Amex Centurion Lounges Will Start Charging for Guests (But Less for Kids...)

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Amex Centurion Lounges Will Start Charging for Guests (But Less for Kids…)

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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 that change months ago as it was working on the recently unveiled overhaul of the Platinum Card. It caused an uproar that Platinum cardholders will soon have to pay $50 apiece – especially for a card that now clocks in with a $695 annual fee.

But as Amex finally confirmed the details of the new Platinum Card this week, they softened the blow for parents – a bit. While most guests will still cost $50, minors accompanying a cardholder will cost just $30. While still a far cry from the free guest policy Amex Platinum cardholders enjoy today, that's an improvement.

On the bright side, you've still got a year and a half to get two guests (of any age) into Centurion Lounges for free. And 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 previous statement explaining the change.
centurion lounge guest access

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 get two free guests – even as those lounges get a rebrand and 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 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 – and will soon pay $695.

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. 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 has spent the last year doubling down on Centurion Lounges. All of its U.S. lounges have reopened along with two brand new spaces in Denver (DEN) and New York City (JFK), while others will see drastic improvements in the coming years. Meanwhile, they've pretty much perfected the balance between enhancing safety and cleanliness without detracting from what sets Centurion Lounges apart from the rest.

Read more: Amex Doubled Down on Centurion Lounges During COVID-19, What's Next?

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.
centurion lounge guess access

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? Or $30 for a child?

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.


Bottom Line

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 $695 per year, any additionally 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.

And now, children will cost a bit less.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

8 Responses

  • This would be a huge blow to my family with 2 children under 13, and an automatic cancel. It’s a shame too, as we enjoy the Escape Lounge at MSP.

    • So far, there has been no suggestion that the guest rules would change for the Escape Lounge and other lounges like Priority Pass. Just Centurion Lounges.

      • so many lounges to track. can you provide links to Escape and Priority lounges? and the others that i dont even know the names of? As a person who doesnt travel the same routes repeatedly, it is a lot of trouble to find lounges; i may not bother. Lounge access was my main reason to get the card and now this! Thx for the scoop.

    • Good news on this, BB: Amex has told us that it is not changing the guest access policies for Escape Lounges or any other lounges in Amex’s network – just Centurion Lounges.

  • Currently, any active or possibly retired military, have no annual fee. You might want to check that out. I wonder if that will stick around?

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