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.
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.
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.
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.