I am all about saving when it comes to travel. Many might not realize, that you can actually enjoy luxury hotels with upgrades and benefits, without hotel status. One way to save and enjoy great benefits is to use hotel booking programs from credit card companies. Previously, we covered the Chase Luxury Hotel Resort Collection, which you can read here.
Another program receiving some new attention is the American Express Fine Hotel and Resorts program. The American Express Platinum card and other platinum cards like the Charles Schwab Platinum, have a $200 credit towards a prepaid stay with FHR or the Hotel Collection. The Hotel Collection requires a two night stay, however the with FHR, you only need to book one night. I also did a story highlight on our Instagram on of my recent stays regarding the FHR and LHRC programs in Las Vegas.
With FHR, you’re essentially booking a hotel through American Express Travel. You get some included benefits with the hotel booking, which includes:
- Room upgrade when available
- Daily breakfast for two (usually $30 per person)
- Guaranteed 4pm check out
- Noon check in when available
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Experience credit such as spa or food and beverage credit ($100 minimum)
You can also may earn your elite status points or nights in some cases. An example would be earning Hyatt points in Las Vegas on properties part of Mlife program. This varies by program and by property.
Keep in mind that the $100 credit is actually per stay and not per night. This differs from the breakfast benefit, which is daily. The $100 credit is usually towards a spa treatment or for food and beverage. One way to maximize this credit is to book different hotels each night in cities with multiple hotels participating in the FHR program, if easy enough and accessible.
The program has evolved and eliminated many of the sweet spots that used to exist in Las Vegas. additionally, all not hotels may be available at all times ands are subject to availability.
For this booking example, I will look for hotels in Las Vegas, my favorite FHR sweet spot. While this particular hotel has recently disappeared from the program, I am hopeful it returns. Still a great example of the steps that are taken on a booking. FHR can be a great booking tool even without the $200 Amex Platinum credit. Many times these hotels are only $100-150 a night (plus resort fee), but you are getting at least $160 between breakfast and food and beverage credits.
According to the FHR terms & conditions, bookings must be in the cardholder's name and paid using the card that has FHR access or another American Express card.
In addition, you need to show an Amex card at check-in, which will be swiped for incidentals. You technically do not need to present the card you used to make the booking; any Amex card will do. But a lot of hotel employees don't know the fine print and can give you a hard time for not presenting the card used for booking. If you just hand them an Amex card, you should be fine. But to make life easier, just bring the card you used to make the booking.
For this booking, I am trying to get a prepaid room that will price out at $200 (before resort fees). Remember, the $200 Amex Platinum credit only applies to prepaid stays. This does not necessarily mean non-refundable, but it's still worth checking all the fine print. Any amount up to $200 will be credited but I try to maximize it in one stay.
If searching through Amex Travel instead of directly through the FHR website, make sure the hotel you select is an FHR hotel with benefits, since Amex Travel also shows non-FHR hotels in its search results.
Make sure you log in before proceeding through a booking. If you want to use your Platinum credit, then choose a room that is at least $200 to pay today. The resort fee will be charged during your stay.
In this search, the total comes to $259.63, which would be paid today. That means your stay would only cost $59.63 if using the $200 credit (plus the resort fee of $44.22, which will be charged during the stay). This booking would also get you daily breakfast for two ($30 per person per day) and also a $100 F&B credit.
Then just simply pay with your Amex Platinum card and you are booked.
As a final reminder, you can still come out ahead by booking through FHR even if not using your new Platinum statement credit. Many nights in a city like Las Vegas come up at a low rate. This Delano rate example starts at $116, which ends up being $175 with resort fee. Again, you are getting $160 in the breakfast and F&B credits, so still getting tons of value. I have paid as little as $98 on bookings through FHR before.
While my example focused on Las Vegas, keep in mind, this is a worldwide benefit. Prices in many locations may be expensive, however like any other travel, flexibility helps. The American express travel search feature also has the ability to search by state or country.
Multiple Card Use
This has also evolved with the program. If you have multiple platinum cards in your household or you travel partner has one, you used to be able to utilize these back to back. American Express recently added “anti gaming” language that limits this and the benefits you may receive.
Back-to-back stays booked by a single Card Member, Card Members staying in the same room or Card Members traveling in the same party within a 24-hour period at the same property are considered one stay and are ineligible for additional FHR benefits (“Prohibited Action”). American Express and the Property reserve the right to modify or revoke FHR benefits at any time without notice if we or they determine, in our or their sole discretion, that you may have engaged in a Prohibited Action, or have engaged in abuse, misuse, or gaming in connection with your FHR benefits.
So while you still may be able to utilize the $200 credit, your additional benefits may be limited. That can vary by each resort and like we say in this hobby, your mileage may vary (ymmv).
A Few Tips
Spreading your nights across different hotels where possible will get you a separate $100 experience credit at each hotel. Authorized users can use the $200 credit, you only get one credit per card account. Also, I have heard of people getting resorts to convert the spa credit to food & beverage or something else if an appointment is not available at the spa during their stay.
Another possibility is to do one night with FHR and one with Chase LHRC. I always compare rates between the two programs. My favorite double dip is doing Delano and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas since they sit on the same property essentially.
If you stay multiple nights at the same resort, you can check the FHR special offers page, which includes added perks such as third or fourth night free and added benefits.
Finally, as another reminder, always make sure you are logged in when booking. Secondly, always make sure the email and charge on your card specify an FHR booking. On my last stay, even though I had to log in to use my Platinum card, the system glitched and booked a regular stay. Amex fixed the issue with great customer service, but I could have saved myself some time. I was so used to using the program that I didn't double check my charge or email.
The FHR program is a great way to enjoy great benefits at hotels when you don't have elite status. Plus, with the new $200 credit on Amex Platinum cards, you can save even more money. Las Vegas is only one of the sweet spots for this program, and there are plenty of other possibilities worldwide.
Have you used the FHR program? Come over to our Facebook group and share how you've maximized the FHR program.