Guide To Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) Program

Guide To Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) Program

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The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program is a popular benefit that many with the Amex Platinum like taking advantage of. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the program, including how to maximize it — while FHR can add value for cardmembers, it’s not quite as invaluable for luxury hotel stays as many assume.

What is Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts?

The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program offers elite-like perks when staying at 1,200+ luxury hotels around the globe. This includes all kinds of luxury hotels, from independent properties, to Ritz-Carltons, Park Hyatts, Waldorf Astorias, etc. You simply have to book an FHR rate through American Express at an eligible property, and you’ll receive several additional perks, ranging from free breakfast, to a room upgrade, to a hotel credit.

A few things to note about the Amex FHR program:

  • The Amex FHR program is available to those with The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (review)
  • You can search Amex FHR rates and find eligible hotels through this link on the Amex website
  • In order to take advantage of Amex FHR benefits, you need to book an eligible rate, which is typically equivalent to the best flexible rate offered through the hotel; you can’t get FHR perks on most special rates being offered directly by hotels, whether it’s a members only rate, AAA rate, pre-paid rate, etc.
  • To use Amex FHR, you need to pay for your hotel stay with an American Express card, though it doesn’t have to be the Amex Platinum; you could potentially maximize points by using a different card, if you’d like
Receive extra benefits at Aman Tokyo with Amex FHR

What perks does Amex FHR offer?

When booking through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, you receive the following additional benefits:

  • Daily breakfast for two — this could be a full or continental breakfast, depending on the property
  • A room upgrade — this is available upon arrival subject to availability, and while it’s typically a one category upgrade, you’ll sometimes do better than that
  • A $100 experience credit, once per stay — this could be a $100 food & beverage credit, a $100 spa credit, a $100 property credit, or a free lunch for two, as it very much varies by property
  • 12PM check-in, subject to availability — since this is subject to availability, I wouldn’t value this too highly, since most hotels will let you check-in at noon if a room is open
  • Guaranteed 4PM check-out — this is a valuable benefit, as you’re guaranteed 4PM check-out when booking through Amex FHR
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi — most hotels offer complimentary Wi-Fi nowadays anyway, so I don’t value that too highly

As you can see, the benefits here really adds up. Amex claims that the FHR program offers an average of $550 of value per stay, though obviously that can sometimes be significantly more, and sometimes it can be significantly less.

Enjoy complimentary breakfast with Amex FHR

How do you make an Amex FHR booking?

The process of making an Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts booking is pretty straightforward. Just go to the American Express Travel website, and log into your account associated with an Amex Platinum.

Then do a search for a hotel — you could just search a city, or you can search a specific hotel name. For example, let’s look at hotels in Hamburg, Germany.

On the next page you’ll see a bunch of hotels listed. Since this is the Amex Travel website, you’ll see dozens of hotels listed, but look for the ones that have “Fine Hotels & Resorts” written next to them. You can also filter by this on the left side of the page.

When you click a specific hotel you can review the amenities, and specifically what the “unique” $100 amenity is at a hotel (in this case it’s just a $100 property credit, which gives you the most flexibility).

Then you can compare rates by room type, and select your preferred room.

And then you can choose if you want to pay right away to earn 5x points, or want to pay when you get to the hotel (more on that below).

As you can see, this is usually a pretty straightforward process, though sometimes I find the Amex Travel website can be a bit wonky, and requires you to call to make a booking.

How do you maximize value with Amex FHR?

While the above are the basics of how the Amex FHR program works, I figured I’d talk a bit about some of the other tricks that you can use to maximize value with the program, since the above is only the beginning.

Earn 5x points on Amex FHR bookings

When you make your Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts booking you can earn 5x Membership Rewards points with the Amex Personal Platinum Card or Amex Business Platinum Card. There’s one major catch — you have to pay for your entire hotel stay upfront. Note that even though you’re pre-paying, the stay still has the same cancelation policy it would usually have, so that doesn’t mean you 100% have to make the stay or lose all your money.

For many people the full prepayment requirement could be a challenge, or not be worth the trouble, especially if you’re booking an expensive trip a year in advance. However, it is an option to be aware of.

Note that if you’re not going to pre-pay for your hotel stay and earn 5x points, I’d recommend using a different Amex card at the hotel to settle your bill. While you have to pay with an Amex when using Amex FHR, you don’t have to pay with the Amex Platinum. For example, you could instead pay with the Amex Green Card, which offers 3x points on travel purchases (including hotels).

You can earn 5x points on Amex FHR stays

Use your $200 Amex Platinum hotel credit

New as of 2021, the Amex Personal Platinum Card offers a $200 hotel credit every calendar year. The way this works, just book a hotel through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection using American Express Travel, and you’ll receive an annual credit of up to $200.

