If you have select American Express cards, you could be missing out on several hundred dollars worth of perks, upgrades, and resort credits by booking hotels through normal channels.
Instead, make use of the often overlooked Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits to supercharge your next vacation for about the same amount of money you would have spent anyway.
What is the Fine Hotels and Resorts program?
The Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program is an exclusive hotel-booking option for travelers holding specific credit cards. FHR offers competitive rates and complimentary benefits at over 1,000 hotels and resorts worldwide. Example locations include:
- Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
- Fairmont San Francisco
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
- Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome
- The Watergate Hotel
These properties are usually luxury resorts in desirable locations where travelers go to be spoiled. The FHR program provides a higher level of benefits than most travelers would normally expect when they book a hotel reservation.
What perks do I get with a Fine Hotels and Resorts reservation?
When booking a Fine Hotels and Resorts room, you’re guaranteed to receive additional benefits that make you feel like royalty. Your perks are on par with elite status at many hotel chains, even if this is your first stay with that brand.
These are the perks that you’ll receive with every FHR reservation:
- Room upgrade upon arrival (when available)
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout
- Noon check-in (when available)
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Additionally, you’ll receive a special property amenity valued at least $100 at every FHR hotel. The exact amenity varies from hotel to hotel but usually includes a food, beverage, or spa credit.
American Express estimates that Platinum cardholders receive an average value of $550 in benefits per two-night stay every time they book a Fine Hotels and Resorts package.
Which credit cards have access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts program?
The Fine Hotels and Resorts perks are limited to American Express' most exclusive charge cards and credit cards. You may access these benefits if you have the personal Platinum Card, the Business Platinum Card, or the Centurion Card.
The Platinum Card from American Express offers many benefits, including the chance to earn up to 5X points per dollar spent; access to 1,200 airport lounges; and over $500 in annual credits.
Small business owners rely on the Business Platinum Card from American Express to receive many of the same benefits as the personal version. However, business owners enjoy extra perks only available to them. When they redeem Membership Rewards points for business or first-class air travel, they’ll get a rebate of 35% of the points used. Additionally, cardholders receive 5X points on qualifying flights and prepaid hotels, 1.5X points spent on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1X points per $1 spent on other purchases.
The Centurion Card is the most exclusive American Express card — and one of the most elite cards on the market, too. Often referred to as simply "the black card," the Centurion Card is available by invitation only. Rumors suggest that you need to spend $250,000 to $500,000 on your credit card just to be invited to apply.
|Card||Annual fee||Welcome bonus|
|The Platinum Card||$550||Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months|
|The Business Platinum Card||$595||Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months from account opening|
|The Centurion Card||$2,500||None|
How to book a Fine Hotels and Resorts reservation
You can book a Fine Hotels and Resorts reservation in one of six ways:
- Platinum Travel Service
- Business Platinum Travel Service
- Centurion Travel Service
- Any American Express Travel office
- The Agency Services Desk
Although there are over 1,000 hotels and resorts in the FHR program, not all are listed online. For a complete list of resorts available in the city you wish to travel to, speak with a customer service agent.
Take note that all reservations will be paid upon completion of travel, except when you book a prepaid reservation online.
One of the perks of the personal and business Platinum Cards from American Express is that you earn 5X points when you book prepaid reservations with AmexTravel.com. When you book reservations over the phone or in person, those reservations are not prepaid. Therefore, they’ll only earn one point per dollar.
Special promotions add even more value
Beyond the standard benefits available, some Fine Hotels and Resorts hotels offer promotions for even greater value. These promotions usually include a free hotel night or an additional amenity.
Some examples of FHR special promotions include:
- Baccarat Hotel and Residences New York: Complimentary fourth night
- Beach Village at The Del, Curio Collection by Hilton: $200 food and beverage credit on a stay of at least one night
- The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park: $325 property credit when you stay three or more nights
8 facts you need to know about the FHR program
There are some nuances of the Fine Hotels and Resorts program that you should know before booking your reservation.
1. You might earn hotel points from your FHR stay
Most hotel loyalty programs require you to book direct in order to earn points for your stays. However, we've seen anecdotal evidence that you could actually earn points on FHR stays, depending on the property. This is likely at the hotel’s discretion, however. So if earning hotel points on your FHR stay is a priority, ask a hotel employee to confirm.
2. Receive elite perks on your first stay
To receive elite perks when staying at a hotel, travelers are usually required to have stayed a certain number of nights or hold the hotel's credit card. With FHR, you'll receive perks comparable to hotel elite status, even if this is the first time you've stayed at that hotel brand.
3. You can use Pay with Points for your room
Through AmexTravel.com, you can pay for a portion of your hotel room using your Membership Rewards points. However, points are only worth one cent per point when redeemed this way. With the ability to earn 5X points per dollar spent, you may be better off paying cash for your room and saving the points for another redemption.
4. Short stays can really pay
FHR reservations receive the $100 property amenity no matter how short the hotel stay is. With some reservations, that perk could offset a significant portion of the cost of your room. For example, if your room was $300 for the night and you receive $100 or more in amenities, that benefit is worth 33% of the cost of your room.
5. Book multiple rooms to share the perks
The cardmember who made the reservation must be on the itinerary and stay at the hotel in order to receive Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits.
However, cardholders can book up to three rooms per stay. There’s a limit to one benefit package per stay, but that doesn't stop you from sharing the special promotions with your travel companions.
6. When Wi-Fi is free, you get additional perks
If the hotel you’re staying at includes Wi-Fi in the mandatory resort fee, you'll receive a daily credit from the property when you book your reservation with FHR. The amount you'll receive is equal to the standard amount that the property charges for Wi-Fi.
7. Make use of the lowest hotel rates guarantee
If you book a prepaid hotel reservation with Fine Hotels and Resorts and find the same room for the same dates at a lower price online (before taxes and fees), Amex Travel will refund you the difference.
8. Back-to-back stays count as one
Savvy travelers may try to book several consecutive one-night stays to receive extra benefits. However, back-to-back stays within 24 hours at the same hotel count as only one stay. If you want to maximize these perks, you'll need to move to a new hotel.
Is booking with Fine Hotels and Resorts right for you?
When you're not using hotel points to travel, explore the options available through Fine Hotels and Resorts. With all of the amenities offered, staying at a luxury resort might be comparable to the mid-level (but boring) hotel you were considering. Depending on your situation, it might even make sense to splurge a little on your hotel to receive all of the extra FHR benefits while cutting back someplace else.
Best Luxury Travel Benefits
The Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card from American Express
- 60,000 Membership Rewards points welcome offer
- 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
- $15 in Uber cash for U.S. rides each month (plus a bonus $20 in December) and $200 airline fee credit each year
- Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
- Terms apply