Guide to Fine Hotels and Resorts by American Express

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American Express makes it simple to find unique luxury hotels all around the world through its curated travel site, Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR).

The collection of properties is only available to American Express Platinum members—although it can be easy to overlook given all the other travel-related benefits that come with travel cards at the Platinum level.

Booking your next hotel stay through Amex FHR will add several great benefits to your stay. In this guide, we’ll walk through the details of the FHR program, show you how to make a reservation and answer several of the most important questions about Fine Hotels and Resorts.

What is American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts?

American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts is a luxury travel portal reserved for Amex premium rewards members. The program connects eligible members to over 1,000 properties around the world, including a mix of unique independent properties and well-known luxury brands like Fairmont, Four Seasons, InterContinental and Ritz-Carlton.

While you could book rooms at these hotels directly from the hotel website, doing so through FHR comes with extra perks not available to the average customer. American Express is very selective with the properties it includes in Amex FHR and equally selective in who has access to the program.

Currently, the program is reserved for American Express Platinum members. You’ll need either The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express to qualify.

Best perks of the FHR program

Amex FHR offers some great perks that will make your stay at one of its luxury properties even more enjoyable. Here’s what you can expect from a Fine Hotels and Resorts stay:

  • Complimentary breakfast for two every day
  • Guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout
  • Free room upgrade at check-in (when one’s available)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Early check-in where available
  • A special gift worth $100 that’s unique to every property

In all, American Express values these perks at $550 on average, giving you plenty of motivation to book your stay through Fine Hotels and Resorts.

Using the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts portal

American Express FHR provides a relatively straightforward experience to find and book nights at a participating property. You’ll first need to navigate to the Fine Hotels and Resorts portal.

From there, you can search either for the specific property you’re looking for or by destination. Provide your check-in and checkout dates, the number of rooms you need and the number of people accompanying you. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to search.

American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts home page

On the next page, you’ll see a list of results. For this particular example, we searched for properties in New York City, which returned 26 options. You can easily scroll through the options and see the unique property amenity for each hotel and factor that into your decision.

Once you find a property that fits your needs, you’ll be taken to a property-specific page to choose a room configuration—this one’s for The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue. You can also review photos, amenities, location and other guest reviews.

American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts search

After you select your room, you’ll log into your American Express travel account (if you haven’t done so already) and complete your reservation. You’ll earn a total of five Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend on your reservation when you use your Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card to make the reservation.

Can you use Amex points to book FHR rooms?

Yes, you can use the Pay with Points feature on your American Express card to cover some or all of the cost of your stay. You’ll first have to reserve the hotel room using your Platinum or Business Platinum Card, then initiate a Pay with Points transfer.

The points value will appear as a credit on your statement to cover the cost of your hotel. If you don’t have enough Membership Rewards points to cover the full cost, you’ll simply pay the remaining balance on your next Amex card statement. Membership Rewards points are worth $10 per 1,000 points.

Is booking through Amex FHR worth it?

Booking your hotel stay through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts may be a great deal for you, but it will depend on the specific property you choose and how much you value the elite-level perks that you receive for booking through FHR.

For instance, consider the example above at The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue. At the time of writing, the price of a Superior King room booked through American Express FHR was $665 per night. However, when we searched the same room for the same dates — Oct. 30 through Nov. 1, 2020 — directly from the hotel, the price was $598.50 per night.

A comparison of other properties shows the same trend of FHR being more expensive per night than booking directly from the property, but the value of FHR’s benefits can often overcome the deficit as long as you actually use them.

Returning to the example of The Langham, the hotel offers a bed-and-breakfast package that includes breakfast for two each morning, guaranteed 1 p.m. late checkout and complimentary Wi-Fi access—similar to the perks offered from Fine Hotels and Resorts. However, the price of this package for the same room and nights we’ve looked at previously was $715 per night, which is $50 more than the FHR price with fewer benefits.

Do you still earn points or status toward the hotel rewards program?

When you book through FHR using your Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card, you’ll earn 5X points for every dollar—but will you earn hotel-specific rewards as well?

Neither American Express nor major loyalty programs like Hilton, Hyatt or Marriott make it clear whether you can earn points and status upgrades through the property’s rewards program. If you’re working toward elite status with one of these hotel programs, you shouldn’t rely on an FHR reservation to help you get there.

Your best option is to evaluate your reservation as if you won’t receive hotel-specific benefits. If you decide to go with FHR, you can then contact the hotel and ask directly. If they say yes, you can enjoy the elite benefits offered by FHR as well as the points and status upgrades through the hotel loyalty program.

Bottom line

American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts offers some pretty great benefits for people who enjoy staying in unique and luxurious properties around the world. If you don’t already have high-level elite status with a hotel, it could be a great way to enjoy the same level of benefits.

Of course, you’ll have to compare prices between FHR and booking directly with the hotel to see what makes the most sense for you, but FHR benefits can often overcome price differences just by enjoying the complimentary breakfast for two.

While access to Fine Hotels and Resorts probably isn’t at the top of your list of reasons to get the Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card (given their high annual fees), it makes a great—and often overlooked—bonus to pair with the other travel perks that come with the cards.