No card is better for getting into airport lounges than the Platinum Card from American Express – especially the outstanding Amex Centurion Lounges. Flash your card and your boarding pass, and you can walk in with two guests for free.
But that’s taking a significant blow. Come February 2023, cardholders will no longer get two free guests. American Express confirmed the brewing change to Thrifty Traveler on Thursday, after making some quiet changes to the Centurion Lounge terms and conditions that were first noticed by Doctor of Credit.
Starting in early 2023, guests will cost $50 apiece – unless you spend a whopping $75,000 a year on your card, in which case you’d earn free guesting privileges back. Fortunately, authorized users can continue to use their own 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 statement.
Fortunately, similar changes won’t be made to the other lounges you can get into with your Platinum Card including Priority Pass, Escape Lounges, Plaza Premium, and others.
“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 although it’s a long ways off, it’s still a major blow for Amex Platinum cardholders who currently pay $550 a year for the card.
Getting two free guests into Centurion Lounges has been a core part of the card for years, and part of what makes it the best travel card for lounge access. It’s especially painful for families who travel with children, as this change would make it exorbitantly expensive to get them in.
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 in the lounge at all.
After shutting down its lounges early in the pandemic, Amex has spent the last year doubling down on Centurion Lounges. All but one of its U.S. lounges has reopened along with two brand new spaces in Denver (DEN) and New York City (JFK). Meanwhile, they’ve pretty much perfected the balance between enhancing safety and cleanliness without detracting from what sets Centurion Lounges apart from the rest.
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. So is it really coming to this? Unless if you spend $75,000 a year on your Platinum Card, you’ll have to pay $50 for each and every guest to get in?
Fortunately, adding an authorized user to your Platinum Card is an elegant workaround to this supposed 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!
This brewing change comes amid swirling rumors around the Platinum Card, including that American Express is considering raising the annual fee again or even introducing another, higher-tier travel card.
It may mean Centurion Lounges are less crowded as travel resumes, but let’s not spin this one: This stings.
Paying $50 per guest is a painful downgrade for the Platinum Card – and at $550 per year, any downgrade stinks. Fortunately, this change won’t take effect until February 2023. That means you’ve got almost two years left of free guest access.