You could use this perk in a single stay, so this will essentially knock $200 off the cost of your first booking each year.

Use your $200 Amex Platinum hotel credit on an Amex FHR booking

Earn hotel points for your Amex FHR bookings

If you’re staying at a luxury hotel that belongs to a major hotel loyalty program (like an InterContinental, St. Regis, etc.), note that Amex FHR bookings are eligible for earning points and elite nights in your preferred program. You can get even more value from these stays by racking up points, and potentially stacking elite perks.

You can still receive elite perks on Amex FHR bookings

Take advantage of Amex FHR free night offers

In addition to all the perks offered through Amex FHR, the program also sometimes has a free night offer at a hotel. This could come in the form of a third, fourth, or fifth night free offer. If this is available, you’ll typically see it listed directly when doing a search.

Alternatively, you can browse Amex FHR free night offers here.

Receive a free night for select hotel stays with Amex FHR

Don’t pay for your Amex FHR booking with points

American Express has the Pay With Points feature, whereby you can redeem points towards a variety of purchases. You can use Amex Membership Rewards points to pay for Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings at the rate of one cent per point (which is at least better than the redemption value for other hotels). That means you could book a $300 hotel for 30,000 Membership Rewards points.

However, personally this isn’t how I would choose to redeem Amex points. I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, and that’s thanks to the ability to transfer points to partners. If you have the right card, you can even get more value by using the Pay With Points feature for flights, which would be my preference.

There are better ways to redeem Amex points than FHR

Make short stays to get the most value

You can often get the most value through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts by booking short stays. Why? One of the amenities is a roughly $100 credit that you get once per stay. If you’re staying for just one night, the value of that is significant, since it’s like a $100 credit for one day. Meanwhile if you’re staying for a week, that credit is spread out over a lot more days.

So in the past I have been known to do some hotel hopping so that I had shorter stays, giving me more credits.

Maximize $100 credits by hotel hopping

What is Amex’s The Hotel Collection?

Since this can cause confusion, I think it’s briefly worth talking about The Hotel Collection, which is another Amex program that offers perks at hotels. This is available at over 600 hotels, and think of it as a slightly lower end version of Fine Hotels & Resorts.

The Hotel Collection is valid on stays of two or more nights, and offers a $100 hotel credit plus a room upgrade subject to availability. As you can see, it’s not quite as generous as Fine Hotels & Resorts, but then again, you’ll also find less expensive hotels belonging to this collection.

The program is worth being aware of, but you’ll never have to decide between Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection for a given hotel stay, since each hotel only participates in one or the other.

The Andaz Munich belongs to The Hotel Collection

Why Amex FHR isn’t actually that valuable

The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program can offer a lot of value for your hotel stays. That being said, there are lots of other programs available through travel advisors that offer similar (or sometimes even better) perks without the need to have a specific credit card. There’s a lot of overlap in terms of the hotels and benefits.

Just to give some examples:

How do you decide whether to book through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or one of these programs? The one material advantage of FHR is guaranteed 4PM check-out, which none of the above programs offer (some programs offer late check-out subject to availability, but not guaranteed).

That being said, there are quite a few benefits to booking through these programs over Amex FHR:

  • Generally a hotel group wants you to book directly through its “own” program, and incentivizes it accordingly
  • For example, groups like Four Seasons and Hyatt will prioritize upgrades for those booking through their own program over those booking through a third party program like Amex FHR or Virtuoso
  • The individual hotel programs also sometimes have better promotions — sometimes they may offer bonus points for bookings, sometimes they allow other non-flexible rates to be combined with these perks, sometimes they have more participating hotels, etc.
  • The execution of certain benefits may be better through a hotel group’s own program as well — for example, when booking through Four Seasons Preferred Partner you also have the option of enjoying room service breakfast, rather than just being able to dine in the restaurant
  • You don’t need a specific credit card to take advantage of any of these programs, and for that matter you can pay for your stay with any credit card, potentially allowing you to better maximize points

So I usually end up booking through the individual programs, and don’t use Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. That being said, I certainly use it when I have a short stay and value 4PM late check-out, and I’ll also use it going forward at least once per year to get value out of my $200 annual Amex Platinum hotel credit.

Upgrades may be better through a hotel’s own program

Bottom line

The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program is a great option for those with the Amex Platinum Card to enhance their stays at luxury hotels. FHR offers elite-like perks without any sort of loyalty, and these benefits could include breakfast, room upgrades, hotel credits, and more. Best of all, with the new $200 hotel credit on the Amex Platinum Card, you can stack these great perks with savings.

