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

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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 occasional trips to Four Seasons Hampshire, for example, using FHR allows 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.

Another situation where FHR really comes into its own is on one night stays.  Let’s imagine you’re paying £150 for a standard room at a city hotel via FHR.  You will get free breakfast AND $100 of food and beverage credit AND a guaranteed 4pm check-out AND a potential upgrade.  Your upgrade chances are improved on a one-night stay too as the hotel doesn’t need to have a better room available for multiple nights.  You can clearly see how you can get real value here.

The big downside of Fine Hotels & Resorts is pricing.  Rates seem to be fixed in advance 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.  I have also had occasions where the FHR rate has been lower than the online rate though.

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.  Emyr Thomas, our hotel booking partner, can access these deals – you can read more about Emyr’s services here.  The key differential is late check-out – Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts guarantees this, whilst Virtuoso does not – and pricing, as Virtuoso guarantees that you pay no more than the Best Flexible Rate shown on the hotels’s own website.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Completely agree with you on the 4pm checkout – it is the best perk of FHR. However, you always get better treatment as a guest by going through their own preferred partner programme with a travel agent. I’ve never had a travel agent that couldn’t successfully negotiate a 4pm checkout. Also, the problem with forcing a 4pm checkout through FHR is it will often preclude you from the spectacular 5 or 6 category upgrades that come along now and again. I find the best way to leverage a 4pm checkout is just to tell the property you can book it through FHR if they are unable to provide it through the preferred partner route – always seems to work. But again, this will most likely preclude you from large upgrades.

  2. What other perks are with Platinum apart from lounge passes and hotel status?

    My colleague said the travel insurance is excellent with Amex paying out flights from their US holiday to India after her husband (main card holder) parent had passed away (they also booked via plat card so thats a prerequisite)

    She also says she gets loads of offers

    Also, is the earning miles per £ same as Golf Prefferred?
    Anyone had any insurance experience?

    • I think most travel insurances would refund flights in this circumstance – you really need to read the policy if you want to be sure what events are covered

      Offers seem to be related to how you use the card

      Gold gets triple MR on Amex Travel, double MR on transactions directly with airlines and double MR on overseas spend (only worth it if someone else is paying you back in GBP)

    • Check out Rob’s review of the card via the “best credit card deals” article above.

    • My son and daughter used the Gap year travel insurance offered with Plat. I valued this at almost the total cost of the card.

    • Genghis says:

      – for plat insurance just need to pay on an Amex used Amex for all benefits (specifically the inconvenience insurance).
      – plat earn rate is 1 MR/£ whereas Gold is same + double for FX transactions (great if someone else is paying) and 10k for £15k anniversary bonus. In short, ongoing spend rate on the plat is poor IMO.

      • Andrew M says:

        For the car hire insurance, is there a need to have paid for the car hire with an Amex? I thought not. Thanks.

      • That depends what you class as a “benefit”; certain elements of the insurance apply regardless of whether the card was used for payment – possibly the most important example being medical cover.

      • Is this correct Genghis? I recently had a trip to the States where my flight was delayed due to weather more than 13 hours. I looked at the Amex Platinum conditions and my understanding was I could only claim inconvenience / travel delay if I’d paid with the Plat, which I hadn’t as I’d used my BA Amex to meet spend threshold.

        Can you please confirm whether I can claim on the Plat.

        • The T&Cs have always been clear on this point, Robman – any Amex-issued Amex is fine.

        • Andrew M says:

          I believe any Amex issued Amex will do, though I’m willing to be corrected on that. I recently claimed for a mobile phone lost in Panama City. I made the claim by phone and the agent asked if I had booked the trip with Amex. I confirmed that I had and he didn’t ask any further details of the card,

        • Genghis says:

          @Robman. Alan is correct. Follow the T&C definitions through.

    • Be aware that the insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions and you can’t pay a top-up to have them covered.

