Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) Complete Guide: (Free Nights, Upgrades) [2020]

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Despite having the potential for offering a serious amount of value, the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program does not receive as much attention as it probably deserves.

This comprehensive article will show you all of the benefits that this program offers and also give you an idea of how valuable all of those benefits can be to your personal travels. I also compare hotel prices to see if the FHR is really worth it. 

If you’re more of a video person, check out the YouTube video at the bottom of the article for more! 


What is Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR)?

Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, also known as Amex FHR, is a luxury hotel program that offers special perks at over 975 world-class properties all around the world. 

The perks are very similar (and some are identical) to what you receive as a typical hotel elite member but the perks get even sweeter with free nights, hotel credits, and other additional benefits.


How do you get access to Amex FHR?

You can access the Amex FHR online here or via phone by calling Platinum Travel Service at 1-800-525-3355. However, you have to have one of the following cards issued by American Express to use FHR: 

  • The Platinum Card from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card 
  • The Centurion Card (Amex Black Card)

Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts is just one of the many benefits that the Platinum card comes with. Other valuable perks include:

  • 60,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months
  • 5X on airfare and 5X on hotels booked through the Amex Travel portal
  • $200 airline credit and $200 Uber credit 
  • Priority Pass access for you and two guests
  • Centurion lounges access for you and two guests
  • Delta SkyClub access when flying with Delta
  • Hilton Honors Gold
  • Marriott Gold
  • Rental car perks
  • TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry $100 credit

You can read more about the Platinum benefits here.

AMEX Centurion Lounge in Hong Kong (HKG).

What are the Amex FHR benefits?

Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts offers an entire suite of benefits which include: 

  • Noon check-in, when available
  • Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
  • Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
  • Daily breakfast for two people
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Special amenity unique to each property

I will go into detail about these benefits below. 

Check-in and guaranteed late check out

Amex FHR offers noon check-in when available and guaranteed 4pm late check-out.

The noon check in is nice, since many hotels have check in time at around 3pm which can be very inconvenient when arriving early. While the benefit is not guaranteed, at least it gives you a shot of getting into your hotel room earlier than normal.

It’s also worth pointing out that other luxury hotel programs don’t offer an early check-in option so the FHR is unique in that regard. 

The late check out on the other hand is guaranteed and pretty darn late: 4 pm.

Many hotel loyalty programs don’t offer late check out that late, so that’s a very solid perk even if you have status with that particular hotel chain.

For example, I have top-tier status with Hilton (Hilton Diamond), and the latest I usually get for late check-out is 1pm or 2pm. 

Also, other luxury hotel programs like the Chase LHRC only offer late checkout subject to availability.  

Upgrades

Upgrades are probably going to be hit or miss with this program since they are subject to availability but a lot of people have success with getting upgraded. 

Generally you will be limited to upgrades to a better view or a single category above your booked room. So, for example, if you book a standard room then you might get an upgrade to something like a room on a higher floor, a corner room, or deluxe room.

I probably would not be expecting suite upgrades and I would also be aware of the fact that I might not even receive an upgrade since they are based on availability and are not guaranteed.

If you have elite status with one of these properties then obviously that will help your upgrade chances and you should definitely bring that to the attention of the hotel property.

Tip: As a general tip for upgrades, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the types of room categories at your hotel so that you can check on the hotel’s website shortly before check-in and see the real-time availability. 

Don’t be afraid (to kindly) point out to the front desk that there’s availability for rooms one category up that you could be upgraded to.  

  • You can read about some upgrade experiences here.

Breakfast

Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts offers daily breakfast for two people.

At a minimum this will include a continental breakfast but at many properties it will be a full hot breakfast. In fact, the quality (and value) of the breakfast might blow you away at major hotels. 

Depending on how long your stay is at the hotel, this benefit could end up saving you upwards of a couple of hundred bucks.

For that reason, this is a very valuable perk especially for those who don’t have status with some of the hotel loyalty programs that do offer complimentary breakfasts. 

For example, I have Hyatt Discoverist status via the Hyatt card and I’m not offered complimentary breakfasts so booking Hyatt hotels through the FHR makes a lot of sense. 

See related: What hotels offer free breakfast?

