Your complete guide to the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program

Jun 14, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information.

American Express card members with a Platinum or Centurion-branded card, including The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, have access to the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program. But, since Platinum and Centurion-branded cards are packed with benefits, you may have overlooked the FHR program.

The FHR program can add serious perks and benefits to your hotel stays and may not cost much more than booking direct. Here is everything you need to know about American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts.

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In This Post

What is American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts?

The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program provides elite-like benefits at over 1,000 properties in over 500 cities worldwide when you book through the program. Access to the FHR program is reserved for those with a Centurion or Platinum card (i.e. Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum).

The properties bookable through the FHR program are a mix of branded and independent properties, but they’re all well-rated luxury properties that Amex says are hand-selected. There are many reasons you may choose to book a stay through FHR, but the primary reason for most cardholders are the perks provided when you book through the program.

Related reading: How Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts can land you elite-like benefits at top hotels

Main perks and benefits

(Photo courtesy of Becca Manheimer/The Points Guy)
(Photo courtesy of Becca Manheimer/The Points Guy)

Booking through Amex FHR oftentimes isn’t the cheapest option but the perks you’ll receive may make up for any price difference.

Here are the perks you’ll receive with every FHR booking, regardless of the length of your stay:

  • Room upgrade upon arrival, when available at check-in
    • Some room types may be excluded and some hotels may simply give you a room with a better view
  • Daily breakfast for two people
    • The provided breakfast must be, at a minimum, a continental breakfast
  • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout
  • Noon check-in, when available at check-in
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
    • When a property includes Wi-Fi in a mandatory resort fee, you’ll receive a daily credit equal to the normal Wi-Fi charge.
  • Unique property amenity
    • The amenity should be valued at $100 or more and usually consists of a property, dining or spa credit.

You can maximize your FHR bookings even further by targeting hotels that offer unique property amenities that are worth more than the standard credit.

For example, The Peninsula Shanghai offers a complimentary dinner for two (excluding alcohol, taxes, and gratuity) once during your stay, which can easily net you more than $100 in value.

(Image courtesy of American Express)
(Image courtesy of American Express)

The St. Regis Bali Resort offers a complimentary 50-minute massage for two people once during your stay as its welcome amenity.

(Image courtesy of American Express)
(Image courtesy of American Express)

You may value some types of amenities more than others, so consider the value you’ll obtain when comparing your options. For example, I value a $100 food and beverage credit more than a $100 spa service credit because (1) I may struggle to find spa services for less than $100 at some properties, and (2) I likely wouldn’t use the spa if I didn’t have a credit.

Related reading: How I got $160 of food and drink included on a $153 FHR stay in Chicago

How to book FHR stays

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)
The pool at The Palazzo Las Vegas, an FHR property. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.)

You can book FHR stays through the Platinum Travel Service, Business Platinum Travel Service, Centurion Travel Service, americanexpress.com/fhr, any American Express Travel office.

However, you should book online at americanexpress.com/fhr if possible. This is because only FHR prepaid stays booked online will earn 5x Amex Membership Rewards points on the Amex Platinum or Amex Business Platinum card. That being said, you can use any American Express card in your name to pay for the reservation – you’ll just earn fewer points.

To get FHR benefits, the cardmember must stay on the itinerary booked. However, you can book up to three rooms for a stay under your account and all three rooms will qualify for FHR benefits. If you need to book more than three rooms for a trip with family or friends, keep in mind that you can get up to three authorized users for $175 total per year (see rates & fees) on the Amex Platinum consumer card. These additional cardholders could book more rooms under their own accounts.

Related reading: You can now earn 5x points and get VIP benefits at even more luxury hotels

Will I earn elite status or loyalty benefits?

In short… maybe.

When Amex started offering 5x points on FHR stays, I booked a stay at the Park Hyatt Beijing to test whether cardmembers would still get elite earnings and benefits on stays. While I did receive elite benefits on my stay, some readers reported not receiving these benefits at some Marriott properties.

Recently, we’ve received reports of some Marriott, Hyatt and IHG properties refusing to offer elite status earnings or benefits on FHR stays. We’ve received multiple reports of the reverse as well, so keep that in mind. As usual, YMMV.

In the past, I assumed I’d get elite earnings and benefits if an FHR stay showed up in my loyalty account within a few days of booking. However, recent reports indicate that whether a stay shows up in your loyalty account before check-in has little bearing on whether you’ll get these benefits. Likewise, reports show that whether you prepaid or not also has little bearing on whether you get elite benefits and earnings.

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
You’ll get 5x Amex points — and may receive hotel loyalty benefits and points — when you use the FHR website to book a prepaid stay at select hotels. (Photo of the Park Hyatt Beijing by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

So where does this leave us? At this point, it seems whether you’ll get elite earnings and benefits varies greatly. My best advice is to book a refundable prepaid FHR reservation. Then, email the property a few days after making the reservation and ask whether your stay will be eligible for elite earnings and benefits. This isn’t an ideal solution, but it’s currently your best option if you want the best of both worlds.

