We frequently get questions from readers about American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings as they often display to their partner hotels as Expedia bookings.
What also often confuses customers is that it’s not clearly communicated how these reservations are treated as far as points and elite eligibility is concerned.
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) is a special program for Platinum and Centurion cardholders that offers hotel bookings where special benefits are conferred.
The basis for any FHR booking is usually the Flexible Standard Rate a specific hotel has listed which means that most often it’s more expensive than the best available rate. It’s important to compare the rates and value the benefits realistically.
Cardholders can enjoy the following benefits:
- Early check-in when available
- Room Upgrade (room type not specified)
- Daily full breakfast
- 4 PM Late Checkout
- Min. $100 Experience Credit (usually a F&B credit but some hotels only give a spa credit)
The credit is key here. It’s important to value it correctly and make sure that an appropriate outlet is available at the hotel where it makes sense to use the $100 (some hotels such as the Conrad Las Vegas even give $125). If the hotel only has excessively overpriced f&b outlets or – even worse – just a spa option then the value is greatly diminished.
Then there is the actual confusion part. Why is the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts booking displayed to hotels as a third-party booking by EXPEDIA?
Here is an example for my upcoming stay at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok:
The reason is that Amex Travel at least in the U.S. uses an Expedia booking channel rather than a direct booking through a GDS. I’m not completely sure when that changed but it’s definitely not a good thing.
This goes for other Amex Travel bookings as well including bookings through The Hotel Collection. While the benefits are usually conferred correctly once at the hotel, someone who only looks at the booking superficially just sees it as a third-party booking by Expedia.
Designating the booking as such also confuses people when it comes to the question of eligibility for earning points and elite nights/stays when booking FHR hotels.
The easy answer is that all FHR reservations are fully eligible for elite and loyalty credits in the major programs.
For example my last stay at the Conrad Las Vegas and how it earned points with Hilton Honors:
This was definitely one of the best value stays I had in the past years. The upcoming stay at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok for a special occasion should be good too.
Of course, you get the most value for one-night stays as the $100 credit is the same no matter if you stay one night or ten nights. In fact, when staying many nights I’d probably check for cheaper rates rather than overpaying with the FHR rate every day. The advantage: Elite status is not needed. That being said, anyone who is eligible to book Amex FHR (Platinum, Centurion) also has access to a range of hotel elite tiers such as Hilton Gold.
Those who do not have a premium Amex card can use similar programs without affiliation such as Virtuoso, Impresario, Hyatt Privé, and Marriott Luminee just to name a few. Specific travel advisors are able to book these rates (easy to find them online).
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings are still a mystery to many and the system isn’t well known in the first place. I’m surprised when talking to longtime Amex cardholders who have never heard of this benefit. It has gotten a bit more publicity since last year when Amex U.S. introduced the annual $200 hotel credit.
The stay will always collect points and tier credit and the hotel itself knows it’s not an actual Expedia booking, they do see the underlying conditions.
I’d always compare the prices and options, not book a hotel blindly because it’s associated with American Express. I find Amex Travel to be absolutely horrible and try to avoid them as much as possible. Some bookings do make sense however and it’s good to keep the card around for the time being.