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