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How Much Value Can I Really Get Out Of American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts Benefits?

by on February 2, 2014 · 18 comments

in American Express, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Mary had a question about one of the Platinum Card from American Express’s major benefits, the Fine Hotels & Resorts booking site:

“In all the hubbaloo about the American Express Platinum downgrades, people are mentioning FHR as a major benefit. However, I’ve never bothered to use this, as it doesn’t seem to offer much that I couldn’t get as a hotel elite member.  (SPG Plat in my case.) 

I’ve also avoided OTA’s for hotel bookings, since I don’t usually get points, although I’m hearing you usually receive the points with FHR. In any case, would you agree with this assessment, or is there a lot of value I could get out of FHR?”

Mary is referring to the fact that Platinum cardholders won’t be able to access American and US Airways lounges after March 22, 2014, and that they won’t be able to bring guests into Delta Sky Clubs anymore either.

However the card still has several very valuable benefits that might still make it worth it to you including an annual $200 airline purchase rebate, Global Entry application fee refund (worth $100) and Priority Pass lounge access.

Mary’s specific question is about the Fine Hotels & Resorts benefit for Platinum cardholders. Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts is an online hotel booking site where cardholders can get extra perks like on-property dining and spa credits, room upgrades and early check-in/late check-out automatically thrown in.

Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts can offer a ton of extra perks and benefits.

Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts can offer a ton of extra perks and benefits.

As Mary notes, many of those are the same benefits she enjoys as a Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum elite. However, in my experience, FHR can offer some amazing benefits. The rates are often comparable to those you’ll pay directly to a hotel chain, and because the major chains including Starwood treat FHR as a travel agent rather than an Online Travel Agency (OTA), you still earn points and can enjoy your elite benefits on stays booked through it.

Not only that, but you’re also getting the benefits that you’d get through a travel agent, including potentially hundreds of dollars in value from upgrades and hotel credits, as well as amenities like free breakfast, which you might not get from your elite status.

I’ve personally had some great experiences with FHR, including in Las Vegas, where you can get huge perks and very low hotel rates.

Do I think that you can get the full $450 annual fee worth of benefits just from FHR? Probably not, but when you factor in all the other card benefits, I still think you’re coming out ahead. I am planning on keeping my own card around for a while – not least of all because they offered me a 25,000-point bonus recently to make up for the loss of lounge benefits.

At the very least, I’d suggest that next time you plan to book a Starwood stay, price check SPG.com with Amex FHR and see what the cost difference is and what perks Amex is going to throw your way and see if it’s worth it to you, because I have a feeling it will be.

For more information, see these posts:
The Amex Platinum Card Review
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $450 Annual Fee?
Maximizing the Amex Platinum $200 Annual Airline Rebate
Understanding the Amex Platinum Lounge Access Benefit
The Amex Platinum Fine Hotels & Resorts Program
My Experience Getting Refunded for the Global Entry Application Fee With My Amex Platinum Card

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on Facebook, Tweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • etm117

    I used FHR last October at the Wynn in Las Vegas. I was upgraded automatically per the terms of the FHR program to a suite that cost over $1k/night. Granted I would not have booked that room myself so there was no monetary amount to offset the $450/yr fee. In that regards though there was a $40/person per day in breakfast from the FHR benefits. For the 4 night trip that was $320 free right there.

  • Yankees

    Can I get priorty pass as an authorized user?

  • thepointsguy
  • RakSiam

    I think whether this benefit is of value probably depends a lot on the destinations you visit as well as the hotels you choose to stay in. The FHR program is typically directed to expensive hotels. If you plan to stay at one of them anyway it probably makes some sense. But I think you can usually find more cost-effective options in most places that will save you a lot more money.

  • Mandrews

    What is the difference between this benefit and the benefit of luxury hotel and resort collection of the united club card? Are they essentially the same or is one better than the other?