      If you are healthy then its probably a good deal. If you have Pre-exisiting conditions then its worthless (unless, like Rob, you are prepared to not have your conditions covered by the insurance – which seems pointless to me – but each to their own)

      • Lady London says:

        Yes the coverage was much better. It seemed to change when Amex moved the underlying insurance to Axa. TBH I always look closely at the small print of any policy these days when I find Axa is the underwriter. There are actually very few policies sold for travel insurance that are actually different from each other. It’s the underwriter that decides based on the t’s an c’s if you get paid out. So I actually don’t look just at the brand name I look at the underwriter first and then the detail of the t’s and c’s. Axa is amber for me. Others are green.

    • Used the insurance when I was involved in an accidental fall in America. Nothing severe, but I didn’t have to pay a penny. I’d imagine if I was an uninsured American the ambulance ride and X rays alone would’ve cost a month’s salary.

      We also used the auto insurance in Iceland. There was damage on one side from what apparently was another car scraping up against when they parked, possibly at one of the glaciers we drove to go see. Hertz estimated about £2,000 in damage and the Amex insurance covered it.

      Another occasion with a missed flight connection due to late incoming aircraft but no available flight until the next day, Amex fully covered hotel, car rental and food per diem for staying in Phoenix, Arizona overnight until the next flight out.

      We’ve had our Amex Plat for about 4 years and those occasions have made it very worth having. The insurance cover is very good and really does give so much peace of mind, particularly if you travel more than a few times a year.

      My husband and I have to travel to America twice annually, so the health insurance cover is especially valuable, given the awful and obscenely expensive system they have there.

  3. My recommendation is call the hotel directly, speak to conferencing and events office if they have one, and try to negotiate your own deal. It is hit and miss, I have had more failures than successes but sometimes it is enormously rewarding. My favourite is a Hilton I can often get for £50 when the going rate is typically £180+. Stays remain qualifying, status is recognised and I usually get a deal on dinner too.

    • Care to share any good properties which are amenable to this? Is it more likely to work if you’re a regular guest?

      • Sorry John, I need these stays and I am not going to spoil my own party. Just wanted to say that for the few minutes it takes, it is sometimes worth calling hotel first. I don’t think these cheaper rates when available are reserved for regular customers. For the example I mentioned, I have never seen the hotel fully booked or without reward rooms available, I am also guessing that conferencing and events may be motivated by targets which see them happy to offer very cheap rates at times.

        • Always book through the hotels own systems, even better try phoning – yes that’s right, crazy as it may seem you can use your iPhone and speak to a human being and get a better deal, the personal touch has always worked for me even in the best hotels.
          It’s well known that if hotels, either large or small, are using OTAs i.e. Booking.com the price on the OTA site is usually always higher. This is to compensate for the huge commission they all charge, the hassle of many more frequent cancellations and usually their non ability to claim the VAT back as the OTAs are often based in the EU and like other huge companies avoid UK taxes.
          Always book through the hotels own systems or even better phone, the personal touch goes so much further.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          That’s a basic rule of buying almost anything. Prices are negotiable. British people are often reluctant to haggle, though. (Don’t be aggressive about it. Just politely ask “Can you offer me a discount?”. The answer will often be no, but it will also often be yes.)

        • Replying to Marc below about VAT, European companies, avoidance of tax: you really do have no clue what you are talking about.

    • Lady London says:

      nice one BJ.

  4. One of the big downsides for me with these schemes is you can’t click through the c/back sites, so missing out on 10% or sometimes even more in return.

    • Lady London says:

      In the luxury hotel market the true luxury traveller generally puts higher value on not having everything “metered” and knowing they are guaranteed a high quality experience and have what they want while they are there. The middle and budget market/customers are more about chiselling on price.

