One of the most useful benefits of having an American Express Platinum charge card – and one which genuinely helps me justify the £575 fee – is the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme.
As a reminder, American Express Platinum comes with a generous sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points (= 30,000 Avios). If you apply now, you get six months – instead of the usual three months – to spend the £4,000 required to earn the bonus.
The bonus criteria for Platinum is looser than other American Express cards. You can have the bonus as long as you haven’t had a personal card earning Membership Rewards points in the past 24 months. You WILL get the bonus if the only Amex cards you’ve had in the last 2 years were a British Airways Amex, Starwood / Marriott Amex, Nectar Amex, Platinum Cashback, Costco Amex or a Business Gold / Business Platinum.
How does American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts work?
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 worth $100, usually a $100 food and beverage credit per stay
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, pictured above, 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 comes into its own is on one night stays. The value here can be amazing. Let’s imagine you’re paying £175 for a standard room at a city hotel via FHR, as I do sometimes at Park Hyatt Hamburg. 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. 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.)