How to upgrade your travel experience with luxury hotel collections
Free room upgrades and meals and hotel credits can be available by booking stays through these collections using your rewards credit cards
Making complex credit topics simple
If you enjoy having all the comforts of home when traveling, luxury hotels may be your first choice for accommodations. Luxury and boutique properties can offer a broader range of amenities than standard hotels.
While you could get access to similar benefits by gaining elite status with your travel credit card, that’s not always easily done.
Luxury hotel and resort collections associated with rewards or travel credit cards from networks and issuers including American Express, Chase and Visa offer a path to luxury travel benefits with no elite status required – and a selection of boutique hotels that might be harder to find through more traditional hotel loyalty programs.
If your card offers access to one of these hotel luxury collections and you were wondering how they work, what they offer and how they compare versus other booking options, we have you covered.
See related: Avoid these 7 hotel rewards mistakes
Luxury hotel collections: A quick guide
- How luxury and hotel resort collection programs work.
- 4 major luxury hotel programs, at a glance.
- Alternative options for booking luxury hotel collection stays.
- Upgrades, hotel credits feature heavily in luxury collection benefits.
- Luxury hotel collections versus hotel loyalty programs.
- Comparing rates for luxury and hotel collection stays.
- Weigh luxury collection rates against booking direct.
How luxury and hotel resort collection programs work
The luxury hotel and resort collection you can take advantage of depends largely on your choice of rewards card. You will usually need to have an eligible card to book a hotel through a luxury collection.
This is how you can book a hotel stay through your luxury hotel collection of choice:
- Visit the program's website.
- Search hotel options by destination or hotel name, number of guests and dates as you would at any other booking site.
- Once you've found a hotel option you like, complete your booking, which varies by program.
- For the Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, enter the first five digits of your card to confirm eligibility.
- For both American Express programs, log into your American Express account.
- For the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection, log into your account or create one if you haven't yet – only Visa Signature cardholders are eligible.
Here’s how benefits and eligible cards compare for four top luxury hotel and resort programs:
4 major luxury hotel programs, at a glance
|Program name||Program details||Eligible credit cards|
|Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection||Enjoy Chase cardmember benefits at 900+ luxury hotels, resorts, lodges and spas.
Daily breakfast for two included.
Complimentary room upgrades at select properties.
Early check-in and late checkout at select properties.
Unique property amenities, such as spa credit.
|United MileagePlus Club
United MileagePlus Explorer
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Other travel cards issued by Chase may be eligible for the program. To find out, when making a reservation on the program's website, enter the six first digits of your card upon request. Alternatively, check your card’s guide to benefits.
|American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts||
Enjoy benefits with an average total value of $550 at 1,000+ properties.
|The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
American Express Centurion Card
|The Hotel Collection from American Express||Enjoy benefits at more than 400 luxury hotels and resorts.
$75 hotel credit for eligible spa, dining and resort activities for up to three rooms per booking.
Complimentary room upgrades, if available.
Use Pay with Points on prepaid bookings.
American Express® Gold Card
|Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection||Enjoy Visa Signature hotel benefits at 900+ properties.
Automatic room upgrades, if available.
Complimentary breakfast for two.
VIP guest status.
$25 food and beverage credit per room, per stay.
|Any Visa Signature card, including:
Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card
Visa Infinite cards including U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Card
Check your card for the Visa Signature or Visa Infinite logos to determine if it's eligible.
Alternative options for booking luxury hotel collection stays
There’s a potential work-around for accessing luxury hotel and resort collections if you don’t have an eligible card.
“You don’t have to have the credit card to book a [Visa] Signature Collection hotel if you book through a travel agent associated with the Signature Travel Network,” says Meredith Donaldson, founder and luxury travel advisor at World Citizen Travel.
You can also enjoy some of the same benefits of the Fine Hotels and Resorts Collection by booking through an affiliated travel agent, says Vicky Garcia, chief operating officer and co-owner of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. That includes room upgrades and flexible check-in and checkout times.
