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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how award travel has affected their lives: the exotic vacations they’ve planned, the trips they’ve made to be with family and friends, the premium seats and suites they’ve experienced, and so much more, all made possible by points and miles. I love to travel and explore, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many of you get where you want to go.
Moving forward, I want to share these success stories with all of you more often, to help inspire you the way you inspire me! So every other week or so I will select a story that catches my eye and post it here for everyone to enjoy. Two weeks ago I posted a story from TPG reader Michael, who put Marriott’s Flight + Hotel awards to good use in order to score the Southwest Companion Pass.
Today I want to share a story from TPG Reader Shazan, who had great success using the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program while traveling in Quebec with his girlfriend. Here’s what Shazan had to say:
Good afternoon! I’ve been reading The Points Guy for quite some time, and wanted to share with you a story about how your tips really helped me out.
I recently booked a trip to Quebec City for me and my girlfriend. I paid for our airfare outright (via the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center to earn 3 points per dollar), and I decided to take advantage of the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts Program to book our hotel stay using my Amex Platinum card.
Quebec is known for the famous Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. The rates on the Fairmont website were similar to those offered through FHR, except Amex wasn’t making me pre-pay the rate, and was offering a Deluxe (renovated) room with all the nice FHR amenities. I elected to go with the Amex deal at $189 CAD + taxes per night.
The perks were phenomenal. We got an awesome breakfast buffet for two (~$55 CAD daily) for 3 days. We got upgraded three times: first from a queen bed with an obstructed view to a king bed, then to one with a better city view, and then finally to one with a coveted St. Lawrence River View (these rooms typically cost an extra $70/night). We also received a $100 property credit, a very nice welcome gift, and late check-out.
Furthermore, since American Express offered a competitive rate and no pre-pay, I actually benefited from a currency devaluation. When I booked the trip, the exchange rate was about $1.13 CAD to $1 USD. By the time my credit card was charged, it was about $1.20 CAD to $1 USD, so I saved about 6% more from what I would have spent by pre-paying!
By taking advantage of FHR, I estimate that I received $165 CAD in breakfast benefits, $210 in room upgrade benefits, $100 in on property amenities, and $30 in foreign exchange savings off of the rate (not including forex savings from the rest of the trip!), for a total of approximately $505 CAD in benefits from spending $652. As icing on the cake, we got to use the Amex Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia Airport during our trip as well!
Thanks for walking me through the Platinum card benefits on your website via various posts. I’ve never really explored the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program in substantial depth until now, and I must agree that if you do your homework, the savings can make this card a no-brainer!
Shazan echoes my own feelings about the Amex FHR Program, especially after my recent experience at the St. Regis in Bali. Amex recently added free in-room WiFi as a new FHR benefit, and continues to add new properties to the roster. I also agree with his conclusion; given all the other benefits (like the $200 annual airline fee credit, Global Entry application fee credit, Centurion Lounge access, and more), Amex Platinum is number one on my latest list of the Top Travel Credit Card Offers.
I love this story, and I want to hear more like it! To thank Shazan for sending me this story (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card, and I’d like to do the same for you.
If the tips and strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination, or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me (and the whole TPG team) with your own award travel success stories by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and putting “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, you’ll have our utmost appreciation, and a gift card to jump-start your next adventure (purchased from Office Depot with my Chase Ink Plus, of course).
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you! While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.