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100,000 BONUS POINTS: Why Fine Hotels & Resorts is one of the best Amex Platinum benefits

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American Express is currently running a ‘best ever’ sign-up bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards points when you take out The Platinum Card.

This would convert into 100,000 Avios (!) or lots of other great travel rewards. Even better, you qualify for the bonus even if you have a British Airways American Express card as long as you meet the other criteria.

Our introductory article on the ‘100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points’ offer is here. Remember that you can still get a pro-rata refund on the annual fee as long as you cancel by the end of February 2024. The Platinum Card application page is here.

American Express Fine Hotels Resorts benefits

Two weeks ago we looked at:

…. and we will cover some other features in the coming weeks.

Today I want to look at why the Fine Hotels & Resorts booking scheme is one of the best American Express Platinum benefits.

How does American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts work?

One of the most useful benefits of having an American Express Platinum credit card – and one which genuinely helps me justify the £650 fee – is the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme.

FHR, as it is known, is a collection of 1,300 luxury hotels worldwide which commit to offering special benefits to American Express Platinum cardholders when you book via Amex Travel.

FHR bookings can be made online so you don’t need to spend any unnecessary time on the phone.

How does American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts work?

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 at the admittedly few luxury hotels which still like to charge)
  • An additional benefit worth $100, usually a $100 food and beverage credit per stay

You can check out the full list of participating hotels in FHR at this special Amex website. This website is a little confusing because it talks about 2,000 hotels. This includes 700 in ‘The Hotel Collection’ which is a different, less generous plan for both Platinum and Gold cardholders.

American Express Fine Hotels Resorts

The key, for me, is the guaranteed 4pm check-out

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. When we just go for the weekend, getting a 4pm Sunday check-out is invaluable.

On one night stays, you’re laughing

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 £250 for a standard room at a city hotel via FHR, as I used to do a lot at at Park Hyatt Hamburg on my way to/from my in-laws. (This hotel is now sadly closed for refurbishment and will become Conrad Hamburg next year.)

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.

You also earn your usual loyalty points and elite night credits if you pay on departure

All FHR stays are fully qualifying for loyalty points and stay credit with one condition – you must choose to pay on departure.

A strange quirk of the scheme is that if you choose to pre-pay your room (there is no price difference for pre-paying, so I don’t know why you’d do it) the booking is treated as ‘third party’ and you won’t earn any points or elite status benefits. American Express does not make this clear but trust us – this is how it works.

Check the pricing though

One downside of Fine Hotels & Resorts is pricing.  It is not necessarily linked to the Best Available Rate, although it usually is. This means that you can often get surprises, both on the upside and the downside.  That said, on a short stay the $100 food and drink credit will offset any higher headline price 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 want to learn more about the current special 100,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card, our core article on the deal is here.

You can apply here.

Comments (41)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • dk says:

    Is it the same for the hotel collection in terms of the stay counting towards status if you pay at checkout?

    • DJ says:

      No. Only FHR pay at check out counts.

      The hotel collection won’t count.

      • Graeme says:

        With The Hotel Collection, paying on checkout does give points. At least it did for the two THC stays I did at a Hilton in Dubai a few months ago.

  • josh says:

    Note that only very expensive elite hotels are in FHR and the amex portal price is often quite a bit higher than third party sites. Also with hilton and marriott status always get 4pm checkout at quite nice hotels.

    • JDB says:

      That’s the issue – you absolutely don’t need a Platinum card to obtain all these benefits and more via Emyr or other Virtuoso type travel agents and as above, even via OTAs or the Mastercard WE travel programme. It’s a totally standard offering available to the humblest free credit card holders.

      There’s then the issue that all of these programmes either get paid c.20% commission or have equivalent/better net rates, so if you contact a hotel directly it takes little for them to give you a lower rate as well as better and guaranteed upgrades which at more expensive hotels translates into huge savings and a more comfortable stay.

      If this is seriously “one of the best Amex Platinum benefits” per the headline, I’d be rather dubious about the rest, but nothing new there.

      • brian says:

        What free credit cards offer the Mastercard WE travel programme?

        The HSBC Premier World Elite card is probably my next best option after the Platinum card but obviously not free. Curious to know what free ones are available?

        • JDB says:

          @brian – my point was that you don’t need any paid credit card, let alone an expensive one, to be able to access the supposed benefits of FHR. Such benefits are readily available to all via different routes.

          I mentioned Mastercard WE as it too offers a programme similar to FHR – the Mastercard Luxury Hotel & Resorts Portfolio to highlight that while FHR is touted as a benefit of an expensive card, it’s a routine offering and nothing exclusive.

