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Guest access to the Amex Cutting Centurion Lounge

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Airport lounge congestion has become an increasingly important problem in recent years. In April 2021, Amex announced that it would be making major changes to access policies for its popular Centurion lounges. Now that it’s 2023, I wanted to recap all the details on this, as we’re only a few weeks away from this new policy taking effect.

Amex Platinum Centurion Lounge Guest Changes

Effective February 1, 2023, major changes are being made to access to the Amex Centurion Lounge, which will particularly affect those who have The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (review). Specifically, many cardholders will no longer be able to bring two guests to lounges for free, which is the current policy:

  • Primary Cardholders and Authorized Users on the Amex Platinum will continue to receive lounge access
  • Those who own the Amex Platinum will be charged a $50 fee for each guest they bring into Centurion Lounges; a reduced fee of USD 30 will apply for guests under 18, although infants under two years of age can still be brought at no additional charge
  • Amex Platinum cardholders who spend at least $75,000 per calendar year on the card will continue to receive complimentary lounge access for two.
  • The Centurion Lounge guest policy will remain unchanged for those who have the Centurion cardas well as those with the Corporate Platinum Card (which is different from the Corporate Platinum Card)
  • There are no changes to the guest policy for the Amex Platinum Card with regard to partner salonsincluding Priority Pass Membership, Escape Lounges etc.

Here’s how American Express described the change to its Centurion Lounge access policy in a statement:

“The Centurion Lounge is one of the most popular benefits of the Platinum Card. We want to make sure that we continue to support our cardholders when they travel by providing them with a comfortable space to recharge and relax, which is why we are making some changes to our Centurion Lounge guest access policy.

Amex Platinum Centurion Lounge Hospitality Policy Changes

Is this change in Amex policy good or bad news?

At first glance, this change in Amex Centurion Lounge hospitality policies looks like a devaluation, as a perk is being objectively removed here. Centurion lounges are undoubtedly more impressive than most US airline lounges in terms of food, drink and other amenities.

However, a major drawback of Centurion lounges has been how crowded they were always, given their popularity. While the network of lounges is constantly expanding and the individual lounges are also often expanded, it seems that the lounges are no less busy.

We’ve seen Amex try to add new restrictions in the past that would reduce clutter, but nothing has made a material difference. Unlike the other solutions we’ve seen, I think this change should significantly thin out the crowds in these rooms.

Chances are, if you take guests to Centurion Lounges frequently, you won’t be happy with this policy change. In the meantime, if you often walk into Centurion Lounges alone and find them too crowded, you might find this a positive development.

For example, Miami is my home airport, but I always skip the Centurion Lounge and just go to the American Admirals Club – while the former is significantly better, the latter is significantly quieter, and that’s what matters most to me.

Centurion lounges are excellent, but also tend to get crowded

The Best Amex Platinum Strategy Going Forward

If you’re thinking “oh no, I usually travel with a few other people”, keep in mind that add additional users on the personal version the Amex Platinum is a very good deal (unfortunately on the professional version it’s not as good of a value).

You can add up to three additional cardholders for a total of $175 (Rates and Fees), which costs less than $60 per cardholder. These additional cardholders enjoy many benefits, including access to the Centurion Lounge. It’s a pretty affordable way to deal with this change, assuming you enjoy access to the Centurion Lounge and still travel with the same people.

There’s quite an opportunity cost to spending $75,000 a year on the Amex Platinum, unless you’re spending a lot on airfare (a category in which the card is worth 5x points). There is a lot of better cards for everyday spending.

Adding additional cardholders on the Amex Platinum can be a great deal

Will Centurion Lounges have significantly fewer children?

I must say that I feel a little bad for the parents here:

  • You can only add people aged 13 or over as additional cardholders on Amex cards
  • In other words, if you have a child 12 or younger, your only options for giving them access to the Centurion Lounge are to spend $75,000 a year on the Amex Platinum or spend $30 per visit for them.

That definitely sounds drastic, and I’ve seen a lot of parents cancel their Amex Platinum cards. Then again, maybe having fewer kids in these lounges is the goal, in order to refocus these lounges more around road warriors.

This will likely result in a significant reduction in the number of children in Centurion Lounges

How do you see your Amex Platinum spending?

As mentioned above, you’ll need to spend $75,000 per calendar year on the Amex Platinum card if you want to be able to continue bringing guests into Centurion Lounges. With these new restrictions taking effect in a few weeks, where can you see your current spending on the map?

Simply log in to your Amex account and navigate to the Amex Platinum card profile. Once there, click on the “Benefits” tab.

Amex Platinum Card Benefits Tab

Once there, you should see an expense tracker that will show your eligible expenses on the card. I guess most people know if they’ve spent more or less than $75,000 on the card in a year, but if you’re close, it might come in handy.

Amex Platinum Card Expense Tracker

net profit

Effective February 1, 2023, Amex Platinum holders will no longer be permitted to bring guests into Amex Centurion Lounges. The exception is for those who spend at least $75,000 per year on the card.

This is an interesting change, and your opinion on it will probably vary depending on whether you usually take guests to these rooms or not, and also whether you have children.

What do you think of these changes to Amex Centurion Lounge access?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned. These include: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates and Fees).

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