When we talk about American Express, we’re usually focused on brilliant ways you can transfer Membership Rewards points to airlines so you can use miles to book an award ticket somewhere wonderful.
However, for more dates than not, you may not be able to find award space when you want to travel and you probably still want to travel. It happens, every day. That’s where Amex’s suite of Platinum cardmember benefits really kicks in: notably, the International Airline Program (IAP) and the Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) programs. They can be worth more than their weight in gold, or more accurately, platinum,
For travelers who aren’t loyal to one chain, or can be tempted by a great hotel at a better price, Fine Hotels And Resorts allows you to enjoy perks similar to hotel elite status at countless luxury properties, just by booking via Amex Travel. Not only does it offer luxury perks, it offers free night offers as well.
The key to unlocking both of these perks is having the US version of either The Platinum Card From American Express (Learn More) or The Business Platinum From American Express (Learn More). Of course, the Centurion Card also comes with these perks, but only a very select few have it. UK cardholders also have access to FHR, which is great.
Without further introduction, let’s take a look at how you can leverage both the International Airline Program and Fine Hotels And Resorts for an amazing luxury getaway.
Book Biz And First Class With International Airline Program
Until just recently, to take advantage of Amex’s International Airline Program discounts, you had to call Amex and ask a phone agent to check flight prices. Now, this can all be done online which makes it both easy and quick to use – and you won’t have to pay a $39 phone booking fee.
With the IAP, you can get discounts on premium cabin tickets and this includes premium economy. According to American Express, the average savings per class of service are as follows:
- First: $600
- Business: $300
- Premium Economy: $150
As you can see in the example above, Amex Travel clearly indicates when you’re receiving the IAP discount. A quick double-check on Google Flights and we confirmed that the listed price for these flights is, in fact, $3,450. So, the Amex IAP price of $3,144 is a savings of $306 per ticket.
If for some reason you’re booking a ton of tickets, keep in mind that you’re limited to booking 8 tickets. Somehow, I don’t think this will be a huge issue for too many people. For families that can field a baseball team themselves, at least you can get discounts for 8 people!
Don’t Forget The 35% Pay With Points Rebate
Regardless of whether you have the Amex Platinum (Learn More) or Business Platinum (Learn More), you’ll earn 5X when you book these tickets just as you would normally. The Business Platinum does have one advantage, however, and that’s these bookings are eligible for the 35% rebate when you Pay With Points.
In our example, you’d get a rebate of 109,961 Membership Rewards points which means your total out of pocket would only be 204,382 points for a round-trip Qsuites booking to Thailand. It’s not quite as good as booking an award ticket, but it’s not bad when you consider the miles you can earn on the ticket. For frequent British Airways and American Airlines flyers, you could also make some serious progress toward elite status.
It’s not just Qatar Airways, though. The IAP has partnered with 25 airlines that can help you reach just about anywhere in the world. Here’s a complete list of the eligible partners.
|International Airline Program Partners|
|Air France||Japan Airlines|
|Air New Zealand||KLM|
|British Airways||Qatar Airways|
|Brussels Airlines||Singapore Airlines|
|Cathay Pacific||South African Airways|
Luxury Hotel Stays Plus Perks With Fine Hotels & Resorts
The Fine Hotels & Resorts program has partnered with over 1,000 luxury properties across the world. Why book through Fine Hotels & Resorts, though? Well, check out these perks:
- Daily breakfast for 2 people
- Unique property amenity (spa credit, food and beverage credit, etc)
- Room upgrades upon arrival (if available)
- Noon check-in (if available)
- 4pm check-out (guaranteed)
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Basically, you’re going to feel like you have elite status with any FHR hotel property and we can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy a little luxury relaxation. It certainly doesn’t hurt that you’ll earn 5X Membership Rewards points with the Amex Platinum or Business Platinum if you pay upfront.
One of our favorite parts about FHR is that it runs promotions that include 3rd or 4th night free. If you’re booking a luxury hotel, you might as well get the most bang for your buck! If getting treated like a top tier elite wasn’t enough, a free night tacked onto your stay should sweeten the deal.
Alternatively, you could book a one-night stay to take advantage of the unique property amenity which could be dinner for two at one the hotel restaurant. This could be quite the treat if the hotel you book as a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Putting It All Together
What does this look like in practice? Well, let’s take a look at an example of how you could pair the International Airline Program discount with a luxurious stay courtesy of Fine Hotels & Resorts.
You could book a business class ticket on Delta from New York (JFK) to Dublin (DUB) with a connection Boston (BOS) for $2,005 in August 2019. By going through Amex Travel, you could save $142 and get the cost down to $1,863.
If you have the Business Platinum, you could pay with points, receive a rebate 35% on the 186,293 points and your total points cost would be 121,090 Membership Rewards points. That means you’d save over 65,000 points!
During your week in Ireland, you could enjoy 3 nights at The K Club in County Kildare. Thanks to a 3rd-night free promotion from Fine Hotels & Resorts, you can get your average nightly rate down from $347 to $231 per night.
Throw in a $100 food and beverage credit, the usual free breakfast for two and a possible upgrade and you really have something special in the works. It just might be the perfect retreat after a few days exploring Dublin.
If you booked this trip for two people, that brings you to a cost of about $2,210 per person plus your cost for a stay in Dublin — maybe you’ll use points or find another FHR option. If you have the Business Platinum and pay for your flights with points, you’re looking at 242,180 points plus $693 all in and you’d each earn some miles on the flights.
When you start to see how the puzzle pieces can fit together, booking travel becomes less of a hassle and a little bit more fun. One of the best parts about pairing the International Airline Program and Fine Hotels & Resorts to book a trip is that it can work for so many people.
Whether you have a ton of Membership Rewards points or you’re just looking for a solid cash fare deal and a great hotel stay, you can pair these perks and travel in style.