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If you’ve been following the news in our hobby, you’ve probably already heard of the “enhancements” recently added to The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Annual fee is now $695 (Rates & Fees) for new accounts opened on or after July 1, 2021 
  • For existing cardmembers, the new annual fee will take effect on the annual renewal date on or after Jan. 1, 2022. 

In exchange, the cardmembers will get the following benefits (enrollment required for some benefits):

  • Up to $20 monthly statement credit on eligible purchases or subscriptions with Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM and The New York Times
  • Up to $25 monthly statement credit on purchases of select Equinox Fitness Club monthly memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+  
  • Up to $200 annual statement credit valid for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express travel
  • Annual statement credit for a CLEAR membership up to $179 in statement credits per year after you pay for CLEAR with your card
  • Access to the new Global Dining Access program by Resy, giving access to premium events and other perks, like priority notify and VIP status
  • Premium Private Jet Program – access to a 20% discount on Wheels Up Connect and a 40% discount on Wheels Up Core memberships; also get up to a $500 or $2,000 credit added to your Wheels Up account to use toward your initial flight within the first year, depending on your selected membership

The existing credits aren’t going away and currently include:

  • Up to $200 back in statement credits each year in incidental fees on a member-selected qualifying airline
  • Up to $15 monthly credit (plus up to $20 bonus in December) towards Uber rides or Uber Eats orders in the United States 
  • Up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit for in-store or online purchases at saks.com, with a $50 credit in January through June, and up to $50 credit in July through December
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit up to a $100 once every four years

The latest changes are certainly controversial, some will view them as positive changes that justify the increased annual fees and some will view these as just more hoops to jump through to justify the significant fee increase. I am in the latter camp, but there’s one change that I wanted to bring to your attention. 

How to Stack the $200 Annual Hotel Credit for Deep Discounts 

$200 hotel credit

Both my husband and I are Amex Platinum cardholders, and we are actually planning a trip to Europe later this summer. As soon as I saw the recent news on these updates, my wheels started turning. How can I leverage this new benefit to get a deeply discounted stay? 

American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts and the Hotel Collection Benefits

The following benefits are available with each Fine Hotels + Resorts booking: 

  • Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
  • Experience credit, such as a spa or food and beverage credit. (varies by property and valued at a minimum of US$100)
  • Daily breakfast for two people
  • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late check-out
  • Noon check-in, when available
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

And the Hotel Collection properties extend the following benefits to Amex Platinum cardmembers who book at least two consecutive nights through Amex Travel:

  • $100 onsite credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities
  • Room upgrade at check-in, if available

Those benefits all sound great on paper, but I’ve often found Amex Travel hotel prices to be much higher than booking through another avenue or directly with the hotel. But today’s announcement of the $200 hotel credit definitely piqued my interest so I decided to dig a little deeper.  

My Deeply Discounted Hotel Booking 

The $200 annual credit only applies to prepaid bookings made directly with Amex Travel and only on the Hotel Collection or the Fine Hotels + Resorts properties. However, when you search for hotels on Amex Travel, you’ll also be shown hotels that don’t participate in these two programs. So the first thing to do is to filter the search results and only look for FHR and the Hotel Collection properties. 

Search results fpr FHR and Hotel Collection properties

A word of caution – these reservations may be considered to be a third-party booking, so you might not get elite benefits or elite qualifying nights. Some bookings through Fine Hotels + Resorts often classify as direct bookings, so it might be a toss up. However, there are plenty of lovely non-chain or local chain hotels in Europe, so that’s never been an issue for me. 

After I ran my search I saw that Amex Travel is currently running a compelling promotion.  When you book two nights at a participating property, you’ll get a third night free. The start and end dates vary by property. I’ve seen different end dates, from Sept. 6, 2021, to Dec. 27, 2021. 

hotel booking

As I mentioned earlier, Amex Travel prices are often higher than if you were to book direct and the properties seem to be on the high end and more expensive side. However, this time I found a reasonably priced Hotel Collection property. The hotel was competitively priced and the added $100 on site credit (which we are hoping to use for hotel breakfast) made this deal super attractive. 

The price shown in the search results will already reflect the third night free discount. 

hotel booking details

Don’t forget to select a prepaid rate and select Use Only Your Card option at checkout. 

payment options

So with the $200 Amex hotel credit, the three night stay will cost me less than $100, and I’ll get a $100 property credit. 

Final Thoughts

The new Amex Platinum benefits unveiled are certainly controversial. However, the $200 annual hotel credit could be useful. If you have any upcoming trips planned, or would just like to get away for a few nights, check the ongoing free night FHR and the Hotel Collection promotion. Seems like there are different start and end dates for this promo, so check your desired property to see how you can save even more.  

The credit only applies to prepaid rates and the stay needs to be booked in the cardmember’s name. According to the terms and conditions the credit should post 90 days after an eligible charge is posted, but in my experience similar credits post much faster. We’ll see if that holds true here, as this is a brand-new benefit.

Travel well,

Anna

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