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A few days ago we discussed the three high-end flexible points credit cards on the market. In the process, we compared the distinctive benefits of each card and whether (if at all) they can co-exist. A reader reminded me that I forgot to mention The Hotel Collection by American Express.
By no means is this a comprehensive view of the program, but I wanted to hit some of the key details.
The Hotel Collection Benefits
The Hotel Collection is a collection of hotels (mind = blown) from American Express, and with any stays of 2 or more nights, you get a $75 folio credit for dining, spa, etc. within the hotel, as well as a room upgrade subject to availability.
Holders of the following American Express cards have access to The Hotel Collection:
- Gold Card
- Premier Rewards Gold Card
- Platinum Card
- Business Gold Rewards Card
- Business Platinum Card
- Centurion Card
Selection of Hotels
Some of you might be familiar with the Fine Hotel & Resorts (FHR) Program available to Platinum and Centurion card holders. The Hotel Collection is a completely separate program from FHR, and hotels don’t usually participate in both programs. Think of The Hotel Collection as a more economical alternative to FHR.
As an example, I looked at hotels in Beijing for early October. I found only two hotels under The Hotel Collection. Only the Conrad was bookable for any date I searched in October.
Meanwhile, there are 8 Fine Hotel & Resorts properties. The price ranged from $195 at the St. Regis Beijing to $809 at the Aman Summer Palace Beijing.
Comparison to Fine Hotel & Resorts
American Express Platinum and Centurion cardmembers also have access to the Fine Hotel & Resorts (FHR) collection. FHR offers the following benefits:
- Noon check-in when available
- Guaranteed 4 pm late check-out
- Room upgrade, subject to availability
- Daily breakfast for 2 people
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Property-specific benefit (e.g. $100 food and beverage credit, $100 spa credit, free dinner)
I wasn’t able to find a hotel that participates in both programs. In general, the Hotel Collection appears to be higher end hotels at a relatively economical price, while Fine Hotel & Resorts are distinctively luxury properties. If the prices are comparable, FHR properties are clearly better.
Frequently Asked Questions
I figure I would also discuss a few potential questions regarding the program.
Q: Do you have to use the American Express Gold/Platinum card to pay for the stay?
A: According to AMEX, you can use any American Express under your name to pay for the stay. You can even use traveler’s checks or AMEX gift cards, but you cannot use cash or any other issuer’s card.
Q: Do I receive the credit if I book more than one room?
A: You only receive one credit per room, per stay. However, you can receive a credit up to 3 rooms in one stay. This means if you are traveling with friends and family, you can book up to 2 more rooms other than yours and receive a separate credit for each.
Q: Will my stay (booked through The Hotel Collection) count as elite-qualifying?
A: AMEX did not provide a clear answer. However, the way the program functions and the way reservations are sent through means it mostly likely will not count.
Getting Your Benefits
You must book your stay directly with America Express on AMEXTravel.com, or by calling the number on the back of your card.
In researching The Hotel Collection, I also came across a training video AMEX produced. It is mandatory for all hotel front desk and reservation staff. Interestingly, AMEX contracts out to Orbitz to send reservations through. As a result, a The Hotel Collection reservation will apparently show up as one made through Orbitz. However, it will be marked with either “AMEX_THC” or be include in a daily AMEX report to the hotel.
This program seems to be best for business travelers that won’t be able to expense charges like alcohol, spa, activities, or pay-per-view movies. Leisure travelers that otherwise don’t have elite status might also benefit, since the credit could cover parking, breakfast, etc.
Have You Taken/Will You Take Advantage?
To be honest, this is a program that I seldom remember to check when I’m booking a hotel stay. It’s not a benefit that is often talked about, apparently even within American Express! I tried to make a dummy booking over the phone (you can also book online), and the agent had no idea what I was talking about. She kept bringing up Fine Hotel & Resorts, which, as we have discussed, is a totally separate program.
For those of you who have taken advantage, did your stays count towards elite statuses? What was your experience?