      Personally it’s folly. If you’ve got the money to afford a true luxury hotel in the first place – and sadly a number of high priced hotels are not true luxury hotels the the value of such benefits as Amex or Virtuoso or similar can achieve for you will improve your stay by multiples of that paltry 10% you might save by working through any other price optimisation mechanism than these or if really quiet season then having your PA or business manager call the hotel direct to ask are there any benefits they could offer to improve your stay (and not chiselling on the price).

      Same as for business travel, when asked to produce a business travel procurement strategy in the past I have advised my clients that for their employees to arrive ready for work they should pay for J but work on the key route deals they need and getting the best “extras” package from the airline within the price they must pay for that anyway.

      btw I’d compare British Airways Club or First to those hotels that charge a premium price, but are not always true luxury hotels.

      • Fair enough if price was no consideration then I would definitely use FHR etc more. If only I had a PA and was writing company travel strategies!

        • Just compared a hotel in Ho Chi Min for a holiday next year on FHR to Trivago, same price but with the FHR benefits as described in the article. This isn’t always the case but I always check and the benefits can very often outway the difference.

          Virtuoso can be better, but not always.

        • Lady London says:

          @Darren timing is very important when looking for discounts . If you’re looking this far ahead for next year the hotel is probably still hopeful of filling their rooms at rack rate. So that’s all you’ll see – the best price they know they ever hope to achieve for that room.

          You need to work out for each industry/partner how far ahead of booking date, is the hotel likely to take a look at forward reservations and decide they won’t fill the next “layer” of rooms unless they do a promotion or permit a bit of official or turn a blind eye to unofficial discounting. For car hire it’s 3 weeks ahead in the places I hire. Hotels I’m not an expert in but more than a few months ahead and you are quite possibly looking at rack rate till the hotel makes up their mind to adjust pricing.

          If the time you want to visit is peak time in the place you’re visiting or peak time for their regular clientele (who may be German holidaymakers rather than British, for example) then all bets are off. In that case I’d suggest best strategy is to grab what you can as far ahead as you can but make sure it’s flexible. Then keep watching in case later better offers appear nearer the time. Switch to something inflexible if it’s better priced only when you are certain you’ve got a deal you can live with.

  5. A preference relation that assigns positive value to a guaranteed benefit but zero value to an uncertain benefit is dubious. (Your preferences vioate the reasonable axiom of continuity.)

    • you beat me to it!

    • This is too much for a hungover Sunday morning.

    • You need to assume there are other alternatives though. If I need 4pm check out I take Hilton over Accor because I am Diamond and whilst not guaranteed my chances are decent. InterCon vs Hilton I choose IC because Ambassador guarantees it.

      • Lady London says:

        I find if you have status or ask nicely Accor will generally go to 1pm, with status 2pm these days unless they have a good reason not to such as a large party they need to clean all the rooms promptly for.

        • Lady London says:

          Also if you have negotiated 4pm checkout (or even later, which I have achieved in the Middle East without status by asking politely) then always always mention to the Reception on checkin so they can double check this is noted in your file as occasionally it does not get noted and you get phone calls in the room shortly after most people’s checkout time.

        • Genghis says:

          I’d say most of my late checkouts actually result in having to get the key cut again when I want to get back in the room at 3pm. No idea why so many hotels get it wrong.

        • Same as Genghis – can’t think when I haven’t had to do this in ICs.

        • Graham Walsh says:

          Yep always happens, at the Hilton DT last week, the lady on reception said all the keys reset at midday. What’s the point of an electronic system if you can’t even code the room key right?

  6. Explanation:

    Suppose you value a guaranteed early check-in at greater than $10. That is, you prefer a certain early check-in over getting $10. Suppose you prefer getting $10 over no early check-in.

    Now, there should exist a probability p at which you prefer a lottery in which you get an early check-in with probability p and no early check-in with probability (1 – p) over getting $10.

    You claim that last statement true only if p = 1. That’s not plausible.

    Analogy: You prefer getting a new Ferrari over getting a new Golf. You prefer getting a new Golf over getting nothing.

