Get free breakfast, upgrades and more with the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program
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When you book a hotel through the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program, you’ll get access to various elite-like perks for your stay. 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, can book select hotels through the Amex FHR program.
The Amex FHR program can add serious perks and benefits to your hotel stays and may not cost much more than booking direct. However, Amex has packed its Platinum and Centurion-branded cards with benefits that you may have overlooked or underestimated under the Amex FHR program. Here is everything you need to know about the program.
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What is American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts?
The American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program provides elite-like benefits at more than 1,100 properties worldwide when you book through the program. Amex reserves access to its Amex FHR program for cardmembers with a Centurion or Platinum card, including the Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum.
The properties bookable through the Amex FHR program are a mix of branded and independent properties. But all of the properties bookable through the Amex FHR program are well-rated luxury properties that Amex says are hand-selected. There are many reasons you may choose to book a stay through Amex FHR. But most cardholders primarily book through the program to get extra perks on their stay.
Main perks and benefits
Booking through Amex FHR often 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 Amex FHR booking, regardless of the length of your stay:
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available at check-in
- Properties may exclude some room types and some may only give you a room with a better view.
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout
- Noon check-in, when available
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- When a property includes Wi-Fi in a mandatory resort fee, you’ll receive a daily credit equal to the Wi-Fi cost.
- Experience credit
- The experience should be valued at $100 or more and usually consists of a property, dining or spa credit.
You can maximize your Amex FHR bookings even further by targeting hotels with specific experience credits that are unique or worth more than $100.
For example, The Peninsula Shanghai offers a complimentary dinner for two and The Peninsula Manila offers a complimentary 50-minute massage for two people per room. These perks could easily net you more than $100 in value.
And the St. Regis Mumbai offers a complimentary lunch or dinner for two people per room, while the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort offers a $200 property credit.
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.
How to book Amex FHR stays
To get Amex FHR benefits, you’ll need to book through American Express Travel. In particular, you can book Amex FHR stays through the Centurion Travel Service, the Platinum Travel Service or American Express Travel Online.
I find it easiest to book online at www.amextravel.com/featured-hotel-searches. Plus, prepaid Amex FHR stays booked online earn 5x Amex Membership Rewards points on the Amex Platinum or Amex Business Platinum card. That being said, you may use any American Express card in your name to pay for your reservation.
To get Amex FHR benefits, the Platinum or Centurion 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 Amex 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 and fees) on the Amex Platinum consumer card. These additional cardholders could book more rooms under their accounts.
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 Amex FHR bookings. While I did receive elite benefits on my stay, some readers reported not receiving elite benefits and earnings on their stays.
Since that stay, we’ve received reports of some properties refusing to offer elite status earnings or benefits on Amex FHR stays. But we’ve also received multiple reports of the reverse as well.
Initially, I assumed I’d get elite earnings and benefits if an Amex FHR stay showed up in my loyalty account within a few days of booking. However, 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 prepay has little impact on whether you get elite benefits and earnings.
So, where does this leave us? At this point, it seems whether you’ll get elite earnings and benefits varies greatly. My advice is to book a refundable prepaid Amex 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. Although not an ideal solution, at least you’ll know before your visit what benefits you can expect.
Can you use Amex Points to book?
You can use Amex Membership Rewards for FHR bookings. In particular, you’ll only get a value of one cent per point when you redeem Amex points for FHR bookings.
However, TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, based on the value you can get when transferring Membership Rewards points to Membership Rewards transfer partners. As such, 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 standard Amex FHR benefits and perks during your stay. But, for many of these properties, the free night is the most valuable amenity you’ll get by booking through the Amex FHR program.
As you can see in the example below, Amex includes the free night in the nightly rate displayed.
Here are some – but not nearly all – hotels that currently offer a complimentary third or fourth night for Amex FHR bookings:
- Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows in Scottsdale, AZ (complimentary fourth night)
- Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Phoenix, AZ (complimentary third night)
- Boca Beach Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Boca Raton, FL (complimentary third night)
- Casa del Mar in Santa Monica, CA (complimentary third night)
- Conrad Dublin in Dublin, Ireland (complimentary third night)
- Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach in Fort Lauderdale, FL (complimentary fourth night)
- Conrad Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan (complimentary third night)
- Conrad Washington DC in Washington, DC (complimentary third night)
- Equinox New York in New York, NY (complimentary third night)
- Fairmont Orchid in Kamuela, HI (complimentary third night)
- Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino in Noord, Aruba (complimentary fourth night)
- Waldorf Astoria Panama in Panama City, Panama (complimentary third night)
Presumably, booking through Amex 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 Amex FHR booking – accounting for the value you’ll get from the perks and benefits – with your other favorite booking methods.
Is Amex FHR worth it?
Booking through Amex FHR can provide valuable benefits. But, Amex FHR rates are often (but not always) more expensive than booking direct.
However, the nightly rate isn’t everything. The elite-like benefits provided on Amex FHR stays have tangible value. The include daily breakfast, guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout and an experience credit worth at least $100
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. And at some hotels, you’ll still get elite benefits and earnings when booking through Amex FHR.
As such, for some trips, booking through Amex FHR may be the best choice even if it doesn’t provide the least expensive rate. And, if you snag an Amex FHR property that’s offering a free night, booking through FHR can end up being significantly cheaper than booking directly.
When to use Amex FHR
Despite not always offering the lowest rates, Amex FHR can still be an incredibly compelling booking option. However, here are a few scenarios in which you may get outsized value by booking through the Amex FHR program:
One of the most significant selling points of Amex FHR is the experience credit. After all, this credit should be worth at least $100 regardless of how long you stay. So the shorter your stay, the better value this credit represents.
For example, I’ve booked an FHR hotel for a night at the beginning or end of my trip on multiple occasions. By doing so, I can squeeze the most value out of this credit. I even got $160 of value out of a $153 one-night FHR stay at the Loews Chicago once.
You can snag 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 such as DC’s historic Watergate Hotel, booking through FHR may be the way to go.
Travelers without elite status
Hotel loyalty programs often offer many of the Amex FHR perks to their elite members. As such, booking through Amex FHR will typically provide more value if you don’t have a mid to high tier of elite status with the hotel’s loyalty program.
At some properties, the complimentary breakfast alone may justify booking through Amex FHR. But, even if you have elite status with a hotel’s loyalty program, you may still want to book through Amex FHR for access to the experience credit, breakfast for two and guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout.
If you’re planning to stay at a luxury hotel, booking through Amex’s FHR program can provide extra elite-like benefits. Sometimes you can book through Amex FHR for little to no additional cost compared with booking direct. And you might even save money through the promotions available at some FHR properties. But you don’t usually book through Amex FHR for cost savings — you book for the benefits that come with FHR bookings.
Indeed, the benefits that come with an Amex 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 is to 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.
Featured image of the Equinox Hotel New York by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.
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