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Holding elite hotel status is a surefire way to enhance your hotel stays. Perks like welcome amenities, bonus points, early check-in, late checkout, free breakfast, and complimentary room upgrades improve the hotel experience at no additional cost.
But, if you don’t travel regularly for business or pleasure, it can be hard collecting enough nights within one hotel program to reach elite status, let alone across multiple programs. There is also the issue that chain hotels have a limited footprint, restricting the number of destinations where you can enjoy the benefits of elite status.
One possible solution is using luxury hotel collections offered by American Express, Chase, Visa, and Mastercard. While the perks only apply to paid stays, you can access luxury hotels all over the globe at competitive rates and receive complimentary elite benefits similar to what you’d receive as a mid or top-tier elite member within the hotel’s loyalty program.
To access these benefits, you must hold an eligible credit card within the program, and book your stay through the provider’s travel service, for example, American Express Travel or Chase’s Luxury Hotels & Resorts Collection.
The four programs covered are:
- American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
- Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
- Visa Luxury Hotel Collection
- Mastercard® Luxury Hotel & Resorts Portfolio
All four are worth a look. An important point to keep in mind, if you're deciding to book through one of these programs or direct with a hotel is that it is highly likely that you'll be booked on a points/elite night eligible rate, which means if you're chasing elite status, these nights may count towards your required annual total.
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts are only available to Amex Platinum Charge Card Members and Centurion® Members. Valid cards include (but are not limited to):
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (Terms Apply)
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Terms Apply)
You must book through the Platinum Travel Service, Business Platinum Travel Service, Centurion Travel Service, americanexpress.com/fhr, any American Express Travel offices or the Agency Services Desk for the perks to apply.
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Benefits
Four of the six Amex benefits are guaranteed, including the guaranteed 4 pm check-out which is exclusive to Amex and a highlight of the listed benefits.
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Guaranteed 4 pm late check-out
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Unique property amenities, such as a spa or food and beverage credit valued at a minimum US$100
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Noon check-in, when available
It’s worth noting the free breakfast, and $100 unique property amenity is applied even if the daily hotel rate falls under $100. Not a situation likely to happen often with hotels of this caliber, but a steal if you nail down a cheap overnight stay.
Amex Hotel Selection
Amex lists over 975 hotels in its Fine Hotels & Resorts collection, which you can view as a list categorized by region, bundled together by brand, or as an interactive world map on the dedicated FH&R directory website.
Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
The Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection (LHRC) is available to select Chase cardholders. Although a confirmed benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase doesn’t publish a list of cards that include access to LHRC. Instead, you input the first six digits of your Chase credit card into the popup during the booking process, and it will confirm if your card is eligible.
From reader reports, valid cards include:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
- United MileagePlus® Club Card
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
- Chase Freedom®
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Again, this information is crowdsourced from the AwardWallet community so do your own research to confirm your card is eligible for the perks. You must book through Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection using an eligible Chase card to qualify for the benefits listed below.
Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection Benefits
Unlike the majority of Amex’s perks, the bulk of Chase benefits are left up to the discretion of the participating hotel. You’ll receive daily breakfast for two, and the unique property perk which can include lunch or dinner for two, a spa treatment, golf green fee waivers, welcome gift, or airport transfers, but the early check-in/late check-out and room upgrades are all ‘only if available.’ Listed benefits include:
- Daily breakfast for two
- A special benefit unique to each property
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Room upgrade, if available
- Early check-in, if possible
- Late check-out, if available
Chase doesn’t list participating hotels in a directory, and there is no interactive map allowing you to search by region, you have to search each location manually via the search box on the homepage. Chase advertises over 900 properties participating in the program, and the hotel selection covers every popular destination we entered, although cities in off the beaten path regions such as New Zealand or Morocco offered fairly slim pickings.
Visa Luxury Hotel Collection
The Visa Luxury Hotel Collection offers over 900 properties around the globe, catering to both Visa Signature and Visa Infinite cardholders. The benefits are similar, but in addition to the seven perks listed for Visa Signature cardmembers, those holding Visa Infinite cards receive the eighth benefit at over 200 hotels across the collection. Daily breakfast for two, food and beverage credits and the extra Visa Infinite amenity are the only guaranteed perks, the rest being ‘when available.’ Reservations must be booked either on a Visa Luxury Hotel Collection website or through Visa Concierge for benefits to apply.