Wifi

Complimentary Wi-Fi is provided in room, with the exception of select properties where in-room Wi-Fi is included as part of a mandatory daily resort fee or is not available.

In these instances, complimentary Wi-Fi will be provided in a common space on property. Contact Platinum Travel service for property specific details regarding Wi-Fi.

Special amenity

Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts offers a special amenity unique to each property that is valued at a minimum of $100. 

This is often a $100 food and beverage or spa credit but sometimes it comes in a different form. Here are some examples of what the special amenity could consist of:

  • A complimentary 50-minute massage, for two people per room, once during your stay
  • A complimentary one way private sedan transfer from hotel to airport for two people per room, once during stay
  • A complimentary dinner, for two people per room, excluding alcoholic beverages
  • $150 property credit 

If you are somebody that likes to enjoy a meal or a drink at your hotel, then this benefit really does save you $100 per hotel visit.

If you combine the $100 savings with the free breakfasts allowed, then you can see how quickly the value of the FHR program can start to add up. 

The Conrad Maldives, part of Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts.

FHR Special Offers (huge value potential!)

Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts offers special offers for various properties that you can take advantage of for special savings. This is what really separates FHR from other luxury programs, since you can save so much. 

Many of these offers will have specific time periods for which you have to book your hotel stay and also a specific time that you need to actually stay at the hotel for.

For example, the Baglioni Hotel Carlton offered a complimentary 3rd night when booking a paid stay of at least three nights at Baglioni Hotel Carlton, Milan when booked from July 8 through December 28 for hotel stays from July 8 and completed by December 31. 

  • You can search for which properties are currently offering special offers here.

Free nights

One of the most valuable perks of the Amex FHR program is that you can get free nights during your stay. You can find hotels offering the 3rd night free, 4th night free, 5th night, and 6th night free at different properties.

Out of all of the perks offered by the find hotels and resorts program, the free night benefit is definitely where you have the potential for the most value. One free night could easily save you hundreds of dollars and potentially even offset the annual fee of the Platinum card which is pretty incredible.

For example, the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort had nights priced at $569, which would completely offset the $550 annual fee of the Platinum Card with a free night!

A few hotel programs offer the 5th night free on award stays and the Citi Prestige offers the 4th night free but it’s rare to see a 3rd night free offered. For people like me who rarely stay in one location for longer than three nights, this is a fantastic perk.

Be aware that some types of rooms may be excluded from these special categories. 

Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts free nights.

Property credit

Not all of the special offers are for free nights.

Some of the special offers will offer a “property credit.”

The property credits usually range from $100-$200. Just like the free nights, they also have time restrictions for when they can be used, so make sure to always pay attention to the timeframes for booking and travel.

One of the cool things about these property credits is that they are offered in addition to the hundred dollar property credit that is often given out as unique benefit.

So in the case shown below there’s actually an ability to get $300 worth of free travel just with these two perks alone. When you add in breakfast for two along with a potential upgrade, free Wi-Fi, and even guaranteed late checkout, you can see how the value of just a single stay could very well exceed $500.

It just goes to show how valuable this hotel program can really be.

An example of a $200 credit.

Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts List

It is very easy to search and locate properties that participate in the FHR.

You can click here to go to the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts directory, where you will input the hotel name or the city where you are looking to book a hotel.

You can also choose an entire state or country if that’s what you would like to do.

Also, you can the call Business Platinum Travel Service at 1-800-553-9497 to arrange your booking. 

After you input a destination, you can see the number of search results pulled up for that location. From there, you can click on the hotel property to find out more details and to book it.

The website will show you some basic details regarding the hotel. But what is helpful is that you can see what the unique amenity is at that given property. For example, below is the unique amenity offered by the Conrad Maldives.

As you can see it is not a $100 resort credit but instead they are offering a complimentary lunch or dinner for two people per room. If you have ever stayed at the Conrad Maldives (or any hotel in the Maldives before), then you know how much value a complimentary dinner for two people could hold. Hint: it’s a lot!

I’m not sure exactly which restaurants at the Conrad Maldives they allow you to use this perk at, but I could see this benefit offering well over a couple of hundred dollars worth of value based on their prices.

 

As mentioned there are over 975 world-class properties in the program so writing out a complete list would be a little excessive for this article.

