One of the most useful benefits of having an American Express Platinum credit card – and one which genuinely helps me justify the £650 fee – is the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme.
As a reminder, American Express Platinum comes with a generous sign-up bonus. Here is the latest offer:
The Platinum Card from American Express
Sign-up bonus and earn rate:
- Get 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £6,000 within three months
- Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent
- Points transfer at 1:1 into Avios, Virgin Points and other airline and hotel schemes
- Two Priority Pass cards, each allowing two people into 1,400 airport lounges
- Elite status in four major hotel loyalty programmes
- Comprehensive travel insurance
- £300 per year of restaurant credit
- £100 per year to spend at Harvey Nichols
- Annual fee: £650
Representative 704.6% APR variable based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £650 annual fee. Interest rate on purchases 31.0% APR variable.
You will receive 40,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card if you spend £6,000 within three months of signing up.
Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible. You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.
This is the ONLY personal American Express card where you still qualify for the bonus if you already hold a British Airways American Express card.
To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points. This includes The Platinum Card and Preferred Rewards Gold.
You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.
You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held any other American Express card, including the British Airways, Marriott and Nectar cards.
For clarity, you can still apply for The Platinum Card even if you do not qualify for the bonus. You would still benefit from the long list of other benefits.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with an unrivalled list of benefits for the keen traveller.
Your personal travel patterns will determine which of these is the most valuable. The key benefits are:
Full comprehensive travel insurance for you, your family and the family of your supplementary cardholder, subject to enrolment
Two Priority Pass cards, each of which allows the holder and a guest unlimited free access to 1,400 airport lounges
Elite status in four major hotel loyalty schemes: Marriott Bonvoy (Gold), Hilton Honors (Gold), Radisson Rewards (Premium), MeliaRewards (Gold)
Access to Eurostar lounges, irrespective of travel class
£150 per year to spend in over 160 UK restaurants
£150 per year to spend in over 1,200 international restaurants
£100 per year to spend at Harvey Nichols, instore or online (no minimum spend required)
£300 per year of dining credit – £150 to be spent at 150+ UK restaurants and £150 to be spent at 1,200+ restaurants outside the UK
You need a minimum personal income of £35,000 to apply for the card.
The bonus criteria for Platinum is looser than other American Express cards. You can have the bonus as long as you haven’t had a personal card earning Membership Rewards points in the past 24 months.
You WILL get the bonus if the only Amex cards you’ve had in the last two years were a British Airways Amex, Marriott Amex, Nectar Amex, Platinum Cashback or a Business Gold / Business Platinum.
How does American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts work?
FHR, as it is known, is a collection of 1,300 luxury hotels worldwide which commit to offering special benefits to American Express Platinum cardholders when you book via Amex Travel.
These special benefits vary in their usefulness, to be honest, but do add up. They are:
- Noon check-in when available (I value this at nothing! I want it guaranteed or it is useless.)
- Room upgrade on arrival when available (can be very good but not guaranteed)
- Free breakfast for two people (very valuable at expensive hotels)
- GUARANTEED 4pm check-out (very valuable)
- Free in-room wi-fi (valuable, many luxury hotels still like to charge)
- An additional benefit worth $100, usually a $100 food and beverage credit per stay
Where FHR really works for me is the guaranteed 4pm check-out. If you are on a short break with an evening flight home, you really don’t want to be checking out of your hotel at noon. Yes, the hotel will store your bag for you, but it isn’t the same as having full access to your room.
On our occasional trips to Four Seasons Hampshire, pictured above, using FHR allows us to stay one night less and save a significant sum. With young kids in tow, you don’t get much done in the evenings anyway so leaving at 4pm the day before doesn’t make a lot of difference compared to leaving the next morning.
Another situation where FHR comes into its own is on one night stays. The value here can be amazing. Let’s imagine you’re paying £175 for a standard room at a city hotel via FHR, as I used to do often at Park Hyatt Hamburg (now closed, unfortunately). You will get free breakfast AND $100 of food and beverage credit AND a guaranteed 4pm check-out AND a potential upgrade. Your upgrade chances are improved on a one-night stay too as the hotel doesn’t need to have a better room available for multiple nights. You can clearly see how you can get real value here.
The big downside of Fine Hotels & Resorts is pricing. Rates seem to be fixed in advance so it is possible that, if the hotel starts discounting, the FHR rate may be higher than the highest flexible rate on the hotel website. That said, on a shorter stay the $100 food and drink credit usually offsets that and you still have the benefit of free breakfast, late check-out and potential upgrade. I have also had occasions where the FHR rate has been lower than the online rate though.
UK Platinum members should book via travel.americanexpress.co.uk – make sure you are logged in or the FHR rates do not appear.
Warning – be careful about prepaying for Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings
When you make a Fine Hotels & Resorts booking, you will be given two choices – pay now or pay on departure.
If your hotel is part of a chain, you will NOT receive hotel loyalty points or elite benefits if you choose to pre-pay.
The only way to receive loyalty points and elite benefits is to pay on departure.
The only good reason to pay in advance would be if you have some Amex Travel credit to use it from an Amex promotion, or if there is no option to earn points or claim elite benefits from your stay (eg a Four Seasons booking).
Don’t have an American Express Platinum card?
If you don’t have an Amex Platinum card, you can get similar benefits on luxury hotel stays by using a member of the Virtuoso group of luxury travel agents to make your booking.
Emyr Thomas, our hotel booking partner, can access these deals – you can read more about Emyr’s services here.
The key differential is late check-out – Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts guarantees this, whilst Virtuoso does not – and pricing. Virtuoso guarantees that you pay no more than the Best Flexible Rate shown on the hotels’s own website.