Why Amex Platinum Fine Hotels and Resorts Benefit is worthless to me.

So I found myself at 7pm on 12-31-22, once again trying to figure out a way to use the American Express Personal Platinum card Fine Hotel and Resorts $200 annual credit. For those living under a rock, this benefit is supposed to be a way to claw back some of the overpriced annual fee. It is basically as useful as most hotel discount rates. I’d compare it to the IHG Ambassador free weekend night benefit but less useful due to the limited locations for the average person.

So I sound really negative but here is why. If you look at the entire list of FHR or Hotel Collection locations there are entire states and major cities without a single location. The Proud Money blog has a nice list for example. Sure California, New York, and Florida all do pretty well but 1 location in Indiana and none in Kansas are just a few examples of holes in this program. This doesn’t even mention locations all over the world that either lack any locations or only have a few (which are all super expensive of course).

Ok so I’m mad I couldn’t figure out how to use this again for the 2nd year in a row and 2023 isn’t looking promising. Maybe I’m just bitter so I’ll give you an example of why this program isn’t worth anything to me.

This is a summary from the Amex website that makes this sound awesome. I’ll overlook the fact that it’s now 2023 and Wi-Fi, like Color TV, should be included at all hotels for free anyway. In some odd way, Amex is promising “strong coffee” but I assume that comes at a price.

Amex promises extra benefits on FHR 1-night prepaid stays or Hotel Collection 2-night stays in addition to the $200 rebate. You can book it far in advance and get the benefit once per calendar year so you could book your 2022 benefit into 2023 and then use the 2023 credit as well. This all sounds good but unless you are already planning to pay for a stay at one of these higher-end properties it might not be your best rate, by far.

So one potential location that would have worked for me is an upcoming trip to Israel that I’m considering so I checked Israel. I was in luck as there are several properties there that could work. Let’s compare the rate for one.

A web search finds the IHG Intercontinental Tel Aviv for $314 per night on Google Maps. Now, this isn’t 100% fair since the $314 is a prepaid 3rd party OTA site and doesn’t include taxes most likely but even the IHG website has it for less than about $350 a night for most nights. But let’s look at the Amex website. Keep in mind that as an IHG member with just about any status at all you will earn bonus IHG points., late check-out, etc. so this offsets any Amex 5x benefits except for the food credit which is usually around $100 if you want to eat at the hotel while in Tel Aviv.

$415 seems high compared to the $314 on Google? Weird that this is around a $100 difference, huh… Now I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that not all FHR properties are like this. I have found a few that are about the same but at the end of the day, you still aren’t getting the best rate. No such thing as a free lunch as they say.

For this hotel, I could also use around 60,000 IHG points for a free night which I could likely buy at around .5 cents per point or less so about $300. Since I’m an IHG Ambassador status person I’ll likely skip the Amex benefit but this is just one example of many that I’ve found.

I’ve been able to use the $200 airline credit at less than $200 in value for misc junk like miles and such. I’ve also made good use of the Saks $50 credit but I bought stuff I really didn’t need at a store I don’t love, at prices that are much too high so I don’t value that at $100 per year. I think I’m going to have to downgrade my Platinum card for 2023 back to Gold so I at least get 4x at restaurants.

Bottom line: Are there some deals and value to be found with this benefit? Sure, but not for most people, and certainly not for me. When combined with the higher fees and the new 2023 limits on Centurion Lounge access the Amex Platinum card is no longer worth it to me.

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