But to give you a sense of what kind of properties you can expect, here are some of the properties you can find in major international cities. 

Hong Kong

  • Conrad
  • Four Seasons
  • Mandarin Hotel
  • The Peninsula
  • Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

Bangkok

  • Park Hyatt
  • Mandarin
  • The Peninsula

San Francisco

  • Fairmont
  • Four Seasons Hotel
  • Loews Regency
  • The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco
  • St. Regis San Francisco

Las Vegas

  • Aria Sky Suites
  • Bellagio
  • Delano Las Vegas
  • Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas
  • Mandarin Oriental
  • The Cosmopolitan 

New York

  • Four Seasons Hotel New York 
  • Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown 
  • Mandarin Oriental
  • Loews Regency
  • Park Hyatt New York 
  • The London NYC
  • The Peninsula
  • St. Regis New York

Hawaii

  • Halekulani
  • The Ali‘i At Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
  • The Kahala Hotel & Resort
  • The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort
  • Trump International Hotel Waikiki
  • Four Seasons Resort Hualālai
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
  • Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort & Spa
  • The St. Regis Princeville Resort

Paris

  • Four Seasons Hotel George V
  • Hotel Lancaster
  • Le Bristol 
  • Mandarin Oriental
  • Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome
  • The Peninsula

As you can see, there are a lot of the premier brands from the major hotel chains within the FHR like Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Park Hyatt, etc. 

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

Do you earn elite points with Amex FHR?

One of the great things about the Amex FHR is that you’ll often still earn your elite points with your loyalty program because the rates are usually considered “qualifying rates.”

In addition to points, you should still be able to earn your elite qualifying nights, too. Another cool perk is that you should be able to utilize special elite perks like upgrade certificates.

But note that there are mixed reports about people receiving their elite qualifying points and nights when booking through FHR. Getting those perks doesn’t seem to always be guaranteed.

Therefore, in some cases you’ll have to work those things out with the hotel, so if you plan on doing that it’s a good idea to call the property ahead of time and inquire about it. 


Do you have to prepay for FHR hotels?

You usually will not pre-pay for these hotels and will instead pay at check-out. 

But that doesn’t mean you can use any credit card.

The terms state:

Payment must be made in full with an American Express Card in the Platinum Cardmember’s name.

This means that you can use any Amex card for payment!

This is big for people with cards like the Hilton Aspire since it has a $250 Hilton Resort Credit. So you could use FHR to book a stay at a Hilton property and receive a special $100 amenity on top of the $250 Hilton Resort Credit. 

Note that the cardmember must travel on the itinerary booked to be eligible for benefits described.

There are some reports of others booking rooms for others and not showing up and still receiving the benefits but I would generally try to follow the terms and conditions here since a hotel could easily deny you the benefits if the Platinum cardmember is nowhere to be found at check-in.

It’s also worth noting that some properties have required deposits at various times. You can read more about those experiences here


Do you earn 5X?

When you use your Amex card to book a pre-paid hotel room through FHR, you’ll earn 5X Membership Rewards, which is extremely rewarding!

Some value Membership Rewards at around two cents per point so that would be like getting 10% back on your hotel stays which is very impressive. 

A couple of things to note:

  • You should note that just because you are pre-paying that does not mean that you lose the flexibility with your cancellation policy. 
  • If hotel reservations are made or modified directly with the hotel provider, the reservation will not be eligible for 5X!

Selecting the 5X option is very simple. After you select the property and select the specific type of room you are interested in booking, you should see the selection for earning 5X the points show up with the option to “Pay Now.”


Are the FHR hotels the same price?

One of the biggest questions is whether or not the FHR hotels are the same price as what you could find on the hotel website or other source. I did some research on a handful of different properties, comparing the FHR price to booking directly, and the results were pretty interesting. 

I found that some of the prices were virtually identical but in other cases the FHR was more expensive. In fact, in the Maldives the FHR was significantly more expensive! Check out the results below. 

