No card is better for getting into airport lounges than The Platinum Card® from American Express – especially for accessing the outstanding Amex Centurion Lounges. Flash your card and your boarding pass, and you can walk in for free. But the ability to bring in guests for free has sadly now ended.
Starting today, February 1, cardholders no longer get two free guests. American Express confirmed that change almost two years ago as it was working on a refresh of the Platinum Card's benefits. Starting now, Platinum cardholders will have to pay $50 apiece for guests accompanying them into the Centurion lounge, but you'll still be able to bring up to two guests with you.
The blow will be softened for parents – a bit. While most guests will still cost $50, minors accompanying a cardholder will cost just $30.
Want to avoid these guest fees? You'll need to spend at least $75,000 each year on your Platinum Card.
Additionally, authorized users can continue to use their own Platinum Card to get in. Invite-only Centurion cardholders will also continue to get free guests.
“We want to make sure we continue to back our Card Members when they travel by delivering a comfortable space for our Card Members to recharge and relax, which is why we are making some changes to our Centurion Lounge guest access policy,” Amex said in a previous statement explaining the change.
Fortunately, similar changes won't be made to the other lounges you can get into with your Platinum Card including Priority Pass, Plaza Premium, and others. Even Escape Lounge visits will continue to get two free guests – even as those lounges underwent a refresh from Amex to become “Centurion Studio” lounges.
“No changes will be made to other lounges in The American Express Global Lounge Collection,” a spokeswoman said.
But the main focus is on Centurion Lounges, which are leagues better than most domestic airport clubs. And it's a major blow to a card that charges an annual fee of $695 each year (see rates & fees).
Getting two free guests into Centurion Lounges has been a core part of the card for years, and part of what makes it one of the best travel cards for lounge access. But the motivation is clear: American Express wants fewer people in these lounges. And so do many travelers.
Why Cut Down on Centurion Lounge Guest Access?
With top-notch food and drinks and chic decor, Amex Centurion Lounges have grown popular to a fault. Pandemic aside, they're regularly overcrowded, making it hard to get a seat or even get into the lounge at all.
After shutting down its lounges early in the pandemic, Amex spent 2021 and 2022 doubling down on Centurion Lounges. All of its U.S. lounges have reopened along with two brand new spaces in Denver (DEN), New York City (JFK), New York LaGuardia (LGA), Newark (EWR), London (LHR), and upcoming lounge announcements in Atlanta (ATL) and Washington D.C. (DCA), while others will see drastic improvements in the coming months and years.
But combatting overcrowding has proven to be a challenge. American Express has tried a handful of things over the years, yet nothing has really moved the needle. Back in 2019, Amex eliminated the ability to get into Centurion Lounges upon arrival – you can only get in before departing the airport or during a layover. Plus, it restricted access to just three hours before departure.
But it was clear that wasn't enough. Unless you spend $75,000 a year on your Platinum Card, you'll have to pay $50 for each and every guest to get in (or $30 for a child).
Fortunately, adding an authorized user to your Platinum Card is an elegant workaround to this change. It costs an additional $175 a year to add up to three authorized users to a card – and that's $175 total, not per person. That works out to less than $60 apiece, and it could easily be worth it. Unfortunately, authorized users must be 13 or older to be added to your account.
Read up on how to add authorized users to your Amex Platinum Card – and why you may want to!
Centurion Lounges could be less crowded starting now, but let's not spin this one: This stings for Platinum cardholders.
Paying $50 per guest is a painful downgrade for the Platinum Card – and at $695 per year, losing any benefits stinks.