While the program can come in handy, I wouldn’t really view this as a major reason to get an Amex card. That’s because very similar — and in some cases, better — offers are available through other hotel programs available through travel advisors, which don’t require having a certain credit card.

If you’ve used the Amex FHR program, what was your experience like?

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  1. Jeff

    I just booked a couple of stays with Hyatt through FHR and in both instances was told that because the stays were booked via a third party they were ineligible for elite credit. Curious if others have had a similar experience?

    The hotels were the Andaz Maui and the Grand Hyatt in Vail.

  2. Alex

    What is the best way to utilize 2021 $200 credit if I don't have travel plans for this year. Can I book and prepay next year's stay?

  3. NYGuy24

    Careful with the room upgrades. I booked with FHR and I got a one category upgrade. Basically it was an upgrade to a different view and the room was priced exactly the same as the room I paid for so I really didn't receive an upgrade at all.

  4. Bgriff

    It's no longer reliably the case that you can earn hotel points on FHR stays. Stays made through the website seem to show to the hotel as an Expedia booking, so are typically ineligible for hotel points and elite benefits. I believe there are some reports that if you call Amex to book and make a postpaid booking, you do usually still get the benefits, though (but you can't combine that with the 5x points or $200 credit).

    1. NYGuy24

      I got 5x points, $200 credit and hyatt points all in one. Just required contacting the property.

  5. Luke

    Hotels that are under $200 a night under FHR are a great bang for the buck, and definitely so for single night stays since the one time $100 credit is the same regardless of stay length.

    Recently stayed at the Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner that had the rate for $149 plus tax through FHR. After subtracting the $100 credit and free breakfast factored in, the room was virtually "free"!

  6. Kevin

    I've been a fan of the FHR program for many years, and used it as recently as last week at the Fairmont Banff and Fairmont Jasper (quick trip right when Canada reopened to vaxxed US travelers!). But you're right, the hotel programs themselves sometimes have more value. For example, booking directly through Fairmont Banff also gave a benefit of complimentary parking at the nearby Fairmont Lake Louise, and parking in Lake Louise is nearly impossible...

    I've been a fan of the FHR program for many years, and used it as recently as last week at the Fairmont Banff and Fairmont Jasper (quick trip right when Canada reopened to vaxxed US travelers!). But you're right, the hotel programs themselves sometimes have more value. For example, booking directly through Fairmont Banff also gave a benefit of complimentary parking at the nearby Fairmont Lake Louise, and parking in Lake Louise is nearly impossible after 7am so it's a very valuable. I was able to convince the Fairmont Banff concierge to extend the benefit to me, but it technically wasn't included as a FHR booking. Still, I easily offset the annual cost of my personal Amex Platinum just on this trip via the $100 credits, included breakfasts, and room upgrade. I do at least 4-5 FHR bookings a year.

  7. ckaught78

    I could be wrong but in my experience you have to stay a minimum of 2 nights to get the benefits. Also, it can be an annoyance but then needing to make a change such as adding or removing a day you can't modify am existing reservation, you have to cancel and rebook which .at be at a more expensive rate. Depending how far in advance you book it may be worth looking up the...

    I could be wrong but in my experience you have to stay a minimum of 2 nights to get the benefits. Also, it can be an annoyance but then needing to make a change such as adding or removing a day you can't modify am existing reservation, you have to cancel and rebook which .at be at a more expensive rate. Depending how far in advance you book it may be worth looking up the same property from time to time because prices due fluctuate. i did this on a upcoming trip I booked months ago, the price came down a couple hundred dollars so I cancelled and rebooked.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ ckaught78 -- While The Hotel Collection has a two night minimum, Fine Hotels & Resorts doesn't. And good point about the pain of canceling and rebooking.

  8. geoff

    Ben, you may have mentioned this but is there anything stopping anyone from making multiple different consecutive reservations at the same property to get multiple "one-time" perks like the stay or spa credit?

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ geoff -- If you're staying back-to-back at the same hotel on consecutive nights, that wouldn't qualify for additional credits. It's a different story if you switch up hotels, though, and return a couple of days later.

    2. Alex King

      But what if it was 2 consecutive stays, on on my Amex Plat the next on the wife's Amex Plat?

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Alex King

But what if it was 2 consecutive stays, on on my Amex Plat the next on the wife's Amex Plat?

Jeff

I just booked a couple of stays with Hyatt through FHR and in both instances was told that because the stays were booked via a third party they were ineligible for elite credit. Curious if others have had a similar experience? The hotels were the Andaz Maui and the Grand Hyatt in Vail.

Alex

What is the best way to utilize 2021 $200 credit if I don't have travel plans for this year. Can I book and prepay next year's stay?

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