Big Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Updates (Including 5x Points!)

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At the beginning of the year I wrote about a rumored new benefit coming to the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program. This is now slowly being implemented, so there are a lot of short and long term implications of this.

Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program

I’m a big fan of the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program, which is available to those with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. Through this program you receive additional benefits at over 1,000 luxury hotels around the world. These benefits include the following:

  • Daily breakfast for two people
  • Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
  • A unique property amenity (usually a $100 property credit, free massage, car transfer, etc.)
  • Guaranteed 4PM check-out
  • Noon check-in, subject to availability
  • Complimentary in-room wifi (exclusions apply)

Typically Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings are an especially good deal for short stays, since you get the ~$100 credit once per stay, including for a one night stay. So it’s tough to beat a cheap rate at a hotel while getting an upgrade, free breakfast, guaranteed late check-out, and a $100 credit of some sort.

On top of that, Fine Hotels & Resorts often has third or fourth night free offers, so you can combine the above benefits with that to really get a lot of value. The rate available through Fine Hotels & Resorts is typically the same as the best available/flexible rate through the hotel. So you can’t get these benefits in conjunction with promotional rates, AAA rates, points bookings, etc.

The awesome thing about Fine Hotels & Resorts is that you still earn points in your preferred loyalty program when making one of these bookings, unlike other hotel bookings through amextravel.com.

Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts is currently updating their systems

If you try to book Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts hotels online right now, you’ll notice that a vast majority of them aren’t bookable. This is because American Express is in the process of updating their systems in order to add a major new functionality. So hotels are slowly being added back online, but in the meantime all properties should be bookable by phone.

Amex is introducing 5x points on Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings

Those with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express will soon be able to earn 5x points for Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings through amextravel.com. This functionality is slowly being rolled out online now, and hotels that are eligible will show this feature on the search page.

The catch is that this is only available for bookings through amextravel.com so bookings by phone don’t qualify. Furthermore, this is only available on pre-paid bookings.

But wait a second, aren’t all Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings flexible and not pre-paid? Yes, they are.

This isn’t a traditional pre-paid rate. The way this works is that you essentially have to pay for your stay upfront, but it still has the same cancelation policy as the regular booking. I feel like this will cause a lot of confusion, and that they should choose a different term than “pre-paid,” since in hotel terms that typically means you’re paying in advance and the rate is non-refundable.

If you find a hotel eligible for 5x points, just go through the process of booking like you usually would.

After you select the room type, you’ll be asked if you want to pay now, in which case you’ll earn 5x points, though you’ll still be able to cancel your booking if you’re outside the typical cancelation deadline. Alternatively, you can just pay at the hotel, but then you won’t earn 5x points.

Presumably it also means that you’re only earning 5x points for the room rate, and not for any incidentals (though you don’t have to use an Amex card for incidentals, so you could pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card  or Citi Premier℠ Card to earn 3x points on hotel spend).

My thoughts

I’m excited to see Amex roll out 5x points on Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings, though I do have some general concerns. First of all, I wish they’d make this more straightforward, rather than requiring you to pre-pay for your stay and book through amextravel.com.

Second of all, I have concerns about whether these rates will still count as “qualifying” for the purposes of receiving elite benefits and earning points and elite credits, assuming you’re booking with a hotel that has a loyalty program.

Fine Hotels & Resorts stays have always counted as “eligible” for the purposes of that. However, historically amextravel.com bookings have counted as third party bookings, and it’s no different than booking through any third party, where you typically won’t be eligible for those benefits.

We’ll have to wait and see how this works in practice, and how the intersection of amextravel.com and Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts works.

So this is better than nothing, though I was hoping the roll-out would be a bit more widespread, and wouldn’t require pre-payment.

What do you make of this development?

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Comments

  1. I think on the whole, this is great news for (1) hotel “free agents” who don’t earn elite status with any participar chain through stays and (2) people staying at non-chain or non-loyalty program chains (like the Four Seasons). After all, many of the FHR benefits are what you’d get — or maybe better than you’d get — from being an elite member. Excited to see the change.

  2. This is great because before it is choosing between 5x points or FHR benefits. Now, one doesn’t
    have to. With citi prestige limiting two booking per year for fourth night free benefit, I can see myself booking through FHR to get third or fourth night free on luxury properties including some Amans. While it’s more work booking through Amex online, I think for extra 2 points, I’ll be moving a lot more hotel bookings through Amex business platinum from Chase Sapphire.