    Obviously, it would be plausible that you prefer getting a Ferrari with probability p and nothing with probability (1 – p) over getting a Golf with certainty for some p < 1. Obviously, a Ferrari is worth so much more money than a Golf that it would be stupid, for example, to not prefer the lottery over the certain Golf for a p such as 0.999.

    • Not everyone prefers a Golf, or an unguaranteed early check in l, to nothing (is if it useless to you and non-transferable).

  7. Do you have to be a current Platinum holder when you stay or only when you book? Like many readers I’m in the habit of churning when I’ve hit my early bonus payment. Would I then loose these benefits when I check in?

    • The hotel status you mean? If so these should be valid for 12 months since opening up plat.acc

    • Only on booking but the hotel usually insists you pay with an Amex.

    • Lady London says:

      You can alternate hotels then. However if you’ve chosen to have a luxury stay one reason might be that you want to have a relaxing time with your companion. Changing hotels each day could reduce the pleasure of that stay with that companion.

  8. Niall Blunden says:

    What’s to stop you from making multiple back-to-back bookings at the same hotel to get $100 credit every night?

    • This line in the terms and conditions: “Three room limit per Card Member, per stay; back-to-back stays within a 24-hour period at the same property considered one stay. “

    • Kinkell says:

      T&cs state back to back bookings. within 24 hrs are counted as one stay

    • It’s often referred to as ‘stacking’.

      You can stay at a different hotel every night and get the benefits that way but there’s the inconvenience.

      I don’t think i’ve found a Fine Hotel yet for as low as £150. Out of interest, what cheaper options have people discovered?

  9. OT

    I have recently got a gold credit card and found the upgrade link to platinum card.

    https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/platinum-charge/upgrade/

    I have hit my sign up bonus so was hoping to get a further 20k points by upgrading. I have done so in the past when the Amex gold was a charge card. Is it possible to upgrade the Amex gold, now it is a credit card, to platinum charge card?

    • No

      • Rob, my friend had signed up for the Amex Gold “Charge Card’ (although i believe all charge cards have automatically be converted to credit cards), can they upgrade to Platinum using the offer link above in the comment, since they originally signed up for the charge card?

      • Are you sure? The reason I ask when I click the upgrade link it doesn’t mention gold charge card. Just says you can upgrade if American Express cardholder. This might have changed from previously where it explicitly said upgrade from gold…

  10. Agree it’s a good benefit – worked esp well at the Andaz Maui when they also had a ‘4 for the price of 3 nights’ offer on. Excellent breakfast spread and decent upgrade. Late checkout wasn’t of interest due to flight times but agree can be handy on weekend stays. There’s a good FT thread with reports of FHR treatment by different hotels – worth searching before booking.

    I also tend to book over the phone with Plat Travel rather than online – they can then confirm which categories are eligible for upgrade – if you book too high a category the property often won’t upgrade you. They can also sometimes negotiate around the offer if it’s not straight F&B – for example I remember successfully exchanging dinner for 2 into lunch & dinner for 1.

    Of course if the destination you want also has Virtuoso properties then the Plat benefit is less meaningful as you can get that for free. They cover slightly different spreads of hotels though so can definitely be useful. You still receive full points/stay credit too with either scheme.

    • Lady London says:

      Just like wine on a menu I would never choose the cheapest grade of room. always 2-4 grades up.

  11. OT:

    If anyone can make good use of 90,000 IB avios I can offer them for £600?

    • Jeremy i says:

      Hi Andy, I’m interested and have been kicking myself not to have got the bonus Avios. Rob or Anika could perhaps give you my email address ? Thanks very much Jeremy

      • Hi Jeremy, I’ve just dropped Rob an email to see if he can swap our details.

        Thanks

        Andy

  12. John Tickner says:

    Bookng through FHR or Virtuoso – Are hotel points still credited ?

