Big changes are coming to the American Express Platinum Card as the company has quietly changed the access conditions for the Centurion lounges which kick in from February 1, 2023.
Under the new rules Amex Platinum card holders will be charged a $50 fee for each lounge guest, children would no longer be permitted free of charge but those who charge a minimum of $75k/per year to the card will retain lounge access privileges for two guests.
American Express has heavily expanded their lounge portfolio in the last two years which included expansion of existing space and the opening of new lounges, mostly throughout the U.S..
As a follow up policy Amex apparently tries to conquer another issue: Overcrowding!
The information has since been removed from the website after causing a firestorm, it’s unclear what the intention was to publish this two years prior to changes coming going into effect!?
These limitations will not affect Centurion card holders and those who charge in excess os $75k per calendar year to their personal or business Platinum card. Also this only affects members of the U.S. based Platinum cards, for now I assume nothing will change for international cardholders.
Authorized users will still receive their usual lounge access for the AU itself. You can add up to three AU’s to the Platinum account for a flat fee of $175/year. It doesn’t make any difference if you add one or three AU’s the cost is the same, something I wish Amex would change and follow the example of the Chase Sapphire Reserve that charges per AU. The minimum age for an Authorized User is 13 years so it won’t be possible to add young children to get them their own lounge access.
I try to see this in a multidimensional, non emotional way so here are some of the things that came to my mind when I read this:
- Amex has issues with overcrowding at their Centurion Lounge locations, to combat this is overdue;
- Some people have taken advantage of the lenient guest access policies to the detriment of single travelers who often didn’t find space or couldn’t even get into the lounge;
- Amex has already stopped admitting guests upon arrival of their flight and only allows entry three hours prior to the flight (except at transit points), both policies are being strictly enforced.
- Cutting the guests from two + kids to zero is harsh. Amex is really pushing for the cardholder to issue and pay for AU’s
- It’s simply not feasible that someone randomly issues AU’s for people simply for the purpose of traveling together 2-3 times a year. Especially when it’s not a relationship that usually includes shared accounts. Getting an AU also has credit reporting consequences regarding new/existing accounts.
- Highly unlikely a family suddenly starts paying $50 per child that doesn’t consume anything of value, at least nothing near the value of $50. It’s hard to justify that value even for an adult, I personally value a lounge visit $15-20.
I’m not making this an issue of “do children belong into lounges or not” because I’m generally a money talks kinda person, as long as the behavior is suitable I don’t see a reason for age restrictions. Most issues I had so far at Centurion lounges were with adults spreading their stuff out over multiple seats and using freehand speaker function on their phone.
The $75,000 spend requirement will make these changes irrelevant for many, especially Business Card holders. Quite a few people put a lot of spend on their personal Platinum as well irrespective of the fact that the card has a horrible ratio for points earning on anything other than airline tickets. I could think of a dozen cards where it makes more sense to spend with rather than the Platinum.
This comes on the heels of another rumor that Amex is planning a substantial fee hike for the Platinum this year. The current fee of $550 it’s rumored to go up to anything between $695-$795 beginning the summer of this year for new applications and early 2022 for existing cardholders.
So far nothing has been confirmed from Amex as far as the fee structure is concerned. Right now with $550 the U.S. Platinum is one of the cheapest in the world especially with all the credits involved and new ones are to be expected if the price goes up.
American Express appears to target a massive overhaul of both the lounge system, the Platinum card service portfolio and of course the fee as well. I still wonder about this leak of proposed changes to the lounge access system which according to the dates provided is still two years out. The earliest it would make sense to publish it is like < 12 months prior so people know what they’re paying for.
The Amex Platinum is a card that is mainly targeted for travelers given the Centurion Lounge network and travel insurance benefits and travel centered credit system behind the card. It’s important to constantly evaluate if a card is still suitable for the current situation. There is a vast market of premium card especially in the U.S. and sometimes other cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve are more universal than Amex Platinum.