One of the most exciting benefits of the American Express Platinum Card® is Centurion Lounge access. These lounges can provide a respite from the chaos of airports. A buffet of food curated by local chefs may be a far stronger motivation to get to the airport early than the Transportation Security Administration’s recommendations. The open bar may be enough to delay your flight, as can one less drink you would otherwise pay for.
But for better or worse, the Centurion Lounge perk is changing significantly next year. Currently, Centurion Lounges are available at no additional charge to Platinum Card members and up to two guests. But on February 1, 2023, that changed, threatening to take a large chunk out of the value of the Platinum Card® from American Express’ annual fee, $695. conditions apply.
Complimentary Centurion Lounge guest policy will expire in early 2023
Centurion Lounge in Europe at London Heathrow Airport. (photo courtesy of American Express)
Starting February 1, 2023, the ability to bring up to two guests at no additional cost ends for most cardholders. Unless you otherwise spend $75,000 or more each calendar year on your card, you’ll need to pay $50 to bring an adult guest ($30 for children ages 2 to 17) into the Centurion Lounge. conditions apply.
In some ways, the change to the Centurion Lounge guest policy is good news for travelers who are frustrated with lounges crowded enough to require a queue. But for cardholders who regularly use the lounge with up to two friends, this is a major drawback.
For some, American Express’s $695 annual fee would make it harder to justify the Platinum Card®, especially if you had a lounge in your home airport. Lounge addicts who don’t usually travel alone are left with a conundrum: should you leave the lounge, make your travel companion an authorized user or have your travel companion apply for your card should? conditions apply.
The answer depends on your personal spending habits. Below you’ll find two calculators to help you handle changes to the Centurion Lounge Guest Pass policy based on your spending:
Is the American Express Platinum Card® worth the annual fee for one (or both) of you?
One Platinum Card® from American Express per person: Annual fee of $695. conditions apply.
Many perks emphasize luxury, such as a $200 hotel credit on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection, a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit, a $300 statement credit toward SoulCycle at-home bikes, and a $300 Equinox credit per calendar year. . Enrollment is required. conditions apply.
Other perks have a potentially wider reach, such as Walmart+ credit, $20 monthly digital entertainment credit, and cell phone protection, but they only provide value if you actually use them. If you already have an Amazon Prime account, you may not get much access to Walmart+, and the digital entertainment credit only covers a handful of services, including Disney+ and Hulu. This does not include your Netflix subscription. conditions apply.
It is unlikely that anyone will use every single advantage. Even if you did, the value varies on how often you exercise them. Someone who visits the Centurion Lounge twice a year—but uses the showers, eats a full meal and enjoys a few complimentary cocktails—can fetch a higher value than someone who does before their flight. Enters twice a month to grab bananas.
With that in mind, use our calculator to figure out the value you get from the Platinum Card® with the American Express Card:
Is the $175 annual fee to add an authorized user worth it?
Now that you have a better understanding of the value you can get from American Express’s Platinum Card®, it’s time to consider whether your lounge friend would be better off as an authorized user or should they go alone and apply for their card.
That $175 lets you add three additional cards (then $175 for each additional authorized user). If you take the full benefit and add three people, this comes out to $58 per authorized user per year.
Catch? Authorized users get some of the above benefits, but not all. You won’t get two sets of Uber credits, nor will you get two sets of Saks credits. conditions apply.
But authorized users of American Express’ The Platinum Card® get a healthy share of benefits, including:
Ability to earn points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through the Amx Travel Portal.
Either a $100 statement credit every four years for Global Entry or an $85 credit every four and a half years for TSA PreCheck.
Up to $300 in a calendar year as an Equinox statement credit. Enrollment is required.
$300 SoulCycle at-home bike credit, on 15 bike purchases annually (up to $4,500 per person, per year assuming you actually bought 15 bikes).
conditions apply. Enrollment is required.
Equinox and SpiritCycle: If you want to get an Equinox subscription, just becoming an authorized user can pay for itself. If for some reason you need 30 SoulCycle bikes, you’re practically making money, assuming you can’t find some sort of wholesale discount anywhere else. conditions apply.
Global Entry and PreCheck: If you don’t want an Equinox membership or SoulCycle bikes, another way to add authorized users is through TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credits. However, there are many other ways to get complimentary TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, so that benefit is controversial. conditions apply.
The Live Action Cooking Station at the Centurion Lounge at Denver International Airport. (photo courtesy of American Express)
Lounge access: If you only care about lounge access, then break down the cost per visit when you add authorized users:
Let’s say you value a lounge visit of $30, which is roughly the price of a typical airport meal, otherwise you may end up paying it. To break out the authorized user cost ($175/30=5.83) your guests would have to visit about six times a year – either the same person six times, all three authorized users twice, or some combination.
Use this calculator to help you understand whether it’s appropriate to add an authorized user based on their use of all authorized user benefits (and their assessment of lounge access):
Are two separate cards worth a combined $1,390 in fees?
The Game Room at the Centurion Lounge at Denver International Airport. (photo courtesy of American Express)
So you calculated the value that your card offers to you personally. You calculated the value that your travel BFF(s) might get from becoming an authorized user. But there is a third option, and that is each of you has your own cards.
Let your potential authorized user(s) go through those initial calculations – take the first quiz in this guide for yourself – to understand the value they’ll get from holding your card.
Two Platinum Cards® per family from American Express: Two annual fees of $695 (or $1,390 combined).
Paying the $175 authorized user fee may seem like the logical solution, as it’s much easier than paying an additional $695 on top of your $695. But if you can max out the card, it might actually be worth paying the two annual fee. Having your own card offers far more benefits than just being an authorized user.
A note on adding authorized users
Adding authorized users to your credit card is not a decision that should be taken lightly. When you add an authorized user, you give that person permission to make purchases on the account. However ultimately, you are financially responsible for the charges to the Authorized Users.
If you don’t pay their fee, you are likely to incur a late fee, and that missed payment could be reported to the credit bureaus, which can have a negative impact on your credit score.
You should only add authorized users to your account whom you know and trust.
Since you can add up to three authorized users to American Express’s Platinum Card® for the same cost, it may be tempting to add your jet-setting neighbor, or your younger brother who goes to college in the same city. Centurion Lounge.
The potential reward of being Neighbor or Sibling of the Year for pairing them with lounge access may not be worth the potential damage to your relationship — and your credit score.
Should You Add Authorized Users to Get Centurion Lounge Access?
If you’re the kind of person who sees Centurion Lounge access not just for you – but for a traveling friend or two – as a top benefit on the Platinum Card® from American Express, you have the option of creating a new AmEx Centurion Lounge guest policy once The difficult decision is to hit with one’s feet.
While the benefits for authorized users aren’t as plentiful as for primary cardholders, adding authorized users isn’t a bad idea, especially if you can fill all three slots. If you can add three authorized users to your account, each cardholder will only need to receive $58 in value to make it worth it. If you commit to just one authorized user, they’ll need to get over $175 in value.
For some, having two cards may be inappropriate. Especially if you live under the same roof, having two sets of digital entertainment credits or a Walmart+ subscription may seem redundant (in which case the authorized user route makes more sense).
But if you can use a good chunk of each profit (say you want both clear, or you take multiple Uber rides per month and can use two sets of monthly credits) that’s $ in combined annual fees. Paying 1,390 may not be a bad idea.
To view Platinum Card® rates and fees from American Express, visit this page.
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