Does This Big AMEX Centurion Lounge Policy Change Affect You?

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I told you about the changes coming to the AMEX Platinum cards, including an increased $550 annual fee with the personal version (See Rates & Fees).  And now, another big benefit change is coming on March 30, 2017.

Via View From the Wing, AMEX will be restricting AMEX Platinum cardholders to 2 complimentary guests per visit, and eliminating free admission of immediate family.

Folks who travel with their kids will likely NOT be happy with this change!  But if you usually travel solo, you might welcome the policy.

Does This Big AMEX Centurion Lounge Policy Change Affect You
If You’re Traveling With More Than 2 Guests (Including Immediate Family Members), You’ll Soon Have to Pay Admission for Your Additional Companions

I’ll tell you about this upcoming change!

AMEX Tightening Centurion Lounge Guest Policy

Link:   AMEX Centurion Lounge

Link:   The Platinum Card® from American Express

Link:   The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

Link:   The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Good news to one can be devastating news to another.  And that’s the situation with the new AMEX Centurion lounge policy, which takes effect at the end of the month!

Currently, folks with the personal, small business, or Mercedez-Benz version of the AMEX Platinum card can bring either 2 guests OR immediate family into AMEX Centurion Lounges for free.

But on March 30, 2017, AMEX will lose the immediate family allowance, and restrict the number of complimentary guests to 2 (whether they’re family or not).

And you’ll pay $50 per guest for your 3rd guest (even if they’re an infant) and beyond.

Why the Change?

If you’ve been in an AMEX Centurion Lounge, you know how crowded it can be!  That’s because most folks consider AMEX Centurion Lounges to be THE best lounges in the US.

They have open-air kitchens with chefs preparing proper hot meals for guests.  Plus showers, conference spaces, and premium bars with mixologists.

The Centurion Lounge I visited in San Francisco even had an automated wine-tasting wall!  So it’s no wonder these lounges are filled with visitors.  But most would agree the lounges would be a more pleasant experience if it were less crowded!
Does This Big AMEX Centurion Lounge Policy Change Affect You
Not Many Available Seats in the San Francisco Centurion Lounge

AMEX says they’re making the change to keep guest access policies consistent between Centurion and Priority Pass Lounges.  Last week, AMEX announced that effective March 30, 2017, Platinum cardholders would be allowed 2 free guests at Priority Pass lounges.  Previously, you’d have to pay $27 per guest.

Is This the Right Move for AMEX?

The AMEX Centurion Lounges have definitely lost some appeal, because they always seem to be overflowing with guests.  But I do NOT like that they’ve eliminated the immediate family allowance.

That’s because the folks who are going to be affected by this rule (families with kids) are some of the travelers that need the lounge the most.  Many Centurion Lounges even have a family room with toys and activities for the little ones!

For example, Million Mile Secrets team member Jasmin usually travels with her 3 kids.  She can currently pop into a lounge for a quick rest and a hot meal.  But now she’ll have to pay $50 for her 3rd child to enter.

Does This Big AMEX Centurion Lounge Policy Change Affect You
Folks Who Travel With Their Kids Won’t Be Happy With the AMEX Policy

It’s not worth it to her, because her youngest kids don’t eat all that much (maybe a bag of chips and a drink).  So paying $50 isn’t logical.  Especially if she’s weighing the value of her AMEX Platinum benefits against the increased $550 annual fee!

Instead, AMEX could consider limiting the number of times each cardholder can bring guests or family into the lounge (once per month?).  Or restricting the total number of guest visits in a year.  That way folks will be pickier with their guests, and really make them count.

Another option might be limiting guest access to folks traveling on the same itinerary or reservation.

Alternatives If You Have a Large Family

If you frequently travel with your family, and use Centurion Lounges often, it could make sense to add an authorized user to your AMEX Platinum account.  You can add up to 3 authorized users for a $175 annual fee, and they’ll get their own access to Centurion Lounges (with 2 free guests) and Priority Pass Select membership.

Or consider cards like the Citi Prestige or Chase Sapphire Reserve, which come with Priority Pass Select membership.  With the Citi Prestige, you can bring your immediate family or 2 guests for free.  And with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, there’s no limit to the number of companions you can bring (at the discretion of the lounge).

Bottom Line

Beginning March 30, 2017, AMEX Platinum cardholders will be limited to 2 guests per visit to AMEX Centurion Lounges.  This includes immediate family, who currently can enter for free with the primary cardholder.

Additional guests (after 2) will have to pay $50 per visit – even children!  While I understand the effort to reduce crowding in the lounge, folks who frequently travel with their families will NOT be pleased with this change.

If y’all have better ideas to keep AMEX Centurion Lounges less crowded, I’d love to hear them!  What do you think AMEX should do?  Did they make the right move?

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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