The Hotel Collection Mini Guide: Prepaid rates earn hotel points/perks, and more surprising finds

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Recently Amex Platinum cards added a new benefit: Earn back up to $200 per year on Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) or The Hotel Collection (THC) prepaid bookings.  We already knew that FHR prepaid bookings earn hotel points and are eligible for elite benefits, but I didn’t think the same was true of THC bookings.  I was wrong.  They do.  In this mini guide, I’ll describe that feature and other surprising findings about The Hotel Collection…

Find and Book

Start here to find all Fine Hotel & Resort (FHR) and The Hotel Collection (THC) properties in the United States.  To change to another country or continent, click “Update Filters”. If you’d prefer to search within a narrower region (such as a single state within the U.S.), start here and select the region of interest.

If you want to narrow the search to only THC properties, click the checkbox labelled “The Hotel Collection.”  You can toggle the view between “View List” and “View Map”

Benefits

Despite the image above showing five benefits, there are really only 3 worth mentioning:

  1. $100 onsite credit for qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities
  2. Room upgrade at check-in, if available
  3. Platinum card members get 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar

These benefits pale in comparison to Fine Hotels & Resorts which offers the above benefits plus daily breakfast for two; noon check-in, if available; guaranteed 4pm late checkout; and complementary wi-fi.

Even though Amex lists the ability to pay with points on prepaid bookings as a benefit, please do not do this with THC bookings.  You’ll get less than 1 cent per point value that way.

Prices often (always?) match standard rates

I comparison shopped a number of hotels to see how THC booking prices compare to booking direct with the same hotels.  In every case, The Hotel Collection rate matched the hotel’s own standard rate.

It’s important to understand though that it’s almost always possible to book a hotel for less than the standard rate when not booking through THC.  For example, most chain hotels offer discounted member rates.  Many hotels offer discounted AAA and government rates.  And you’ll frequently see promotional rates on a hotel’s website that are significantly cheaper than the standard rate.  Also, when booking directly, you may be able to earn additional points or cash back by starting your search through an online shopping portal.  You can’t do that with THC.

So, when making a THC booking, make sure that the benefits outweigh the extra cost vs booking directly.

For tips on finding the best prices when your dates are flexible, see: Find your own Fine Hotels & Resorts deals (the same techniques work for The Hotel Collection).

Must book at least 2 nights

The Hotel Collection requires booking at least two nights in order to get the advertised benefits ($100 hotel credit and room upgrade).  That I knew.  What surprised me is that you also need to book 2 nights in order to earn the Platinum $200 prepaid hotel credit.  Hat tip to reader Brennan for pointing this out.  Brennan wrote:

As a couple others have noted, I also received Hilton diamond benefits as well as points on a Hotel Collection 2 night stay that qualified for the $200 credit. One thing to note…a one night booking at a hotel included in the “Hotel Collection” coded as “Amex Travel” on my statement and did not trigger the credit. It seems you actually need a 2 night stay for the charge to code as “Hotel Collection” and get the $200 credit. You can’t book a one night stay, forgo the $100 F&B credit and still get the $200 credit.

For the record, Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings offer all benefits and credits even on 1 night bookings.

Earn hotel points and elite perks on prepaid stays

We often warn against booking chain hotels through online travel agencies like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc. because when booked this way you won’t earn hotel points or elite benefits on your stay.

Amex works differently though.  When booking a chain hotel through either Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection, you will be eligible to earn hotel points and elite credits, and you’ll be eligible for elite benefits during your stay.  This is true regardless of whether you make a prepaid booking or opt to pay at the hotel.

This is great news because it means that we can stack all of these rewards on stays:

  • Up to 5x Membership Rewards points when you pay with a consumer Platinum card.
  • Up to $200 back when you pay with a consumer Platinum card.
  • Hotel points for the stay (for example, most Marriott hotels offer members 10 points per dollar plus extra points for elite members).
  • Elite nights for the stay (for those seeking elite status with the hotel chain, the nights spent at a participating hotel will add to your qualification requirements)
  • Hotel promo benefits (hotel chains often offer promos with extra points or other perks)
  • Enjoy FHR or THC benefits during the stay
  • Enjoy hotel elite benefits during the stay (when they are different from the FHR or THC benefits)

Prepaid bookings are refundable

Another reason many people don’t like to book prepaid hotel rates is that they are usually non-refundable.  That’s not true of THC or FHR prepaid bookings.  Most search results show up front that the hotel offers “Flexible Cancellation”.  When checking out, make sure to note the exact date by which cancellation is required for a full refund.  This will often be the day before check-in.

You can’t split payments for prepaid bookings

If you have multiple consumer Platinum cards, you may be tempted to book a single prepaid stay and split the charge across your Platinum cards in order to earn the $200 prepaid hotel rebate on each one.  Unfortunately, you can’t.  There’s no option to split payment online, and I wasn’t able to get that done via the phone either.

