Should You Use the Amex Platinum or Co-Branded Hotel Credit Cards for Hotel Bookings?

There’s a misconception going around that the Amex Platinum card earns 5x on ALL hotel stays. To clarify, the Amex Platinum only earns 5x points when you book hotel nights through amextravel.com or the Fine Hotels and Resorts Collection (FHR).

If you’re someone who uses the FHR benefit, then you’ll also receive a $100 credit towards spa services or dining, depending on the property. Hotel rates in the FHR collection usually start at $250+.

Amex recently made enhancements to the FHR program so that the nights will qualify for elite credit and benefits.

When you use the Amex Platinum for direct hotel bookings, you’ll only earn 1x points.

Which Credit Card Should You Use for Hotel Bookings/Stays?

Amex Platinum (Direct Booking)

The Amex Platinum card earns 1x on direct hotel bookings. The hotel will honor your status, and you will also earn elite points for the stay.

Depending on the status you have and the property, the benefits of status can include late check-out, complimentary breakfast, wifi, and executive lounge access.

Amex Platinum (via AmexTravel.com)

Earn 5x points on hotel stays booked through amextravel.com. Since you’re booking through an online travel agent, the hotel is not obligated to honor your status.

The hotel doesn’t need to honor your status since you didn’t book directly, but some check-in reps will add it if you ask.

For FHR, the hotel will honor your status and give you elite points.

Co-Branded Hotel Credit Card

Depending on the co-branded hotel credit card you have, the spending multipliers on purchases from the respective hotel group can range from 4-14x points.

The hotel will also honor your status, and you earn elite points for your stay.

The only downside is that most of the co-branded hotel cards that offer a free anniversary night or worthwhile status have an annual fee. Crunch the numbers to see if you can get positive expected value from the card.

Hotels.com

For people who don’t care about hotel status or prefer to stay at boutique hotels, hotels.com is a good option.

When you book hotel stays through Hotels.com, you receive one free night (worth the average of 10 nights) after 10 nights.

You can typically buy Hotels.com gift cards at drugstores or gas stations to get a better discount. Time the gift card purchase with a Chase Freedom or Discover It 5% rotating category.

Another option is the Capital One Venture card that earns 10x points on hotels.com purchases (through Jan 2020).

See if the Capital One Venture is worth it for you using this calculator.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card



Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. 

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