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Amex Centurion Lounge Guest Policy: Major Changes

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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.

Entrance to the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas McCarran Airport (LAS).

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?

American Express Centurion Lounge DFW
American Express Centurion Lounge DFW

The Negatives

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.)

My daughter loving the American Express Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas.
My daughter loving the kids/family room at American Express Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas.

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.

Bad Marketing

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.

February 2023

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.

Final Approach

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.

What

 

(H/T Bill via OMAAT.)

 

 

 

 

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses 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.

7 Comments

  1. Yeah, this is way too far. At least give a fixed number of guest passes for the year. And since you have to be what 15 years old or abouts to be an authorized user, parents can’t add their kids.

  2. 1. I bet the 2023 date was used to allow AmEx time to gauge how customers react.
    2. I bet a decent chunk of people cancel, and the card falls out of favor.
    3. We know why AmEx did this, but AmEx coulda/shoulda tried other ideas before considering such an extreme choice.

    I think AmEx could have;
    – Put further time restrictions in place (no access to lounge until 75 minutes before flight)
    – Put in a voucher system for guests

    Ultimately, this will make the lounges much much less busy. If you felt the experience was a big underwhelming or chaotic prior to this change; this change will do a lot to change that.

    I think AmEx is “smart”, in that they know what customer they want – truly affluent people. Truly affluent people will not complain about a $59/pp cost, or spending requirement. Everyone excluded after 2023 will be, IMO, more or less the customer that AmEx does not want.

    I happen to think that enough people will cancel the card, that the drop in revenue will cause more pain than the benefit that their solution offers. To try and incentivize people, I am sure AmEx will run promos like spend $15,000 in 3 months, and get 2 guest passes to the lounge. Once again – promotions for affluent people.

  3. Stacy Jordan Reply

    I’m glad it doesn’t happen now as myself and one of my others sisters have Platinum AMEX. We’re using the max guest to bring the other two sisters into the AMEX SFO lounge with us for our June trip. When I’m in LAS, I do bring my travel buddy into the lounge (pre covid) to feel a little special. I wonder if Priority Pass will drop the extra guest as well. Some lounges I use the PP benefit especially when it’s not a Delta one.

  4. How about 1 guest pass for every 2k (or some amount) you put on the card? Win/win?

  5. HuntingtonGuy Reply

    Bait and switch? Some of us, after annual fees on a Amex Plat, Business Plat, Delta Reserve and a few other cards are into the several thousands of dollars just in AF’s. Cards have value and benefits beyond the perks attached to spending but they seem to be evaporating…slowly, but surely.
    Last year (a dud because of Covid) I requested fee waivers and was refused (paltry amount of miles offered instead). So while the cost of membership climbs, the rewards of that same membership decline? It may be time to thin the CC pack.

  6. For those of us who usually only get close to an Amex lounge twice a year. This is not great news!

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