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney — Deluxe Room, 1 King Bed, City View (flexible)

  • FHR: $349.30
  • Four Seasons Hotel Sydney: $348.89

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco — Deluxe Room with one king bed (flexible)

  • FHR: $1,391.52
  • Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco: 1,391.58

St. Regis Hong Kong — Deluxe Room, 1 King Bed, City View (flexible)

  • FHR: $772.73
  • St. Regis Hong Kong: $715.98

Conrad Maldives — Superior Villa, 1 King Bed (flexible)

  • FHR: $2,670.40
  • Conrad Maldives: $1,410.48

Park Hyatt Bangkok — Room, 1 King Bed (flexible)

  • FHR: $388
  • Park Hyatt Bangkok: $331.17
     
So for the most part the prices were pretty similar or the FHR was a bit more expensive (with one ridiculous outlier).
 
When the FHR price is more expensive, you need to tabulate how much value you put in the benefits like free breakfast, food credits, etc. In many cases a slightly higher price can be easily justified due to the benefits you will receive through FHR. 

But remember, just because you’re given a $100 credit, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re saving $100 if you normally would not have spent $100 at that hotel. 

I always compare prices with at least two other sources when paying cash for a hotel so I recommend doing the same when booking though FHR.

The Park Hyatt Bangkok rooftop terrace.

How much is the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts worth?

You can get a ton of value from the Amex FHR program.

I’ll break down what that could look like at a hotel called the Baglioni Hotel Carlton in Milan, Italy, where I was able to pull up the third night free.

  • $357 for free night
  • $80 breakfast for two people ($40 each) x 3 days = $240
  • $100 food and beverage credit
  • Three-night upgrade estimate: $300 
  • Early check-in/late check-out: $50

As you can see, it’s very easy to get over $700 worth of travel from this benefit when you can utilize one of the free nights. 

But even if you can’t find a hotel offering a free night that you can utilize, it’s still very easy to get a couple hundred dollars worth of value just from the breakfast and the food and beverage credits offered at these hotels.

So if you’re in the market to stay at luxury properties for about three nights per year, I’d say this benefit is easily worth around $300 to $400, with the potential for even more value as seen above.

It really does amaze me that more people don’t use this program.


Amex Travel vs FHR

A drawback of booking through Amex Travel is that you typically will not be able to earn elite points or elite credits when staying at a hotel. In fact you might also be denied your elite status benefits! 

That’s a major difference between the two programs and it’s one reason why people with hotel status actually don’t mind booking through Amex FHR.


Back to back bookings

Because you’re given some perks per visit, many people think about booking individual nights back to back with the hopes of getting extra benefits. 

The terms and conditions state that “back-to-back stays within a 24-hour period at the same property considered one stay.”

So if you make two separate bookings for back to back nights under the same name at the same property, those bookings will be counted as a single stay. 

Some people get creative and alternate nights by using a spouse or partner with a Platinum Card so that their bookings are not back to back. I don’t think this is majorly frowned upon but I wouldn’t take it too far.

If you book five nights and you and your spouse are checking in and out of the same hotel each morning, it’s going to start looking very odd and could lead to an awkward confrontation. 


Using points to book FHR

You can now use your American Express Membership Rewards to book hotels though the FHR! Points will be worth one cent per point so 50,000 points would cover you for $500 worth of hotel stays. 

If points redeemed do not cover the entire amount, the balance of the purchase price will remain on your card. Minimum redemptions are 5,000 points.


Final word

As you can tell, the Fine Hotels & Resorts program offers the potential for a ton of value. Booking a hotel through this program is essentially like getting an elite status upgrade for that specific property because you are given so many elite-like benefits.

For that reason, I think that this program is great for those people who don’t have elite status with any of the major hotel programs but still want to get a taste of those elite benefits.

And, even if you do have elite status with some of these hotels it can still be worth it to go through this program so that you can capitalize on additional benefits like free nights and special credits for food and beverages.

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2 comments

  1. Great article. If we (wife and I) each have AMEX Platinum card, could we each book back-to-back nights (she book day1 and I book day2) through FHR and thus having 2-night stay? I am guessing check-out and then check-in again.

    Along the same idea, could we alternate days to four nights (she day1 and day3 while I day2 and day4)?

    1. Thanks. People have successfully done the back to back thing in the past. Not sure about recent data points but it’s still probably doable. You could alternate each night but you might start pushing it once you go over 3+ nights of checking in and out and in and out of the same hotel. They might still honor your bookings but it could be awkward if/when they caught on.

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