inn/Crowne Plaza. I assume FHR cannot compete on price/value with mid range?

  16. How do you go about booking something from Virtuoso?

    Any Issues in only wanting a 1 night stay?