FHR free night - when credited?

Old Nov 20, 15, 11:55 am
  #1  
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FHR free night - when credited?

Last night I booked three nights at a FHR hotel which advertised "third night free" (also reflected on my confirmation). This morning, I got a charge on my card for the full price of three nights plus whatever taxes and fees (I haven't seen an itemized account, but the charge I got was about 15% more than the base room rate times three). Do I have to wait until the stay (three months from now) to get credited back the difference of paying two nights vs. three?

It seems kind of crazy for them to make me loan them well over $1000 for the next three months. Is this how it normally works? I don't recall running into this with FHR before, but I may not have had any stays including a free night...
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Old Nov 20, 15, 12:07 pm
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The charge could just be a temporary credit card hold/authorization for the full amount of the stay plus taxes. It may disappear after a little while, although the specific hotel/AMEX would know for sure. I have never had to prepay for a stay when booking via FHR.

Also, for me, past FHR free nights are simply not charged to your credit card upon checkout. The folio just shows 2 nights of room charges instead of 3 if you have 3rd night free. There are cases when the hotel misses the 3rd/4th night free promo, so definitely check before leaving the hotel.
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Old Nov 20, 15, 12:11 pm
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I've often needed to pay a deposit for a FHR stay, but paying the full amount 3 months in advance seems to be too much. I have an upcoming Four Seasons Orlando stay of 3 nights, and they took 2 nights deposit at booking!

I would call Amex Travel and find out what happened here. All FHR bookings are cancellable until close to arrival - I think Fairmont is the worst deal at 14 days out, most are only 1 or 2 nights before - so you can get a full refund that way if Amex Travel can't otherwise help you out.
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Old Nov 20, 15, 3:16 pm
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I called, talked to someone, and then sat on hold for literally 30 minutes while they supposedly investigated, until they hung up on me... I guess I'll try again tomorrow.
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Old Nov 25, 15, 1:47 pm
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Ok, I called again. Both the FHR rep and the hotel reservation person confirmed that this is correct. This hotel charges the entire stay immediately, regardless of how far out it is, and regardless of how long the stay is. They said that their contract with Amex is that the third-night-free is credited back at checkout. Meaning I have to pay for it now and wait two months to get refunded.

Not the end of the world, but annoying, and not clearly disclosed when I booked...
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Old Nov 25, 15, 2:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Cardboard55 View Post
Ok, I called again. Both the FHR rep and the hotel reservation person confirmed that this is correct. This hotel charges the entire stay immediately, regardless of how far out it is, and regardless of how long the stay is. They said that their contract with Amex is that the third-night-free is credited back at checkout. Meaning I have to pay for it now and wait two months to get refunded.

Not the end of the world, but annoying, and not clearly disclosed when I booked...
What hotel is this? The terms seem excessive.

However IME AmEx FHR phone agents are frequently confused about the Xth night free promos and cannot tell you exactly whether the rate already reflects the stay X pay for X - ! averaged over the X night stay or not. I would call back and keep calling until you get a written confirmation that clearly reflects the correct terms of your reservation.
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Old Nov 25, 15, 4:28 pm
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The written terms of the reservation clearly do say that the 3rd night will be credited on the statement at checkout, and that the total shown on the reservation does not reflect the credit. What it does NOT say is that the hotel charges the whole thing up front. Both the Amex rep and the reservations person were confident that this is the hotel's policy, and the hotel employee seemed pretty familiar with the program, so I doubt she was mistaken. The hotel is Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, CA.
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Old Nov 25, 15, 4:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Cardboard55 View Post
The written terms of the reservation clearly do say that the 3rd night will be credited on the statement at checkout, and that the total shown on the reservation does not reflect the credit. What it does NOT say is that the hotel charges the whole thing up front. Both the Amex rep and the reservations person were confident that this is the hotel's policy, and the hotel employee seemed pretty familiar with the program, so I doubt she was mistaken. The hotel is Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, CA.
That's a nice place to stay. Be sure to book a table for dinner.
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Old Nov 25, 15, 6:13 pm
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As far as I can tell, Amex never indicates how much they take at time of booking during the booking process! The cancellation policy is listed out - in this case, it's 100% if cancelled within 14 days of booking.

On closer inspection it looks like the Cancellation Policy amount is the amount they take immediately. For 100% forfeit, this is what they take. For a 1 night forfeit, that's the upfront charge. It sucks that they don't make this clear!

I do love the Auberge du Soleil - but it is very pricey!
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Old Nov 26, 15, 1:07 pm
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some top properties are completely nonrefundable, or only refundable if they resell

most hotels/reservations have no/minimal up front, so thats why 'credit at checkout'

can always talk to (management at) property rather than amex PTS/CTS
also, US PTS/CTS allows travel agents to make FHR reservations for clients
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