Fine Hotels & Resorts vs. The Hotel Collection

In many ways Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) is better than The Hotel Collection (THC):

  • FHR offers benefits on 1 night stays, THC requires 2 nights.
  • FHR offers better benefits than THC.  THC offers only a property credit plus a chance of a room upgrade.  FHR offers the same plus daily breakfast for two; noon check-in, if available; guaranteed 4pm late checkout; and complementary wi-fi.
  • There are far more FHR hotels worldwide than THC.  At the time of this writing there are 1,258 FHR hotels and only 633 THC hotels.
  • When using points to pay for FHR bookings you’ll get 1 cent per point value.  When using points to pay for THC bookings (please don’t!) you’ll get less than 1 cent per point value.

There are a couple of ways in which The Hotel Collection (THC) is sometimes better than Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR):

  • THC hotels are usually more affordable than FHR hotels.
  • THC hotels may meet your destination needs better.  For example, in Michigan there are 2 THC properties but no FHR properties.  Similarly, in Asheville, North Carolina, I found 3 THC properties but no FHR properties.

 

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Oliver

Last year, I booked a 2 night stay at a Hyatt hotel via The Hotel Collection. My thinking was that I will get my breakfast via my globalist status and will be able to use the $100 elsewhere. I hope it works!

David Pumpkiner

Greg and Nick. I hope you guys can help me with an issue I am having booking 2 night stays on some Hotel Collection Properties, specifically the Sofitel in Montevideo, Uruguay and the NH Villa de Bilbao in Spain. When I try to book 2 nights, the properties are correctly labeled as Hotel Collection but show as not available. If you try to book them 1 night at a time, the same dates magically appear, but it is not a “hotels collection” reservation so it does not trigger the $200 credit. I have called Amex Travel several times and I have had different reactions: from puzzled (as they cannot book 2 nights either) to downright rude and despondent: “you are wrong, these are not hotel collections properties”. Do you guys think you could do a bit of research on this? Both properties show up under $200 a night most nights.

Frank

If I stay at a FHR that is a Hilton, and, I have Diamond status with Hilton, can I get a double upgrade?

Anthony

I made a 1 night booking at Marriott in Florence thru the Hotel Collection and received the $200 credit. Although I changed my travel plans and cancelled that and received a refund. I am now looking at other hotels and I can’t make a 1 night Hotel Collection booking right now. But I was able to do it a few weeks ago.

Anthony

My bad sorry it was a Fine Hotels+ Resorts booking not the Hotels Collection, I forgot that can be booked for just 1 night.

Steven

Just saw my prepaid Marriott hotel Collection reservation post on my Bonvoy account as an upcoming stay. Assume I’ll get elite night credits plus points. Took a week though.

[…] This was a really good guide, I think I can manage to squeeze the $200 Platinum hotel credit somehow: The Hotel Collection Mini Guide: Prepaid rates earn hotel points/perks, and more surprising finds. […]

Mark J Dumic

Very helpful article Greg. You guys are the best when it comes to points & miles. Thanks for everything you do for this hobby. Is it possible to book a Hyatt for 2 days through The Hotel Collection and upgrade to a suite for 6,000 points by calling Hyatt? Would a FHC reservation show up under my account if I provide my Hyatt number?

Randy

I just want to check the balance on my gift card

Kimbray

Just thinking creatively. If you have status with Hyatt as an example )or even Marriott), could you book multiple one night stays via different platinum CCs and then call brand and get them to bridge reservations so you don’t switch rooms. Granted you ahve to check out and in eveny day but could be benifitial to use all the $200 credit per CC. Or do the same with Hotel COllection for every 2 night stays. Possible?

Jan W

P2 and I have three Plats between us and I had been considering stacking all three, but I see your point. Do you think it would be safe to only use one P1 and one P2 back-to-back since there are two separate people (for FHR)? The one night stays make for alot of packing and unpacking…. thanks.

Frank

I am missing something: If I book these through AMEX how do I give my Hyatt Globalist or Marriott Platinum account number?

Nick Reyes

There is a field to enter it. You do have to find of hunt for it, but it’s there.

RD DD

So when adding Hyatt – you can’t do it online because it only lets you add numbers – no letters so I had to call up the property and do it that way

Rob

Thanks! This is super helpful. Was wondering that exact same thing re: Hyatt. I’m Globalist so the Hotel Collection use of the AMEX hotel credit actually can make a lot of sense to use at a Hyatt property. Out of curiosity, did you actually receive your status benefits during your stay after you called and gave them your info? Also, did your stay load onto your Hyatt app under the “Stays” section once you gave the hotel your membership number?

Jennifer

I was booking a 3 night stay in Lyon, France for next month at the Intercontinental using the certs from my IHG card, but was only able to get the last 2 nights of the 3 I needed on points/certs. (P2 has some certs, too.) So, I booked a paid rate for the first night through FHR for about $325, which comes with breakfast, late check out and $100 property credit. I have already received the $200 AmEx credit. I emailed the property and they combined our reservation so we don’t have to change rooms. I had looked at their menu in advance and am excited to try their prix fixe dinner with the $100 credit, so I feel good about that use of the FHR credits and the IHG certificates.

