Huge changes are coming for the American Express Centurion Lounge guest policy.
Both The Platinum Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card from American Express give primary cardholders and paid additional cardholders complimentary admission to American Express Centurion Lounges. These cardholders may bring up to two guests for free.
And that’s where Amex is dropping the boom.
No More Free Guests to Centurion Lounges
Starting in February 2023, only the primary account member and paid additional cardholders will receive complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges.
Guests will still be allowed — for $50 a pop.
But that charge is waived for cardholders who rack up $75,000 each calendar year on their Platinum cards.
Amex spells it out in their updated Centurion Lounge Terms & Conditions.
A Possible Upside
If you’ve visited Centurion Lounges — especially the Las Vegas and San Francisco locations — there’s a chance you’ve seen major overcrowding.
So this move will, theoretically, help open up space.
Many solo travelers hate when others bring guests into lounges. But that suddenly changes when they have a companion (or two).
Been there, done that. I admit it.
But even after Amex mandated its lounges can be accessed only by departing passengers, a Centurion Lounge agent told me that change was mildly effective.
So now I’m really curious why Amex poured resources into expanding the Las Vegas and San Francisco Centurion Lounges.
I suppose it’s entirely possible that a ton of people jumped on the huge Platinum Card 10X grocery and gas station welcome offer as well the Business Platinum’s big referral promotion. Perhaps it was a smashing success (during a pandemic) and Amex is suddenly afraid everyone will flood their lounges?
I’m the primary account holder on both a Platinum Card from American Express and Business Platinum Card from American Express. My wife is a “free” additional cardholder — she doesn’t get the Marriott and Hilton Gold Status, Global Entry/TSA Pre√ credit, lounge access, etc.
Mrs. Carley is my complimentary Centurion Lounge guest. Well, until the changes take effect in a couple of years.
We’ve brought our daughter into the Las Vegas Centurion Lounge — and she loved it. (I read that Amex has since gotten rid of the family room in the LAS lounge. That stinks.)
So as someone who travels with family, I really don’t like this change.
And, frankly, I’m surprised that Amex isn’t allowing even one guest.
Here’s another thing to consider: people love showing off.
Again — been there, done that. I admit it!
Longtime readers of this blog may remember I worked in Las Vegas several times a year (until COVID). I’d often bring a couple of colleagues into the Vegas Centurion Lounge. It was a great way to relax before the flights home (and upon arrival — before the departing-passengers-only change). And it was a legitimately great use of The Business Platinum Card from American Express: I was entertaining business acquaintances. And you know what some of those business colleagues did?
Got Amex Platinum cards.
Then they told their friends about the great lounges. Those friends then applied for American Express Platinum cards.
But, hey. I’m just a blogger — not a financial expert. Maybe Amex’s math says a few $50 guest charges is more valuable than several years of $550-$595 annual fees.
Word of mouth spreads fast — and I don’t think this change is going to help Amex.
Amex: Give Us a Reason to Spend Money on the Platinum Cards!
I literally laughed out loud when I read:
To receive Complimentary Guest Access at these locations after January 31, 2023, the total eligible purchases on the Platinum Account must equal or exceed $75,000 between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022 and in each calendar year thereafter.
Yeah. I don’t guest 15 people — let alone 1500 — into Centurion Lounges. So that’s not even a consideration for me. I will not be spending $75,000 on anything platinum — credit card or otherwise.
And herein is what confounds me about Amex and their big-ticket premium cards (i.e. The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card from American Express, Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card, and Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card).
Everyday spending bonuses on those cards is terrible.
Sure, The Platinum Card from American Express offers 5X on purchases made directly with airlines. But that’s it. Everything else earns 1X. The Delta Reserve cards offer a whole 3X on Delta purchases. Restaurants? Gas stations? Supermarkets? Just one SkyMile per buck.
And I hate that. I want to use cards.
I’ve long written that the Platinum Cards are heavy on benefits but meh on points earnings. But now they’re hacking away at one of the prime benefits.
Is American Express scared of its Platinum Card and other major premium products being seen “in the wild” at places such as restaurants, drug stores, and grocery stores? (Where, by the way, you’re better off using the lower annual fee American Express Gold Card. Or, perhaps, one of the Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning cards.)
Why even manufacture metal cards if you don’t give people reasons to use them?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives me 3X on all dining and travel purchases — which are worth 4.5 cents each when booking travel through Chase.
It also offers an annual $300 statement credit toward travel spending — which was recently extended to other purchases, too. And the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s Priority Pass Select membership offers credit at select airport restaurants — something Amex premium cards eschewed a few years ago.
Is Amex trying to “thin the herd” — and cater their premium products to people who don’t care about earning and redeeming points?
Honestly, it kind of bums me out for such an iconic brand.
The fact these changes don’t take effect until February 2023 strikes me as interesting. I’m surprised the changes would take effect, say, January 1, 2021.
But February 2023 gives people plenty of time to make up their minds as to whether or not they want to keep their — or apply for — Platinum cards.
That’s some buffer space for backlash — and Amex to revise their decision.
I’m disappointed in the Centurion Lounge guest policy changes. I’d understand if they limited access to the primary cardholder plus one guest. But this “group punishment” — especially after Amex expanded some lounges — is rather odd.
I hope Amex either changes its mind or makes both Platinum cards more valuable.
(H/T Bill via OMAAT.)
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