  13. barnaby100 says:

    I think FHR is past its best. Too inconsistent. I have had a much better experience with Emyr and Virtuoso that n the FHR. We stayed at a shocking FHR property last week, the room described as light a airy was dank and dismal with holes and stains in furniture and damaged woodwork. I contacted FHR immediately and received a response saying what great hotels the chain has! No action to contact the hotel or address our concerns. They didnt credit the $100 dollars amenity and also charged a resort fee not mentioned at the time of booking.

  14. GoldmanSachs says:

    Looks like platinum referral link is now only showing gold and green cards?

  15. Just had best stay with FHR.
    Stayed at Conrad Tokyo last month with 3 for 2 deal and cost us 93000 yen for 3 nights. In the end we got early check in at 9am and upgraded to Bay View Suite which will cost 75000 yen per night. Also $125 food voucher plus late check out at 3pm.

    • Can you get both gold and platinum cards?

      • Yes, if you’re absolutely sure you need them both. There’s little benefit in doing that, unless you can expense all the FX transactions or spend just the £15k a year for extra 10k points.

        • Keith Davies says:

          Does it allow the sign up rewards to get the 20k and 30k?

        • Jonathan says:

          No as both have same rewards currency. Can only get a sign up bonus on a MR Card (Platinum/Gold/Green) if not had any of them in past 6 months. Also need your MR account to have been emptied & closed for 6 months.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Same rewards currency yes, and that excludes you from the bonus, but OP asked whether you can get both (presumably at the same time), which you can.

  16. Andrew S says:

    Recently had a 3 night stay at Hotel Danieli in Venice booked via FHR. Booked the basic deluxe double room (€460/night) and got upgraded to the lagoon view room (€1k/night). Some of that may have been thanks to gold SPG Status. Since the view is amazing, totally made our stay, which is what it is all about.
    Received the $100 credit (spent wisely on a variety of cocktails at Bar Danieli!).
    Daily buffet breakfast for the two of us (definitely worth it!).
    Receptionist clearly explained the benefits, even asked whether I’d need the 4pm check-out (didn’t require due to travel onwards to Ljubljana).
    Also given a bottle of local red wine and some biscotti as welcome gift.
    Was also provided with a survey form to return to Amex, probably to ensure I received the benefits as stated.

    • Hi Andrew, I’m thinking of booking this same trip to Ljubljana – how do you recommend travelling across? Did you hire a car?

      Thanks!

  17. Hsergio10 says:

    OT: Groupon avios iberia

    https://www.groupon.es/deals/avios-13

    Here are the packages:

    2,000 Avios Iberia Plus for € 19 instead of € 54 (0.95 cents each)
    4.000 Avios Iberia Plus for € 54 instead of € 91 (1.35 cents each)
    8,000 Iberia Plus Avios for € 99 instead of € 164 (1.24 cents each)
    15,000 Iberia Plus Avios for € 189 instead of € 293 (1.26 cents each)
    20,000 Avios Iberia Plus for € 249 instead of € 385 (1.25 cents each)
    34,000 Avios Iberia Plus for € 429 instead of € 646 (1.26 cents each)

  18. Brian S says:

    Done well by me the only time I’ve used it. Top quality hotel (Shangri-La Toronto) with a 3 catergory upgrade, 5 nights for price of 4, superb breakfast, champagne and gifts in room and late checkout.

  19. I’ve never used FHR but I have booked with Emyr. He did a great job, securing all the benefits at the Betsy Hotel in Miami:
    – Free early check in (lthough traffic meant we only arrived at 3pm)
    – Free upgrade
    – $100 spend
    – Free breakfast
    – Late checkout

    Emyr also gave the hotel a heads up that it was our honemyoon and we received a free bottle of Prosecco and Chocolates on arrival.

    If you’ve not given either of the schemes a go I can vouch for Emyr’s good work and its really easy to contact him.

  20. If I booked a hotel (Cosmo in Vegas) through Amex travel on my gold, but when I arrive next week I will have plat, is there a chance we could blag the FHR benefits?

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