Amex (Sadly) Just Closed a Major Loophole with the Platinum Card
Over the past few years, you wouldn’t have to look far to find anecdotes regarding overcrowding at airport lounges. While these spots are meant to be exclusive getaways for frequent fliers or other fancy people, the availability of premium credit cards that offer lounge access as a perk have seemingly led travelers to sometimes find long lines at certain lounge locations. In response, airlines and card issuers alike have taken steps to curb access.
For example, American Express removed complimentary guest access to its Centurion Lounges for Platinum Cardmembers who don’t spend at least $75,000 per year on their card, while Delta also recently adjusted its SkyClub access policies. Yet, there was one big and relatively affordable loophole open to those who wanted to provide their familiar with lounge access — at least until yesterday.
This week, American Express made a major update to the Platinum Card that specifically impacts authorized users. For as long as I’ve been a cardmember, you could add up to three authorized users to the card for a fee of $175 per year. To be clear, whether you added one user or three, it was a flat $175 annual fee (plus an additional $175 per year for any additional AUs over three). While these authorized user accounts wouldn’t include many of the credits that the main Platinum account would get, the AU Platinum would entitle them to status perks, you guessed it, airline lounge access. In other words, it was pretty darn easy to add up to three people for less than $200 and grant them the same lounge access as you, the primary cardholder, had — with no need to spend $75,000 on the card per year.
Well, that has now changed. Amex has ditched this “first three” structure and replaced it with a fee of $195 per card. So, while I previously paid $175 per year for my three AUs, I’ll now be looking at a fee of $585 at renewal time. Sidenote: funny enough, this update comes right on the heels of Citi’s American Airlines AAdvantage Executive card actually adopting Amex’s former “three for $175” authorized user structure (that card previously offered free authorized users. Crazy.).
Obviously, as someone who did take advantage of this authorized user policy, this update is bad news. At the same time, however, I have to admit that it makes a lot of sense. In a world where Delta was restricting access for some of its top elite flyers yet still leaving the door open to people like me with a credit card, this authorized user option was just too powerful.
On that note, even with the fee hike, I do still think that it could be worth adding authorized users to your American Express Platinum Card. In our case, we definitely plan on keeping my wife’s authorized user card as I’d rather pay $195 per year than try to spend $75,000 on my card. Meanwhile, although I loved being able to provide two of our friends with Platinum benefits without it costing us anything, I’m betting at least one of them will be willing to pay the $195 fee to retain the card seeing as they’ve now experienced the luxury of lounge life. Hey, turning back from that is hard!
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the other piece of Platinum Card news that happens to impact me directly. As of October 1st, Audible will no longer be eligible for the card’s $20 a month Digital Entertainment Credit. In its place, The Wall Street Journal is now an option (wait, I thought it said “entertainment?”). The silver lining is that this timing basically aligns with when I’m due for a streaming service subscription shake-up, so I suspect I’ll still be able to use this credit to its fullest even with the loss.
Despite this double-dose of down news, I do still think the Amex Platinum is well worth it for us. I’ve done the math plenty of times to discover that the credits alone make it so the lounge access and Membership Rewards points are basically just bonuses for us. So, while that could certainly change in the future, for now, I’m holding the line (and hopefully not holding in line) with my card.