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The American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program (FHR) provides exclusive benefits to certain American Express cardholders, delivering an upscale experience at many of the world’s best hotels. Many of these hotels may not participate in a loyalty program, and the FHR travel portal can supplement a stay with similar perks.
FHR is similar to a travel agency and has coordinated special benefits at more than 1,300 hotels worldwide so cardmembers can enjoy an upgraded experience, regardless of having elite status with a loyalty program.
While FHR does not promise the lowest rates (like most hotel websites do with their best rate guarantees), the rates are often competitive, especially for the extra perks. Since many of the hotels in the FHR program are among the best in their destinations, perks such as complimentary breakfast at luxurious hotels like Ritz Paris can be pretty remarkable.
Here are the ins and outs of the AmEx Fine Hotels and Resorts program and how to take advantage of its benefits.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
Which cards are eligible?
The only cards with access to FHR are The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and Centurion Card from American Express. To benefit from FHR extras, cardholders must make travel reservations via the AmEx Travel portal or FHR phone line and pay with their credit card.
There is also a program called The Hotel Collection from American Express. This is a different program open to more cardmembers but with fewer benefits. Be sure you are using the Fine Hotels and Resorts link to benefit from all the perks these rates offer.
What are the benefits?
Both The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offer 5 Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent on hotels reserved via the FHR portal. Once at the hotel, several perks improve the travel experience. These include:
Space-available room upgrades.
Early check-in based upon availability.
Guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout.
Daily breakfast for two people.
$100 experience credit.
Each hotel may categorize a room upgrade differently. Some may provide a boost to a suite, while others may move up one category to a larger room or one with a better view.
At this caliber of hotels, free breakfast for two people can represent exceptional value. Another popular perk is the $100 experience credit at each hotel. These are listed in the search portal, which provides transparency when making a reservation. They can include a spa, food or beverage credit, welcome gift or dining experience.
Some properties such as Conrad Tokyo, offer even more by upping the ante to a $125 credit. The Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok offers a dinner for two people, which could be more than $100 in retail value.
Can you use AmEx points for Fine Hotels and Resorts stays?
Yes, you can pay for the entire stay or just part of it in AmEx points. Membership Rewards points are valued at 1 cent per point when redeeming for a hotel through this portal, which equates to 50,000 points bringing a savings of $500. When using points, a minimum of 5,000 points must be applied.
» Learn more: How to Use AmEx Pay With Points to Book Travel
Can you make Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings for others?
The cardholder must use their credit card to make the reservation and be one of the travelers on the itinerary to earn the 5x Membership Rewards for any prepaid hotel stay. Additional cardholders can also take advantage of the perks of the FHR program.
How do you make a reservation?
To complete a reservation, you will need to log into your American Express account, but it is possible to peruse available hotels and related benefits without logging in by heading straight to the FHR home page. There, you can search for the destination and dates of your trip to see the full list of available hotels. It will also reveal properties from The Hotel Collection, but remember those earn different benefits.
Interestingly, there are reviews from TripAdvisor that also appear. Users can filter results by property type to make it easier to decide on a hotel.
Once you choose a hotel, the different rate options for room types appear, as well as more details on cancellation policies. Once you select a room, the website will ask you to finally log into your account to make sure you are eligible for these benefits from the FHR program.
Once logged in, the option to pay in cash, points or a combination is available. The number of points grows with the cash rate. Other details available in the search engine are a map of the hotel’s location, the square footage of each room, photos, cancellation policy details and bed types.
When doing a search, some hotels may have a “special offer,” which can tack on additional perks. This can include a free night after staying a minimum number of nights or more valuable perks than just a $100 experience credit. For example, the Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town, offers a sixth night free after staying five nights and dinner for two people.
» Learn more: AmEx Travel Portal: What You Need to Know
What if I already have hotel elite status?
Hotel loyalty programs often provide extra perks for elite members, like breakfast or room upgrades, but members must book a hotel stay directly to be eligible. Since the FHR travel portal is considered a third-party booking site, some hotels may not honor any eligible elite status perks.
FHR has independent and boutique hotels that may not otherwise have a loyalty program. Using FHR benefits is a great way to elevate the hotel stay with bonuses like breakfast and space-available upgrades. Anecdotally, some hotels may still honor hotel elite status perks and award points, but this is not a guarantee.
If you have elite status with a hotel, it might make sense to compare the rates offered via FHR and those of the hotel’s booking channels. Decide which provides greater value based on the perks related to the price. In many cases, FHR can provide substantial value, especially since you earn 5x Membership Rewards points for the reservation.
» Learn more: The Best Hotel Elite Status Programs for 2023
Are AmEx Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits worth it?
Depending on the cost of booking the stay directly with the hotel’s channels and any potential perks of elite status, FHR may provide even more value. Some hotels go above the norm and offer more than $100 in experience credit value, either in the form of a complimentary dinner or a higher onsite credit. Those holding the top AmEx credit cards in their wallet are in for extra bonuses when staying with FHR-member hotels. And the benefits can certainly be worth it in many instances, especially for those without any hotel elite status.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card