The first seven benefits listed below are available to all U.S. issued Visa Signature, Signature Preferred, and Signature Business credit cards, which includes cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. To qualify for the last benefit, you must hold one of four Visa Infinite rewards cards offered by U.S. providers.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card
- Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card
- UBS Visa Infinite credit card
Visa Luxury Hotel Collection Benefits
Benefits differ between Signature and Infinite cards, with the latter receiving an extra benefit worth up to $100 per stay. Perks from Visa include:
- Best available rate guarantee
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, when available
- Complimentary continental breakfast for 2
- $25 food or beverage credit
- VIP Guest status
- 3 PM check-out upon request, when available
The final benefit is only offered to Visa Infinite cardholders at roughly 200 hotels in the Visa Luxury Collection. Some of the benefits offered include:
- An additional $75 Food & Beverage credit, on top of the existing $25 Food & Beverage credit
- $100 spa credit
- $100 golf credit
- $100 room rate credit
Restricting the Visa Infinite benefit to just 25% of the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection puts it at a distinct disadvantage to Chase and Amex’s offerings, which both offer the amenity across all properties.
You can access the property list for Visa’s hotel collection via VisaSignatureHotels.com, and Visa offers the ability to refine your search by region, rating, style, and brand, or you can click on the interactive map at the top of the page for a visual approach. To see the Visa Infinite properties, you need to enter your card details on the Visa Infinite website.
Mastercard® Luxury Hotel & Resorts Portfolio
Mastercard offers up a different program to Amex, Chase, and Visa, with over 2,000 properties in its portfolio plus a concierge-style helpline and best price guarantee. The program covers all World Elite Mastercard® products, an extensive list of cards that includes:
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
- Virgin Atlantic® World Elite MasterCard®
- Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
- Citi Premier℠ Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®
Note that this benefit is not restricted to premium cards, and you can receive these perks holding mid-tier World Elite cards like the Arrival Plus and Citi Premier. To reserve a hotel in the Mastercard Luxury Portfolio, book online via travel.mastercard.com or call 1-855-802-1387.
Mastercard® Luxury Portfolio Benefits
The benefits section is where Mastercard’s offering gets interesting. In addition to complimentary daily breakfast and ‘when available’ check-in, check-out, and room upgrades, you receive one customized benefit. The bonus perk’s range from $25/50/100 (USD) hotel credits to guaranteed late check-out, or even a private wine tasting experience. The listed benefits include:
- Complimentary daily breakfast
- Complimentary room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in
- Early check-in, subject to availability
- Late check-out, subject to availability
- Additional bonus benefit
Mastercard includes two more benefits as standard when you book a hotel in the Luxury Portfolio and pay with a World Elite Mastercard.
- Hotel Stay Guarantee – If your 3-star or higher rated hotel is not working out, a Lifestyle Manager will work to make it right.
- Mastercard Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee – If you find the same exact prepaid hotel stay for less, we will refund the difference.
A common complaint we hear from members attempting to book hotels through these portals is they can find the same room cheaper elsewhere, so the low-price guarantee is a nice touch to ensure you get the best deal.
Mastercard doesn’t supply a directory or list of properties that participate in the Luxury Portfolio, but on the World Elite card benefits page refers to “preferred amenities at more than 2000+ properties around the globe.” The hotel selection at Mastercard offers more variety and more locations than any of its rivals, and the search facility allows you to isolate by region, country, and city making searches a breeze.
Do Prices Differ Between Collections?
Yes, they do. Most of the time you'll see similar pricing between the three collections, but we have seen occasions where the price differs by $100 or more per night for the same room. The only advice we can give is to do your own research for each room, based on the cards you hold as perks and price can vary across programs for the same room. The collections crossover in most cities we visited, so you may qualify with multiple cards if you hold more than one eligible rewards card.
Elite benefits such as complimentary breakfast and late check-out can make a significant difference to the quality of your hotel stay. Getting those perks as a credit card benefit rather than via the required head-on-pillow stays adds another layer of value to cards like the Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum.
As for the best program? Assuming room rates were the similar (any significant difference and it’s a no-brainer to choose the least expensive), we give an edge here to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts for the guaranteed 4 pm late check-out, something none of the other programs offer as standard.
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