          • Luca M says:

            And which UK issued Mastercard offers access to this? The NatWest/RBS Black World Elite?

        • Luca M says:

          @brian as far as I know, even most paid for UK MasterCard World Elite issued cards do not qualify for the MasterCard elite benefits as the issued banks needs to sign up to it and these are actually offered by Ten Lifestyle Group. Barclaycard Avios WE, HSBC Premier WE (100% sure as I had both) and Santander WE (enquired and was told) do not give you access to the MasterCard Concierge or Elite Travel Benefits. Potentially NatWest/RBS may do as well as probably the Coutts Silk MC WE could do.

          There are a number of other pat for WE cards issued to UK residents (the Revolut premium card for example, but one free one is the Chase UK debit card (BIN registered as JP Morgan WE card), but again, no access to MC Elite Travel Benefits or Concierge

          • Luca M says:

            OK, Apparently the new Lloyds World Elite MasterCard has access to MasterCard Elite services

  • ChasP says:

    One of the most useful benefits of having an American Express Platinum charge card ….

    Thought it was a credit card now

  • Frank says:

    What are the benefits over booking with Emyr at Bon Vivant?

    • aseftel says:

      Late check out is guaranteed, unlike (I think) any of the rates Emyr can access. Some of his ones will offer things like guaranteed upgrade (e.g. Hyatt or Shangri La) so really depends what you want to prioritise. Rates also won’t necessarily be the same and there will be things like free night promotions skewing it too.

    • Rob says:

      Guaranteed 4pm check-out. If you really need 4pm then FHR does the trick.

  • Etk says:

    Is there a list of uk FHR hotels anywhere?

  • GeorgeZ says:

    ‘ if you choose to pre-pay your room (there is no price difference for pre-paying, so I don’t know why you’d do it) the booking is treated as ‘third party’ and you won’t earn any points or elite status benefits ‘

    I used Amex to book Conrad Seoul in September and I prepaid (was not aware of the above rule) yet I got the HH points. Was it an odd exception and I got lucky? Or a chain exception?

  • TonyO says:

    I appear to have loyalty points added for pre paid hotel bookings which conflicts with what this article says. Have I misunderstood ?

    • Rob says:

      Are you talking about FHR or in general?

      In general a prepaid booking made with the hotel always earns points.

      In general any sort of third party booking, prepaid or not, earns nothing (and no status benefits).

      FHR is a weird exception where pay on checkout rates DO count even though it’s third party.

      • CamFlyer says:

        Is FHR really a third-party booking, in the same sense as Hotels.com or Expedia.com? I had always viewed FHR pay on checkout rates as an agency booking, where an authorized agent makes a booking on behalf of the customer in exchange for some form of commission, booking fee charged to the customer or both. FHR or other benefits are a special ‘contract’ benefit that the travel agent has negotiated on behalf of its customers, in exchange for driving business to that property/chain (and also to that booking agency / network). The booking is in the customer’s name, and will have access to customer and booking data. Compare this to a hotels.com or Expedia booking (even a pay at property rate), where the booking will be actually be made by that booking organization in its name, and it passes along very few details about the end customer beyond his/her name–potentially not even the full price that the customer was actually charged.

        I’m sure that Rob or someone else with more inside knowledge about how the industry functions will correct this antiquated view of someone who started traveling when personal (not even just corporate) travel bookings were generally made over the phone or in person through traditional travel agents.

        In that sense, the various Hyatt Prive, Marriott STARS, IHG Luxury, etc. programs are seeking to undermining the benefits of FHR for the major chains, and indeed for personal travel, I use these as my first check (through Emyr), rather than FHR, as it tends to be far simpler than dealing with Amex travel.

        • Rob says:

          Expedia now powers FHR. Your booking receipt will show Expedia or Egencia, the B2B arm.

        • JDB says:

          Amex is tied into Expedia/Egencia so for many bookings it is effectively just another OTA that has arrangements with certain hotels. Amex Travel also has many direct deals and FHR is just a marketing name; behind the scenes, Amex books you via the best deal it has. As with many corporate travel schemes, the provider can determine eligibility for points/benefits and the price is set accordingly.

          As you have identified, Emyr provides the same benefits yet offers a personalised and value added service, so if booking via any agent I would much rather he got the commission than Amex who bring nothing to the party.

  • L Allen says:

    When I last used FHR the only option given was to prepay. As it was a cancellable rate, I was t initially concerned. That was, until I decided to change hotel and book via Emyr. The process and length of time to get a refund was excessive and has put me off using it. Maybe certain hotels have to be prepaid? Or perhaps I missed a tick box on the website?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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