Confirmed: American Express Cutting Platinum Card Guest Access To Centurion Lounges From February 1, 2023

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Big changes are coming to the American Express Platinum Card as they have now officially changed the access conditions for the Centurion lounges which kick in from February 1, 2023 cutting free guests entirely from the benefits.

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 I wrote two days ago American Express in the U.S. has modified the Platinum Card to make it more of a lifestyle product and raised the annual fee to US$695.

As a follow up policy Amex now apparently tries to conquer another issue: Overcrowding!

According to the Terms & Conditions of the Centurion Lounge network there are new rules that kick in two years from now on February 1, 2023.

Platinum and Business Platinum Card Members

U.S. Basic Platinum Card Members and Additional Platinum Card Members on the account and U.S. Basic Business Platinum Card Members and Additional Platinum Card Members on the account may bring up to two (2) guests per visit into locations of The Centurion Lounge in the U.S., at Hong Kong International Airport and at London Heathrow Airport for no per-visit guest fee (“Complimentary Guest Access”) through January 31, 2023. Effective February 1, 2023, Platinum Card Members, Business Platinum Card Members and Additional Platinum Card Members on the account will be charged a $50 fee for each guest (or $30 for children aged 2 through 17, with proof of age). 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. Guest access policies may vary internationally by location and are subject to change.

Beginning February 1, 2023, eligibility for Complimentary Guest Access will be processed within a week of the Platinum Account’s meeting the purchase requirement in most cases, but may take up to 12 weeks to become effective. Complimentary Guest Access status will be reflected in the Benefits tab of your online account and in the American Express App. Once effective, Complimentary Guest Access will be available for the remainder of the calendar year in which it became effective, the following calendar year, and until January 31 of the next calendar year (for example, if Complimentary Guest Access becomes effective on May 1, 2023, it will remain effective through January 31, 2025). Eligible purchases made by any Additional Card Members on the Platinum Account will contribute to the purchase requirement. Eligible purchases to meet the purchase requirement are for goods and services minus returns and other credits. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, cash advances, purchases of travelers checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, purchases of gift cards, person-to-person payments, or other cash equivalents. If a Basic Platinum Card Member upgrades or downgrades from a different American Express Card, eligible purchases made on that Card Account will count toward the new Platinum Account’s Complimentary Guest Access purchase requirement.

Platinum Card Members have unlimited complimentary access to all locations of The Centurion Lounge. Gold Card and Green Card Additional Cards on your Platinum account are not eligible for complimentary access. All access to The Centurion Lounge is subject to space availability. …

For families with children this will become a hardship. Amex Platinum members that don’t meet the $75,000 spend threshold will be able to take their children up to 17years old into the lounge – BUT this will result in a charge of $30 per child, rather than $50 per adult.

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 $30 per child that doesn’t consume anything of value, at least nothing near the value of 30 bucks. 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.

Conclusion

American Express has kicked off a massive overhaul of both the lounge system, the Platinum card service portfolio and of course the fee as well. I still wonder about why they publish the changes to the lounge access system now when is still a bit less than 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. But I guess once it’s out there then they don’t have to open these can of worms again at a later date.

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.

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