Amex is Cutting Complimentary Centurion Lounge Access for Guests — But Don’t Panic Yet
Back when I was considering and comparing the American Express Platinum card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, one of the perks that put the former over the top for me was access to Amex’s own Centurion Lounges. While the similar benefits of being able to enjoy Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta was another reason why I opted for the Platinum, the downside there was that Delta still charged for guests whereas Centrurions allowed cardmembers to bring up to two guests for free. However, that policy is now set to change.
After a seemingly accidental update to their terms was spotted by bloggers, American Express has now confirmed to The Points Guy that Centurion lounges will discontinue that complimentary admission of guests. Instead, Platinum cardholders will need to pay $50 per guest per entry. Luckily, though, this change won’t take effect until February 1st, 2023. Also, once the policy is installed, Platinum cardholders can unlock the guest access perk by spending $75,000 or more in purchases during a calendar year (sidenote: LOL).
The move to eliminate free guests from Centurion lounges speaks to ongoing complaints from cardmembers that the locations are frequently overcrowded, leading to long wait or turned away customers. In fact, the lounges have already made changes aimed at curbing capacity issues, such as no longer allowing arriving passengers to enter and limiting departing passengers. Meanwhile, Amex continues to build new lounges in additional airports and is currently expanding some of its existing locations.
While it’s obviously disappointing that Amex is taking away this great benefit and charging such a high price per guest, at least they’re giving a long heads-up about the shift. This advanced notice also gives cardholders the chance to consider adding an authorized user to their card if they want to continue bringing travel companions into the lounges. If you weren’t aware, Platinum cardholders can currently add up to three authorized users for an annual fee of $175 (this means you pay the full $175 per year whether you add one person or three people). Authorized users won’t receive such perks as the Uber credits, Saks credits, etc., but they will enjoy the same lounge access perks as primary cardholders along with complimentary hotel status and more. Furthermore, Amex’s new terms do state that additional cardholders will be exempt from the incoming $50 per-visit fee.
On the other hand, a lot can still change before 2023 rolls around. In fact, this news has only intensified rumors that American Express is looking to hike up the Platinum card’s annual fee and/or introduce a new card level between Platinum and its exclusively illusive Centurion card (AKA “the black card”). To be clear, nothing concrete or official on these fronts has been announced… but I’ll admit I am a tad bit worried about what could be coming down the pike.
Setting aside those larger fears, I’m not too concerned about this change at Centurion lounges. No one likes paying for something that used to be free but, as someone who has already added authorized users to my card, it honestly doesn’t impact me too much — except to say that the lounges will hopefully be more accessible in the future. That said, we’ll have to wait and see what other plans Amex has in store for its premium products and whether or not the Platinum card remains worth it for people like me.