The Centurion® Lounge by American Express offers some of the best airport lounge experiences available. With prime airport locations in select cities, these lounges are a huge benefit for holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, providing free access to top-notch lounges across the country.
The complimentary fresh food by award-winning chefs, premium bar service, shower suites, and a place to relax away from the hustle and bustle make these lounges the preferred location for many frequent travelers.
American Express recently announced some significant changes coming to their personal and business Platinum® cards that will go into effect on March 30. The guest policy for the Centurion Lounge will also see a change on that date.
In the past, the policy has been that cardholders can bring 2 guests and immediate family members into Centurion Lounges with them. The new upcoming policy will be 2 guests or immediate family members; additional guests can buy a day pass for $50.
This change is meant to be implemented throughout the new Global Lounge Collection (excluding Delta Sky Club), which has over 1,200 lounges worldwide that will soon allow only 2 guests free access to their lounges.
We noticed this change when American Express first announced changes to its Platinum® cards, which included allowing cardmembers to bring 2 complimentary guests into Priority Pass lounges.
For some, like solo business travelers, this could be seen as a benefit. One of the main complaints American Express receives about access to these lounges is that they are overcrowded, and limiting access could potentially lessen the crowds.
For others, like traveling families, this could be a huge problem since the access that was fully extended to immediate family members will now be significantly reduced. A family of 4 traveling with 1 cardholder will soon have to pay an extra $50 just to ensure the family can stay together in one of the Centurion Lounges.
There is an alternative for families to gain more access to these lounges: the main cardholder could add another family member as an authorized user for up to 3 cards, each with a $175 annual fee.
Authorized users have the same benefits as the original cardholder, and this sometimes comes with an additional bonus. This would mean a family of 4 with both parents having a Platinum® card (one main cardholder and the other an authorized user) would be allowed to take their 2 children plus 2 of their friends.
While this might not seem ideal, it ultimately depends on whether cardholders will want to buy an additional day pass for their family at least 4 times a year. If so, then adding a family member as an authorized user would be more beneficial.
Families of 4 or more can request additional authorized user cards for a $175 annual fee per card (up to 3 cards). This will allow an additional 2 guests per card and save $50 per guest for each day pass when the family travels together.
Either way, families who took advantage of this elite travel perk and frequented Centurion Lounges on a regular basis will be hit by these upcoming changes.
In addition to the upcoming increase in the annual fee from $450 to $550 on The Platinum Card® from American Express, this new guest policy is giving families something to think about when choosing their premium travel rewards card.
However, The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN will not be increasing its annual fee, which could help offset the cost of adding an authorized user if needed.
It’s strange that American Express is attempting to reduce its crowds at their Centurion Lounges by changing one word in the guest policy that seems to target only families, especially since each lounge location specifically offers a family room.
It appears that American Express is trying to solve the problem of overcrowding at their premium Centurion Lounges across the country. In doing so, however, they are taking a risk by changing their policy and reducing the guest access of immediate family members, which could disappoint some of their customers.
Since these benefits target frequent travelers looking for exclusive perks on a regular basis, even offering a limited number of guest passes per year may not be very appealing to cardmembers.
Perhaps reducing access to just 1 guest plus all immediate family members would have done the trick. But that may have disappointed business travelers who regularly bring more than 1 of their favorite business partners into these premium lounges.
Maybe American Express is trying to see what works to reduce the overcrowding at the Centurion Lounge. It’s possible that this change won’t be well received, which would mean we could see another change from American Express regarding this exact policy sometime in the future.
All we know right now is that competition is heating up in the premium travel rewards card market, and The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the longest standing premium cards out there. We know they will do their best to adjust to the current needs of their main customer base.