These American Express cards can get you a free room upgrade and US$75 hotel credit

An introduction to Amex's The Hotel Collection program and a comparison to FHR

GUIDE: Program Guide
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 4 minutes
POSTED: November 19, 2018
UPDATED: November 20, 2018

The Hotel Collection is a special benefits program for a select group of American Express Card Members and comes in handy when looking for perks at high-end hotels rather than the ultra high-end properties that the Fine Hotels & Resorts program covers separately.

This program could be useful when your or your company’s budget does not allow for the expense of staying at a super luxury hotel but when you still want to get a US$75 hotel credit and complimentary room upgrade (on stays of two nights or more).

In this guide, I explore the benefits of The Hotel Collection (THC) program, how to search for participating properties, a comparison with the Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program, how to make a booking and key terms to be aware of.

The benefits

Stay two or more consecutive nights and you’ll receive the following two benefits:

  • a US$75 hotel credit to spend on dining, spa and resort activities
  • a complimentary room upgrade at check-in (subject to availability)

Eligible cards

In Australia, Card Members holding one the following products can access this benefit:

Some of these cards do not accept new applications.

How to search for hotel locations

There are four ways to search for hotel locations on the THC website:

Comparing The Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels & Resorts

In short, Amex’s The Hotel Collection is the poorer cousin of the Fine Hotels & Resorts program.

So why do the two programs exist? Because FHR is only accessible to Platinum, Business Platinum and Centurion Card Members but they want to give more people access to hotel benefits, so they have created both programs with an overlap for these premium Card Members.

So, if you hold one of the eligible cards, when would you choose THC over FHR?

First of all, they have completely separate participating hotels. THC is focussed on more economical high-end hotels, including chain hotels, whereas FHR is targeted at much more expensive ultra high-end hotels.

You will only find the ultra high-end The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo through the FHR program

If you are travelling on business, you may not be able to justify a quite expensive stay at an FHR property, so a THC booking may be a better choice. You will receive that US$75 room credit plus a room upgrade if available. Note that you will not earn hotel loyalty program points on bookings with THC.

If you do have a bit more cash to splash, then I would recommend skewing towards an FHR property to enjoy a higher-quality hotel and more benefits, including an increased US$100 room credit, free breakfast, and early check-in and late check-out. You will earn points on bookings through FHR.

Bookings through FHR are eligible for benefits for stays of one night or more, whereas you need to stay at least two nights with THC.

Whilst both THC and FHR have 11 properties in Australia (with no overlap), as an indication of the extent of the programs in the rest of the world, FHR has almost three times the listings that THC does in the Asia-Pacific region.

A comparison of pricing through Amex Travel and booking directly with the hotel

I researched booking a standard room at five different hotels in New York with a flexible cancellation policy for a two-night stay over the Friday and Saturday nights of the Easter weekend. All quotes are in US dollars.

You will see that there is very little difference (if any) between booking through Amex or direct:

PropertyAmex Travel priceBook direct price
Hyatt Centric Times Square$1358$1336
InterContinental Times Square$1004$1003
JW Marriott Essex House$1037$1037
The Roxy Hotel Tribeca$1063$1063

On the surface, you can save $22 by booking directly through Hyatt…

…but you will come out on top once you factor in the US$75 credit you will get by booking through Amex Travel

If you are not worried about hotel status, then booking through Amex Travel makes sense in all cases examined as the US$75 credit makes up for any price saving from booking direct.

If hotel status is important to you, then you may want to consider how much you value that in choosing your booking channel.

As always, it pays to do your research!

How to make a booking

You can make a booking at a THC property:

Amex Travel specialists and hotel staff are generally more familiar with the FHR program, so if you run into any difficulties in getting THC benefits you are entitled to, perhaps direct them to this The Hotel Collection training video produced by American Express.

Key terms and conditions

  • Payment must be made in full with an American Express card in the Card Member’s name
  • The cardholder must be staying in the room/one of the rooms
  • The one-category room upgrade is based on availability and eligibility at check-in to the hotel
  • There is a three-room limit per Card Member per stay
  • Back-to-back stays within a 24-hour period at the same property are considered as one stay
  • If the Card Member cancels their room, any additional rooms will no longer qualify for benefits as the eligible Card Member must be staying at the hotel
  • There are data points that suggest that American Express travel credits cannot be used on The Hotel Collection bookings

Full terms and conditions of the benefit are available here.

Summing up

The Hotel Collection program benefits business travellers whose companies may not allow for stays at super luxury Fine Hotels & Resorts properties.

The US$75 credit is handy for use on dining services for which you are already being reimbursed or spa and resort services that your company usually does not allow you to spend money on.

Having said that, if your hotel elite status is important to you, you may prefer to book directly with the hotel as your status and associated benefits will most likely not be recognised for bookings made through The Hotel Collection.

Have you had any success getting these benefits through The Hotel Collection? Which American Express card/s do you hold?

Supplementary images courtesy American Express.

These American Express cards can get you a free room upgrade and US$75 hotel credit was last modified: November 20th, 2018 by Matt Moffitt