Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
One of the lesser-known perks on select American Express cards is access to The Hotel Collection. This program offers room upgrades and hotel credits for dining, spa and resort activities when you stay for two or more nights at select hotels.
To use this benefit, you need to have an eligible card and book a participating hotel through American Express Travel. But using the Amex Hotel Collection to book your next hotel stay may also save you money and improve your experience.
In this post, I’ll take a closer look at The Hotel Collection and compare it to the better-known to help you understand what to expect and how to take full advantage of the benefits.
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How The Hotel Collection works
Only cardholders of the following American Express cards can book hotel stays through The Hotel Collection:
- American Express® Gold Card
- American Express® Business Gold Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (requires a minimum two-night stay)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Centurion Card (invite-only, both business and personal versions are eligible)
If you have one of the above cards, then you'll have access to the following benefits when you book through The Hotel Collection (terms apply):
- A room upgrade at check-in when available
- Up to a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities
- 2x Membership Rewards points when you use your Gold card for prepaid bookings
- 5x Membership Rewards points when you use your Platinum card for prepaid bookings
- The ability to use Pay with Points on prepaid bookings
However, you'll only get these perks when you book a stay at an eligible property through American Express Travel. And there's a minimum stay requirement of two nights for Hotel Collection stays. Finally, back-to-back stays within 24 hours at the same property are considered one stay and won't get multiple $100 hotel credits.
Related: Should you use points or cash to book hotels?
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What to know about The Hotel Collection
Before you book a stay through Amex's Hotel Collection, there are several aspects to keep in mind.
Pay with Points
You will see the option to Pay with Points when you book a stay with Amex's Hotel Collection. However, you'll only receive 0.7 cents of value per point redeemed, which is less than half of TPG's valuation of Membership Rewards points, at 2 cents each.
Especially since Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders earn 5x points for prepaid reservations made through American Express Travel, this is a case where it's better to pay for your stay and save your points for higher-value redemption options.
Related: Here are 9 of our favorite ways to use Amex Membership Rewards points
When you search, beware that Amex displays only the base rate (which excludes taxes and fees). For example, I saw a nightly rate of $89 for a sample two-night stay in November at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. But, the actual cost is $145 per night after all taxes and mandatory hotel fees.
The fine print for the Hotel Collection notes that hotels can add additional government taxes and fees as well as hotel-imposed taxes, fees and deposits when the hotel charges your card. So, you may need to call the hotel and ask about its policies to ensure you're aware of the total cost of your stay.
Related: 4 Las Vegas hotels raised resort fees — here’s how to avoid them
Elite earning and perks
Additionally, most hotel loyalty programs won't give elite earnings and benefits if you don't book direct. And, although you may get elite earnings and benefits when you book some hotels through the , you typically won't when you book through The Hotel Collection. As such, if you have hotel elite status with one or more brands, you may find it best to only book through The Hotel Collection with properties outside your primary loyalty program(s).
Related: Booking direct: How much value does Marriott status provide?
Properties in The Hotel Collection
The Amex Hotel Collection includes a range of both popular brands and smaller boutique properties. Here's what I found when searching for Hotel Collection properties in three popular tourist destinations. Note, the pricing and availability are as of publishing and may be different when you search.
I picked a date this winter and performed a search for properties available in New York City. My search returned 19 Hotel Collection properties.
The least expensive Hotel Collection property for my dates was the Ink 48 Hotel at $389 per night before taxes and fees. Meanwhile, the most costly Hotel Collection property for my dates was the JW Marriott Essex House New York at $929 per night before taxes and fees.
Related: 8 easy New York City escapes you can get to in three hours or less
On the other end of the price spectrum is Phoenix in the summer, which stands out for having some of the lowest prices for hotels featured by these types of programs. I got eight Hotel Collection results when I searched for a weekend in July.
The least expensive Hotel Collection property in Phoenix for the weekend I searched was the Tempe Mission Palms, a Destination by Hyatt Hotel, for $169 per night before taxes and fees. Meanwhile, the most expensive property for the weekend I searched was the Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale for $319 per night before taxes and fees.
Related: Road-tripping from Phoenix? Here are six destinations to set your sights on
If you're looking to travel internationally, there are plenty of Hotel Collection properties abroad. For example, a search for a stay in Rome, Italy, returned nine Hotel Collection properties.
In Rome, Italy, the least expensive Hotel Collection property was the NH Collection Roma Giustiniano, for $163 per night before taxes and fees. Meanwhile, the Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese was the most expensive property for $438 per night before taxes and fees.
Related: Italy is reopening: 11 things I learned as a tourist there this week
The Hotel Collection vs. Fine Hotels & Resorts
The (FHR) program offers more valuable benefits. But, the FHR program is only available to Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders. Booking through the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program can get you the following elite-like perks:
- Noon check-in when available
- Room upgrade when available at check-in
- Daily breakfast for two
- Free in-room Wi-Fi
- Guaranteed 4:00 p.m. late checkout
- $100 experience credit
While I expected to find significant overlap in the properties offered by The Hotel Collection and the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, I found none. A comparison of the two programs reveals that each has its strengths and weaknesses.
But, in general, properties tend to be more expensive than The Hotel Collection properties. And the benefits you'll get on FHR stays, including complimentary breakfast, early check-in and guaranteed late checkout, are superior. Thus, the real benefit of The Hotel Collection appears to be access to extra perks at high-end (rather than ultra-high-end) hotels.
How to best use The Hotel Collection
Food, beverage and other services at hotels can be costly. So, most travelers won't have trouble using the $100 credit. But, the real sweet spot of this program is for business travelers whose company already reimburses their room and meals. After all, these hotel guests can put the $100 credit toward drinks, pay-per-view movies and spa services that would not be allowed by most company expense policies.
The benefits of the — such as early check-in, late checkout and complimentary breakfast — are geared toward leisure travelers who can afford expensive properties. And booking through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program can be particularly useful when you don't have elite status with a particular brand.
Amex offers both programs to Platinum and Centurion cardholders, which indicates that The Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels & Resorts programs each offer distinct benefits. In short, The Hotel Collection is a valuable perk of the Amex Gold and Business Gold Card -- not just a watered-down version of FHR.
Additional reporting by Chris Dong and Katie Genter.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.