  3. @Lucky and @Tiffany. When I try to access the Ask Lucky forum, this message pops up: “Error-Your IP address has been banned.” Why is it banned? I certainly have not posted anything which would warrant this…..

  4. @Daniel B. – are you on a VPN or does your ISP use dynamic IP? If so you might currently be parked on an IP that was previously banned for another user. You can try to refresh your IP and that might help.

  5. @GuruJanitor. It is my work PC, and for years I have been using this PC and network to access OMAAT. Never had a problem before. Since I am not an IT expert, I would rather not try to refresh the IP address in case it messes up something in our network.

  6. Great news – we love the program and love it more now. Only way I know to get extra perk from something like the Four Seasons which does not really have a loyalty program.

  7. Well that changes my decision to cancel the Plat card. I stay at a lot of luxury hotels without rewards programs so this is great.

    I was gonna go Aviator Silver, Gold Card, CSR…. But I guess I’ll hold onto the Platinum

    Still funny it’s a card you have no reason to have in your wallet. All it’s features are for internet purchases.

  8. As long as they don’t remove the elite/hotel points earning. If they do it would make it less useful than before.

  9. If it’s booked that way, no elite benefits. Just like with Citi Prestige and their 4th night free- online bookings not eligible for elite credits or benefits, calling in is.

    I’ve found it hard to find value in FHR even with elite benefits. The senior or AAA discount will more than cover the benefits if you are already getting free breakfast and your stay is more than one night.

    Can you book 2019 yet? That’s another drawback, only the current calendar year has rates settled.

  10. I have booked FHR before and gotten elite points from Starwood. Also got 5X from Amex for prepaying. Maybe that will change?

  11. @Daniel B – Your office probably uses a dynamic IP for computers on the network. If you restart your computer, your IP address may change on its own, or it also could be that your IT department cycles through IP’s at set intervals. If a computer restart doesn’t help, your IT department may be able to do it for you, but obviously browsing OMAAT might be frowned upon at work 😉 so idk if you’d want to go that route.

    If restarting your pc doesn’t work, and unless Tiffany or Lucky can manually unblock the IP you are on, you might just have to wait until it refreshes on its own, which will happen eventually, although there’s no way for me to tell you when.

  12. @GuruJanitor: I have just checked this on my home PC which is on a different network 50 miles from my work: same issue, displays the same message. Since it seems Lucky has not read the comments in this post, I will try emailing him (if I can find his email somewhere).
    Thanks.

  13. Question- Does the prepaid booking have to made with your Amex Platinum card, or will the 5x also apply with using other Amex products (Amex Gold , SPG Amex)? Typically, I have been able to book with FHR and use another method of payment at the hotel as long as it’s another Amex credit card. I would do this often when the SPG cc changed their earning to 6x at their properties. Just curious if anyone knows the answer to this. Thanks.

  14. I’m much more interested in reading about troubleshooting Daniel B’s work PC than I am in Endre’s paid first class flights

  15. @ DanielB — We aren’t blocking you, but there are some issues going on with the forum software on Ask Lucky. I’ve forwarded to the tech team, but I’m honestly not sure what’s involved in fixing it.

  16. This 5x earning for FHR is meaningless for me because I’m simply staying at Hyatt’s for the elite nights earning. For someone who is a hotel brand free agent, this will be wonderful for them.

    As a Globalist, I get slightly more benefits from my favorite Hyatt than if I went with the prepaid FHR route. Losing the stay credit would be unacceptable, but maybe not for others.

    @Daniel B. – open an elevated command prompt, type the following and press Enter:

    ipconfig /release && ipconfig /renew

    If that doesn’t give you a new IP (hopefully you don’t have a static IP), reboot the computer to possibly get another IP. Be advised that you have to be an admin to be able to run those commands. Good luck.

  17. @GuruJanitor and @VX_Flier. Thank you both for your recommendations. Tiffany just said that there is an issue at their end so hopefully once that is resolved, I will get access.
    I have already saved your recommendations and will perform those tasks if the issue persists. Thanks again.

  18. “Presumably it also means that you’re only earning 5x points for the room rate, and not for any incidentals (though you don’t have to use an Amex card for incidentals, so you could pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card or Citi Premier℠ Card to earn 3x points on hotel spend).”

    @Lucky, per AMEX FHR training for hotel employees, you have to pay with any AMEX card for incidentals upon check-out. If you pay with another credit card (Visa etc), the hotels don’t have to honor AMEX FHR benefits.

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