The Aspiring Gentleman needs a credit card that not only pays the bills, but can also provide benefits that work with his lifestyle. My card of choice is the American Express Platinum card that has an annual cost of $450 in the USA, and is similarly priced in other countries.
The initial price seems a little high, and if you don’t use any of the provided benefits, then the annual fee is wasted. The benefits I find the most useful include the $200 annual Airline Credit, Priority Pass membership for access to many airport lounges and the American Express Centurion Lounge access. If you travel more than a few times a year, these benefits alone make the fee worthwhile.
My favorite benefit is Fine Hotels and Resorts as it allows me to stay in luxury hotels worldwide (like The Shangri-La at The Shard above), whilst providing me benefits that usually go to top-tier members of those hotel’s loyalty programs. In addition, many of these hotels also provide free nights for stays that are at least 3 or 4 nights long, providing big savings to those who can use them.
The base benefits with Fine Hotels and Resorts include:
- Free breakfast for up to 2 people
- A credit that’s worth US $100 during your stay
- 4pm guaranteed checkout
- Early checkin if possible
- An upgrade to to a better room if available at checkin
The most valuable benefit with Fine Hotels and Resorts is the possibility of a free night on stays that are 3 or 4 nights. Many hotels that participate have these free night offers at various times throughout the year, and, depending on the room you book, can save you quite a lot of money on your stay.
As an example, if a hotel would charge you $500 per night for a room, and they have a 3rd night free available, then the hotel would take off the third night cost of $500 (plus most taxes and fees) at checkout. This is in addition to the free breakfast and, if they have it available, an upgrade to a better room.
With the $100 credit and a free breakfast for 2, you can also get great deals for single night stays. For example, I read this article about the Five Most Luxurious Bars in London, and 3 of them are in hotels that are part of Fine Hotels and Resorts. I just looked up a night at The Berkeley, and that costs about 300 Pounds. There’s an 85 pound credit available for Food and Beverage, and breakfast looks to cost 29 pounds per person. With these credits, I can stay the night for 157 pounds, have a few free cocktails at one of the most luxurious bars in London, and stay in a nicer room than I’m paying for.
There are Fine Hotels and Resorts in Las Vegas where your cost for a single night stay can be less than zero – before you hit the tables, of course.
The only hard part of finding these luxury hotels and their free night offers is that the American Express website for Fine Hotels and Resorts isn’t very good. Once you know the hotel you want, it’s easy enough to find, but the search function is the only way to find hotels, and it often doesn’t work very well even for that. Outside the USA, members have to call American Express Travel to book these stays.
I run a website – https://www.fhrnews.com – that has a browsable directory of all of the available hotels in the Fine Hotels and Resorts program, and a useful search function. In addition, I send out a newsletter twice a week that tells you about all the new offers that come available for all the Fine Hotels and Resorts in a specific area. I send this out every Monday and Thursday, with other relevant news about the Fine Hotels and Resorts in that region. You may find offers at your favorite hotels, or notice that a great offer has come available in an area you might want to visit, but didn’t know there was even a Fine Hotel and Resorts property there! The FHRNews site also has a better hotel search facility, so it’s much easier to find hotels in the areas you want to visit.
If you have an American Express Platinum card, the Fine Hotels and Resorts program is the easiest way to recoup the $450 cost of the annual membership fee, whilst staying in some of the nicest hotels in the world. With this program, and the other great benefits that Platinum card members receive, the Aspiring Gentleman can travel well without breaking the bank.