See related: Hotel stays: When to pay cash, when to redeem points
Upgrades, hotel credits feature heavily in luxury collection benefits
Benefits-wise, the programs are similar apart from The Hotel Collection. That program is a bit more scaled down, compared to the others.
- The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts Program covers slightly more hotels and resorts, although there is overlap with certain properties in the program. Fine Hotels & Resorts also offers guaranteed late checkout, a perk you don’t get with the other three.
- The Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection is more generous when it comes to hotel and resort credit. Depending on where you book, you may be eligible for a $125 spa credit or a $200 credit toward food, compared to the standard $25 food and beverage credit offered by the Visa Signature luxury program.
- Hotel and resort credits range from $75 to $100 for The Hotel Collection and the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program respectively. The Hotel Collection has a caveat, however. The credit – and the program’s other benefits – are only available when you book at least two consecutive nights at an eligible property.
Luxury hotel collections versus hotel loyalty programs
- Hotel loyalty programs allow you to earn rewards when you book hotel stays and enjoy benefits such as complimentary breakfast and/or dinner and third or fourth nights free.
- You won’t necessarily earn any extra loyalty program rewards just by booking through a luxury hotel collection – even if the hotel where you’ll stay is part of a hotel loyalty program – but you can enjoy a broader selection of properties.
“Hotel loyalty programs limit their benefits to hotels and resorts that are part of that brand’s portfolio, whereas the Fine Hotels and Resort Program offers competitive rates and valuable amenities at over 1,000 hand-selected properties worldwide that can include various brands and boutique hotels,” says Garcia.
The Fine Hotels & Resorts Program allows members to combine benefits with hotel loyalty programs, such as Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards, giving you even more flexibility for booking stays while also earning rewards.
“This means you get superior value,” says Garcia.
It’s also possible to stack rewards through the Chase Luxury Hotels & Resorts Collection when you book with an eligible Chase card and you’re a member of a luxury property’s loyalty program.
- For example, say you book a room at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
- You earn 3 points per dollar on your stay with your card. As a World of Hyatt member, you earn another 5 points per dollar, putting you that much closer to a free night – which, in the case of Hyatt, starts at 5,000 points.
Comparing rates for luxury and hotel collection stays
An important question to ask with luxury collections is how affordable they are and how much value you’re getting when you book.
- With the Hotel Collection, for example, most rooms start at $150 night. To put that in perspective, the average room rate in some of the country's largest cities ranges from $190 per night in Miami to $267 per night in Boston, according to the 2017 Hotels.com Hotel Price Index.
- A quick search of the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection found nightly rates starting at $169 for the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, the same rate listed on Hotels.com. The Aria website lists rooms starting at $168.94 per night, a negligible difference.
“The price tags are not usually at a premium, which is quite the deal and can save you so much money,” says Donaldson.
To put the cost of luxury hotel stays in perspective when comparing rates, add up the value of any freebies you’re getting, such as complimentary meals.
In Hawaii, consider that the average daily rate for the breakfast buffet at a luxury hotel can be a minimum $50 per person, says Donaldson. “If you’ve booked a Signature hotel where breakfast is complimentary, that’s a $400 savings for a couple staying four nights.”
Luxury hotel programs can also offer incentives or deals that may not be available when booking directly.
Recent deals on offer through the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection have included a third night free at The Plaza in New York, 50 percent off at Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen, and a $125 dining credit at Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
See related: How to find hotel deals on hotel booking sites
Weigh luxury collection rates against booking direct
Luxury hotel collection rates may not always align with what a hotel advertises and it’s important to look at both rates before making a decision.
“Rate-wise, it’s always better to book hotels directly,” says Matea Sragalj, sales and events specialist at Hotel Meyrick in Galway, Ireland.
Sragalj says booking directly with a resort that lacks a loyalty program could yield other perks, such as free nights for a minimum stay. “Always check the individual property’s website for special offers that are only available by booking directly,” she says.
You may also want to check third-party sites for luxury hotel rates, but go carefully if you’re aiming to earn elite status in your hotel’s loyalty program.
“Generally speaking, when you book through a third-party site you won’t earn credit toward elite status,” says Sragalj.
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