Todd

Gregg, so when booking Fine Hotel stays, the $200 platinum credit will apply for even 1 night only? Thanks!

Nick Reyes

Yes, you can get the $200 credit on 1-night Fine Hotels & Resorts stays.

Tony

I’m Caesar’s Diamond (thanks to your site), and would normally have resort fees waived. Do you know if the hotel would waive the fee at check-in if booked through Amex?

Nick Reyes

I don’t know for sure, but I strongly suspect they would. There is a field to enter your loyalty number during the booking process (I think you have to expand it — somewhere it says “enter loyalty number” or something and I believe you have to click it to open that field. Put your Caesars number in there.

The Other Sam

We just used this Amex THC $200 credit at the Canopy by Hilton in Zagreb 4 days ago. Each night was $105 with taxes, so after our 2 night stay, we had to pay $10 out of pocket. My wife’s Amex Platinum gave her gold status at the Hilton, so we could use the $100 credit on dinner and drinks, rather than breakfast. We did receive a room upgrade, as well as some fruits and chocolates upon arrival.

I had considered using the $200 credit in the fall at a property within a day’s drive of our suburban Philly home, and I really looked for a FHR property that wouldn’t require much out of pocket expense, but I kept striking out. We had previously planned be in Zagreb for 2 nights, my existing booking with Thankyou points was totally refundable, and I thought this was a decent use of a $200 credit that would go to waste when 2021 ends.

Biggie F

You already won the squeeze-the-most-value-out-of-this-credit competition — so you don’t need advice from me. This said, from suburban PHL, RC Tyson’s Corner is a good FHR play (the basic rate tonight is $195 [checked that on hotel web site, not FHR]). I mean, the traffic is awful, but you can still probably get from PHL to Northern Va a bit faster than to Zagreb.

The Other Sam

Thanks, Biggie! I’ll explore that option in 2022!

The Other Sam

Yup. This was the best advice. Writing you from the Ritz in Tyson’s Corner; my wife and I are awaiting our just-under-$100 dinner. One question- what is there to do in Tyson’s Corner?

Biggie F

LOL. Nothing, as far as I know. I guess we did have tickets for a concert at Wolf Trap once or twice.

Just booked W-A Trianon Versailles for next month. $300/ai on a Friday night. Dinner in the bar is do-able for $100 (especially if they remember to hand us our chit for 2 free drinks at check-in), and the brunch tends to be good and copious enough (in some really great surroundings) to make this feel almost like a money-maker.

Evan

Are these once per calendar year or per cardholder year?

Miguel Diaz

nice info greg but I called amex they told me even some hotel doesn`t require 2 nights to get the credit is that true

DSK

Great write up! I have no idea of the answer but you might—is there any way to stack a FHR stay at a Ritz with those suite upgrade certificates I receive from the Ritz Carlton credit card and never seem to use?

DSK

Thanks. Figured it was a long shot but hadn’t thought of the call Marriott after making the reservation approach. I may try that. Leads to an interesting dilemma though—if I am paying full price anyway, is it better to go for the free breakfast and guaranteed late checkout through FHR or better to go for the guaranteed suite using the Ritz Carlton certificates? Not sure I personally know how I would come out on that.

Biggie F

Yeah, the club access can be pretty special. I have heard, for example, that Barcelona is a fun town to visit. But I would have no way of knowing given that we couldn’t get ourselves out of the lounge at the Hotel Arts Barcelona (a Ritz-Carlton).

With that out of the way — and everyone’s view on this next point may be different — I would say that the Covid situation has tipped the balance with respect to what I want from a higher-end hotel. The better room with FHR has more appeal than club access, since you can spend time in the former without a mask on; while it’s hard to eat and drink in a club with a mask on.

DSK

First of all to Biggie F–thanks for the suggestion about the Ritz in TC. I happen to be in the Northeast as well, and had been striking out with the credit so will definitely check that out.

I kind of have a mixed view of the Ritz Club Lounge situation. In general, they are expensive (whether in the daily cost or the higher room rate). We paid up for it in Bali and the Ritz Club Lounge there was amazing, but with the cost of the Club Lounge we ate exactly one meal of our five day Ritz Carlton visit outside of the Club Lounge. We stayed in Barcelona at the Le Meridien and they had a (obviously non-Ritz) club lounge (free for Titanium) but it was nothing special so it forced us to get out a bit. We had some great meals outside of the hotel sitting at restaurants in the middle of the street that we would have missed otherwise.

Melissa

Super helpful, Greg! Love the summary. For example if Hilton has their Stay 3 nights and get 1 free (I see this is an option in the AMEX REWARDS) – can this be applied to my card and when I book say Hotel Del in Coronado Island, CA via FHR portal, do I book for 4 nights here but the extra night will automatically be refunded to my Amex? Or can you not double dip on the free Hilton night AND the FHR perks? thanks