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).
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?