Related reading: Easy ways to earn hotel elite status before your next vacation

Can you use Amex Points to book?

You can use Amex Membership Rewards for FHR bookings, but you’ll only get a value of one cent per point. TPG values Membership Rewards points at two cents each, a value you’ll get much closer to via travel partner transfers. Most travelers will be better off paying for their stays with a Platinum card and earning 5X points on prepaid bookings.

Can I get a free night?

Amex highlights FHR properties on their webpage that currently offer a third, fourth, fifth or sixth night free. You’ll get all the normal FHR benefits and perks during your stay – but for many of these properties, the free night is the most valuable amenity.

The free night is included in the nightly rate displayed.

(Image courtesy of American Express)
(Image courtesy of American Express)

Here are some – but not nearly all – hotels that currently offer a free third or fourth night for FHR bookings:

Presumably, booking through FHR will be your best option when you’re getting a free night. But, it’s always a good idea to compare the net price of an FHR booking – accounting for the value you’ll get from the perks and benefits – with your other favorite booking methods.

Related reading: How to extend your hotel award stays with a free night

Is Amex FHR worth it?

Booking through FHR can provide serious benefits. Let’s consider how the price of booking through FHR compares to booking direct for a few sample properties.

For each of the properties below, the price shown is for the cheapest refundable rate currently bookable for a two-night stay on Dec. 11-13, 2020. The rate shown is for two people, including taxes and fees.

Hotel Amex FHR Direct
New York EDITION (New York, NY) $2,061 $2,019
Kimpton EPIC (Miami, FL) $707 $772
Park Hyatt Beijing (Beijing, China) $495 $442

The Palazzo at The Venetian (Las Vegas, NV)

$871 $667
The Langham Sydney (Sydney, Australia) $879 $792
Casa del Mar (Santa Monica, CA) $1,181 $1,166

As you can see from this small set of examples, FHR rates are usually not the cheapest.

Remember, the nightly rate isn’t everything. The elite-like benefits provided on Amex FHR stays, including daily breakfast, guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout and an amenity worth at least $100, have tangible value. Plus, if you use your Amex Platinum Card to make a prepaid FHR booking online, you’ll get a 10% return via the 5x Amex Membership Rewards points you’ll earn.

Considering these benefits and earnings, booking through Amex FHR may be the best choice in some cases. And, if you snag an FHR property that’s offering a free night, booking through FHR can end up being significantly cheaper than booking directly.

Related reading: How does FHR compare to the Citi Prestige’s 4th Night Free when booking luxury hotels

When to use Amex FHR

Despite not always offering the lowest rates, Amex FHR can still be an incredibly compelling booking option. However, there are a few scenarios where this program really outshines the competition:

Short stays

One of the biggest selling points of Amex FHR is the unique property amenity, which is often a credit valid for food, drink or spa treatments. You receive an amenity worth at least $100 no matter how long your stay is. So the shorter your stay, the better value this represents. It might be worth going out of your way to book FHR hotels for only one night, at the beginning or end of your trip, to squeeze the most value out of this credit. For example, I got $160 of value out of a $153 one-night FHR stay at the Loews Chicago last year.

Boutique/non-chain hotels

You can still get elite-like benefits at non-chain hotels when you book through Amex FHR. And, unlike at chain hotels, you don’t need to worry whether you’ll get elite earning and benefits during your stay. So, if you want to stay at a hotel like DC’s historic Watergate Hotel, booking through FHR may be the way to go.

(Image courtesy of American Express)
(Image courtesy of American Express)

Travelers without elite status

Except for the onsite property credit, most of the benefits of FHR are also offered to those with hotel elite status. This means that FHR becomes an even better value if a) you don’t have any hotel elite status, or b) you’re staying at a different chain than the one you have status with. At some properties, the free breakfast alone is enough to offset any difference in the room rates.

Related reading: When to book through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts vs. Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection

Bottom line

If you’re already planning to stay at a luxury hotel, booking through Amex’s FHR program provides elite-like benefits, sometimes at little to no extra cost. You might even save money through the promotions available at some FHR properties. But, you don’t normally book through FHR for cost savings — you book for the benefits that come with FHR bookings.

Indeed, the benefits that come with an FHR booking can sometimes make paying a bit more for the stay worthwhile – even for budget-conscious travelers. That’s especially true if you need an early check-in or late checkout and lack the status to get these benefits.

My suggestion: If you have an eligible Platinum or Centurion-branded Amex card, add Amex FHR to your list of booking options when researching a hotel stay. Sometimes you won’t find a property or price point that works, but occasionally you’ll uncover an excellent property with perks that fit your needs.

Don’t have an eligible card? Apply now for The Platinum Card from American Express or The Business Platinum Card from American Express

Featured image of the Observatory Bar at The Langham Sydney by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy.

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

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 75,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,500

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • 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 and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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$550
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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