  • SEM

    I have had amazing results w/FHR vs SPG Platinum (Especially w/ regards to Suite upgrades) when staying at SPG properties, and excellent treatment @ other places as well…I find the automatic upgrade is never even questioned, and have enjoyed suites that I never would have paid for otherwise…As stated above, these properties tend to be expensive anyway ( save Vegas ) but if you are shelling out the $$$ to stay at one, why not get something even better, just as a benefit of the Card…

  • Justin

    FHR was great for us at the Savoy in London. We were upgraded to a suite with butler service and had a 4th night free and dinners for 2 nights all included. Also Fairmont gave us credit for the stay on my presidents club account. Was definitely worth it.

  • Kristy

    I also recommend taking advantage of Amex’s concierge service as a Platinum Card holder- which I find to be extremely valuable, (particularly when traveling abroad.) They will take care of everything for you. When last preparing to visit Paris, I gave the AMEX agent a list of my desired restaurants and specific date/times for each (most were difficult to get reservations with and required booking far in advance.) With the time difference and language barrier, this can be an extremely time consuming task. The agent handled all of it, and updated me every day on her progress. It was a huge relief and when factoring in the time I saved, it increased the value of the cards perks, for sure. They will do the same for booking tickets, car reservations, etc. Bottom line- don’t just book with them through FHR- let them do the work for you. With that in mind I think the card earns it’s $450 value each year.

  • Clayton

    My wife and I booked the hotel for our honeymoon using FHR. We selected the least expensive room, and received two upgrades. We saved over $500/night for 8 nights. The only downside was that the least expensive room started at over $500, which seems to be the case with most of the hotels within FHR.

    Best vacation of my life, and well worth the $450.

  • Stvr

    You overpay for the rooms by not being able to use AAA or my elite rate. How much is that room upgrade worth?

  • Miles

    Is this feature only available to holders of the personal cards?

  • Mjodotcom

    I found the FHR benefit to be great for an upcoming stay in Tokyo. We booked the Shangri-La for four nights with the fourth night free, free breakfast for two each day (which is not cheap there), a potential room upgrade, $100 property credit, and late checkout (which helps a lot for our late flight) all for the same nightly rate as any other booking channels. The free fourth night made splurging on a “nicer” property much more managable!

  • Brett Halloran

    FHR is an excellent benefit that I have used dozens of times. The type of room upgrade does vary from property to property, usually based on availability. Some will upgrade you to a suite, other properties will not.

    My biggest complaint about the FHR is that it is not accessible from mobile devices running iOS. It seems a little archaic, but you can’t access FHR from your iPhone or iPad. I sometimes only travel with my iPad instead of a computer, so it’s impossible to use the FHR website in those situations.

  • shay peleg

    Lol funny enough they would not book a shuttle to the airport for me but they are very good with guest lists for the club

  • johnathome

    I use FHR for travel to China. The benefits in China and Asia in general are great as the breakfast buffets are generally billed at $50 per day plus the added amenity. Plus rates are better sometimes that what the hotel’s themselves show on their own website.

  • David

    An hour ago I checked out of the Four Seasons Florence in Italy, where I enjoyed a third night free, which was worth €450 by itself. Plus a €36 credit (per person, so it was x2 for us) for breakfast, guaranteed 4pm checkout, €85 spa credit (which we didn’t use), and of course a room upgrade. It was absolutely a great benefit and more than paid for the cost of the American Express Platinum card annual fee.

  • Fajahat Galal

    I’ve found ways to make my membership fee pay itself off from using the card.

  • SMBeetle

    Can you elaborate on getting SPG points for bookings made through the FHR program? On a recent trip to the St. Regis Princeville, I did not get credit for the room rate, only the incidentals. There doesn’t seem to be anything in writing on Starwood’s website addressing how it decides whether to treat FHR as a travel agent or online room aggregator. But it makes no sense to treat as the latter, since I am paying the hotel directly for the room.

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