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As I wrote about a couple weeks ago, American Express has added Priority Pass Select as a Platinum cardholder benefit (Registration link – enrollment required). So what does this mean? Cardholders can access Priority Pass select lounges for free and pay $27 per guest. This benefit also applies to additional cardholders, which is an amazing value when you think about it- for $450+$175 for additional for 3 extra card members- 4 people can have Delta, US Airways, American and Priority Pass access every year. Thats not even taking into account the numerous other benefits like free Global Entry, $200 a year in rebates and free Starwood Gold status. Click here for the full list of lounges, but note that after Sept 30, Continental/United lounge access will not be a benefit of Priority Pass Select.
Update: Beginning March 22, 2014, American Express Card Members will no longer have access to American Airlines Admiral Club and US Airways Club airport lounges through Airport Club Access / Airport Lounge Program. This means that Card Members will no longer be able to gain complimentary access to the American Airlines airport lounges (known as Admirals Club lounges) or the US Airways Club airport lounges as a benefit of their Platinum Card Membership. Cardmembers will continue to receive access to participating Delta Sky Club lounges, Priority Pass Select (enrollment is required), and Airspace lounges in JFK, CLE and BWI airports.
Overall, this is a great enhancement because this benefit is in addition to the current Platinum Lounge Access program which includes Delta, American, US Airways and Continental/United until September 30, 2011. I think this is a very generous benefit, because it costs $399 to buy Priority Pass Prestige, which gives similar access, though with a little more flexibility with guests and it will continue to have Continental/United after September 30. The Amex Platinum and Priority Pass Select lounge access programs complement each other nicely because Priority Pass’ main gaps (Delta and American) are filled by the Amex Platinum lounge benefits. The big hole will be United lounges, but you can use your $200 yearly fee rebate Platinum benefit on United/Continental and use that towards paying for a Red Carpet Club or President’s Club membership.
If you currently pay $400+ for lounge access on just American, Delta or US Airways, you may want to consider just getting an Amex Platinum card so you have a much wider network of lounges to choose from. The annual fee is $450, but in addition to lounge access, you also get:
– 25,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up through this link if you are first time Amex Platinum card holder. If you have another Amex card, you need to log out of your Amex account/clear cookies and apply for the Platinum card as a new application (otherwise you will get an error saying the offer is no longer available). As long as you use a new browser or clear cookies, the application page will load. (Disclosure: I get a commission on applications, but this is the best offer out there for the card and I can vouch it’s still active). Those 50,000 Amex points can be transferred to a number of airlines like Delta (at a 50% bonus until May 30, 2011), Continental (Until Sept 30, 2011), British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Airtran, Frontier, JetBlue, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Hawaiian, Singapore, El Al and ANA.
– No foreign transaction fees (savings of up to 3% of total spend when you travel abroad vs. cards that have these fees)
– $200 in fee rebates on an airline of your choice. You automatically get a rebate for all luggage, lounge membership, on-board food and beverage and other fees coded by the airline. Some people have even gotten award fees and change fees rebated, but technically this benefit isn’t for airfare or ticketing fees.
– 25% redemption bonus when redeeming points for “Anytime” airfare. Instead of 1 point = 1 cent, Amex Platinum members get 1.25 cents. So a flight that costs $250, which would normally cost 25,000 points, only costs Platinum members 20,000 points. You earn miles and elite miles on these types of tickets, so sometimes these redemptions make the most sense when award availibility isn’t there and you don’t want to shell out cash for a flight.
– Complimentary Starwood Gold status. 50% bonus on points, late checkout, room upgrades and overall better customer service.
– 4 hour grace period on Hertz rentals. A 28 hour rental costs the same as a 24 hour- a nice benefit.
– Fine Hotels and Resorts program membership. When you book hotels with your Amex Platinum you get extra benefits, like free meals, upgrades and resort credit.
– And a bunch of other smaller benefits, like targeted promotions and year-end gifts.
Overall, its a solid card made for frequent travelers, but note that it is a charge card, so you have to pay the balance off each month, or else you get hit with some high charges and fees that will probably negate the value of any benefits you receive. As I recommend with all credit cards- only apply if you think it makes sense for you.