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How an Amex perk I thought I'd never use got me 3 nights for the price of 1 in NYC

June 24, 2022
7 min read
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Last year, when I finally decided to apply for my first premium credit cardThe Platinum Card® from American Express — I carefully added up savings from the perks I knew I'd use to make sure the $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) would be worth it for me.

But there was one major offering from which I thought I'd never see value: the $200 annual prepaid hotel credit.

Eight months later, as I scrambled to find a last-minute hotel for a three-night trip to New York, I decided to check out the Amex Travel portal, knowing I'd get 5 points per dollar if I booked and prepaid for the accommodations there using my Amex Platinum. When I got to the site, a pop-up reminded me that I hadn't yet used the $200 credit — which is eligible for stays of any length at Fine Hotels + Resorts properties as well as stays of two nights or more at The Hotel Collection properties.

For kicks, I decided to see what was available in the portal, which on previous checks had offered properties that were eye-wateringly expensive. Long story short, I ended up at a Hotel Collection property, where I booked a sizeable junior suite, breakfast included, for just $98 a night.

Here, I'll break down exactly how that happened and why the $200 annual prepaid hotel credit isn't just for big spenders at hotels that cost thousands of dollars a night.

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How I chose the hotel

A Playbill from "Six," the musical. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

In December, I leveraged Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on the TodayTix app — and an Amex Offer that gave me $25 back for spending $100 or more with Telecharge — to buy tickets to eight Broadway shows, three of which I planned to see during my recent stay.

That meant I needed to crash somewhere within walking distance of the theaters. Coupling that with my desire to be near the Manhattan cruise terminal to take advantage of any ship-spotting opportunities, I chose the Ink 48 on 11th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen.

Hotel offers

A view from The Press Lounge rooftop bar at Ink 48. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Having stayed at the Ink 48 on two other occasions for work events (read: I didn't have to pay for it), I knew it was a trendy place with an elegant lobby, a stellar cafe, comfy accommodations and rooftop views that are arguably some of the best in the city. But I also knew it had the potential to cost a little beyond what I was willing to spend.

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Cue the hotel discounts. Because this was a Hotel Collection property and I booked a stay of at least two nights, I scored a $100 hotel credit. In addition, the property was offering a third night free, for a combined savings of $405 right off the bat.

My total was $853 for three nights with taxes and fees (including a dreaded destination charge, classified as a "hotel amenity fee"). And the $100 credit just about covered breakfast at the cafe for both me and my travel companion during our stay.

Burning and earning

To knock the price down even further, I burned 30,000 Amex points, which took off another $210. I realize that, by spending 30,000 to save $210, each point was worth only 0.7 cents. It's not great, but saving that extra money did wonders for my bottom line. For me, it's more important to be able to save when and how I need to, rather than to find the best redemption value.

It's a small consolation, but I also earned back a few points on the purchase. Because I booked through the Amex Travel portal and prepaid for the stay, I earned 5 points per dollar for a total of 2,530 points. According to current valuations, they're worth $0.02 each or about $50 total.

The final breakdown

Here's a breakdown of all charges I incurred, along with discounts, promotions and points factored in:

  • Three nights = $610, including the third-night-free discount.
  • $106 taxes and fees.
  • $137 hotel amenity fee.
  • 30,000 points burned (knocked $210 off the price).
  • $200 statement credit.
  • $100 hotel credit (used to cover breakfast).
  • 2,530 points earned (worth $50).

Total cost: $293 for three nights, or $98 per night

The room

The dressing table and foyer area of my junior suite at Ink 48. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

So, how was my stay? A 500-square-foot junior suite with a king bed was only $10 more per night than a standard king room that was just half the size, so I went for the upgrade.

When I arrived, I was stunned. The room had a separate sitting area, a dressing table and a massive bathroom, complete with a toilet room, dual vanity, soaking tub and separate shower. It was clean, bright and minimalist, complete with trendy lighting and neutral colors.

The massive bathroom in my junior suite at Ink 48. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

The best part, however, was the view. Looking out over the Hudson, we had a clear look at Pier 86's Intrepid aircraft carrier, which is home to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. It's also just a stone's throw from piers 88 and 90, where cruise ships dock when they're in town. (Unfortunately, none were there during my visit.)

The Intrepid aircraft carrier at Pier 86 in Manhattan. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

The front desk folks were super helpful with regard to check-in, adding my travel companion's name to the reservation and leaving a key for him at the front desk. One oddity worth noting is that they don't accept cash and, therefore, can't give change if you use the ATM in the lobby. (This happened to me when I was trying to get change to leave a tip for housekeeping at the end of my stay. Thankfully, the bellman was able to break some bills for me.)

Breakfast at the lobby's PRINT cafe was excellent (try the pancakes), but service was unexpectedly aloof for how expensive everything was. If you find yourself at or near Ink 48, stop in at night and take the first elevator up to The Press Lounge, a rooftop bar with incredible views of both the Manhattan skyline and the Hudson River.

Bottom line

All charges, discounts, credits and points considered, I walked away paying $293 for three nights — or $98 a night, including breakfast — at a high-end hotel. When all was said and done, I got three nights for less than the price of one night at a comparable hotel (or at the same hotel if I had booked directly through Ink 48).

After years as a budget traveler worried mainly about cost, I'm still adjusting to the fact that I can achieve a higher standard at a similar price point if I'm smart about leveraging credit card benefits. I'm also still learning what constitutes a good value in terms of points redemptions.

Overall, I consider this experience a huge win for me. Next time, I won't be so quick to dismiss perks that don't immediately resonate with me. They just might be worth a second look.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.

Featured image by My 500-square-foot junior suite at Ink 48. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

5X points
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 Points
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees