My Plan to Maximize the New Amex Platinum $200 Hotel Credit

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After much anticipation and countless rumors, earlier this year American Express announced changes to The Platinum Card® from American Express. Unfortunately, this saw the annual fee jump from an already lofty $550 to an industry-leading $695 (See Rates).

Of course, there was a suite of new benefits to accompany this change, mostly in the form of annual statement credits for a variety of lifestyle uses. Theses include a monthly Equinox statement credit**, an annual credit for an annual CLEAR airport security membership**, a monthly digital entertainment credit** (which frustratingly can only be used at four specific media outlets), and a credit of up to $200 a year for prepaid hotel bookings made through Amex Travel for Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties.

Read more: The Amex Platinum card just increased its annual fee to $695 — but fancy new perks and a 100,000-point offer could take the sting out of it

Platinum Card benefits have historically operated this way, but most of these credits are niche and require jumping through a few hoops in order to use. In fact, the Equinox credit, digital entertainment credit, and CLEAR membership credit aren’t worth much at all to me, especially since there was recently a targeted Amex Offer that was giving away CLEAR membership credits to many non-Platinum cardholders as well (I managed to get enough credits for my entire family to use). 

New Amex Platinum hotel credit

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100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership, plus 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott (enrollment required)
    • Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber
    • Bonus categories leave something to be desired
    • One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards
    • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
    • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
    • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
    • New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
    • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
    • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
    • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
    • $695 Annual Fee.
    • Terms Apply.

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    The hotel credit is probably the new benefit that most people will have the easiest time using, but even still it posed a bit of a problem for me. For starters, I’m loyal to Marriott almost to a fault when I travel. I currently have Bonvoy Titanium elite status, which entitles me to suite upgrades and free breakfast at most hotels I stay at, but that’s only guaranteed if I book directly with Marriott.

    If I booked through Amex Travel I’d risk forgoing my hard-earned benefits and the ability to earn elite night credits to requalify for next year. That’s to say nothing of the cost. Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts partners with some of the most select, luxurious properties around the globe, and it’s not unusual for rates to break $1,000 a night.

    Read more: The Amex Platinum card comes with up to $200 in hotel credits each year — here’s how it works and which hotels qualify

    I love staying at a luxury hotel when I can redeem points to do it for free, but the price tag on most Fine Hotels and Resorts properties is well out of my budget.

    Screenshot of hotel search results list from Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts.

    Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts properties tend to be expensive.

    American Express

    Not wanting to let this benefit go to waste, I managed to take advantage of the $200 Fine Hotels and Resorts credit for an upcoming trip to Chicago. Here are a few strategies I used to get the most bang for my buck.

    One-night stays offer a better value

    One of the best features of the Fine Hotels and Resorts program is that it offers elite-like benefits at non-chain hotels, and at certain chain hotels where you may not have status.

    Read more: The Amex Platinum card gets you access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program for luxury hotel benefits — after a stay in Paris, I think it’s worth the hype

    The exact benefits vary by property, but you can generally expect the following when booking through Fine Hotels and Resorts:

    • Room upgrade on arrival (depending on availability)
    • Daily breakfast for two
    • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late check-out 
    • Noon check-in when available
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi
    • A $100 property credit to be used for food, beverages, or spa treatments

    Screenshot of the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts main page with list of benefits.

    Booking through Amex FHR gets you elite-like benefits, including free breakfast and a property credit.

    American Express

    By far the most tangible benefit here is the $100 property credit. I’ll get to the booking process in a minute, but even after my $200 Platinum Card credit this rate still set me back a few hundred dollars out of pocket.

    Read more: I haven’t paid for a hotel room in 10 years — here’s how I stay for free

    Since the $100 credit is only valid once per stay, you get a better dollar-for-dollar return if you get $100 back and only pay for one night at the hotel, as opposed to two or three or more. We’re going to Chicago to see one of our favorite bands play, and turning it into a long weekend trip.

    We decided to spend the first three nights at a Marriott property (The W Lakeshore, to be exact), using a combination of Marriott Bonvoy points and 35,000-point free night certificates to stay for free, before switching over to The Peninsula for our last night.

    Pick a property with a restaurant you want to eat at

    Amex has a number of Fine Hotels and Resorts properties in Chicago, including The Peninsula, The Waldorf Astoria, The Four Seasons, and more. Rates were roughly comparable between them, and the locations weren’t a deciding factor either.

    Read more: Hotel programs from Amex, Visa, and more can get you free elite benefits like room upgrades and on-property credits — here’s how

    So how did we narrow down where to stay? By focusing on the on-site restaurants, and where we’d have the most fun using our $100 dining credit. As luck would have it, I went to college in Chicago and had always wanted to try Shanghai Terrace at The Peninsula (before, ironically enough, moving to Shanghai).

    There’s a decent chance we would’ve ended up eating here on this trip anyway, so why not enjoy $100 off our bill and the convenience of staying on-site? 

    Consider paying with Membership Rewards points to drop the cost even further

    When booking a prepaid hotel through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, you’ll have the option to pay entirely with your card or to use points for some of the cost.

    Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize Amex Membership Rewards points

    Unfortunately, Amex only gives you a value of 1 cent per point if you redeem this way, which is much lower than you can get if you transfer your points to an airline partner to book flights instead.

    Screenshot showing the points cost of a sample Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts booking.

    Using Membership Rewards points can offset the cost of your stay even more.

    American Express

    Still, if your goal is to use this luxury benefit without spending any money out of your own pocket, you may want to consider redeeming some points to offset the cost.

    Bottom line

    The $200 Fine Hotels & Resorts credit that’s now available on the Platinum Card is tricky to use, especially if you’re loyal to a specific hotel brand or don’t want to pay expensive room rates.

    Still, by focusing on shorter stays, identifying properties where I’d enjoy the $100 credit more, and offsetting some of the remaining cost by paying with points, I was able to get a decent value booking one of the nicest hotels in all of Chicago and making sure the perk I’m paying for didn’t go to waste. 

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    Featured Reward

    3 Free Nights (valued up to 50,000 points each) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus 10x total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases in select categories within your first 6 months

    Featured Reward

    $200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening