Advertisement

Understanding Amex Platinum Lounge & Priority Pass Select Benefits

by on August 28, 2013 · 53 comments

in American Express, Club Lounges, Priority Pass

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Business Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

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.

One of the best among the Platinum Card from American Express’s many benefits is the airport lounge access cardholders get. When you have a valid ticket for same-day travel, the Platinum card will also gain you access to Delta, American and US Airways lounges – potentially saving you membership fees of up to around $500 each per year if you were to join each separately – and you can bring two guests or your spouse and any children under 21. US Airways even allows entry if you are flying on a different carrier.  The personal Platinum card, the Business Platinum card and the Mercedes-Benz Platinum card all carry this benefit.

Priority Pass

One of the Platinum card’s valuable benefits is Priority Pass membership.

In addition to the airline-specific lounges, the card also confers Priority Pass Select access to over 600 airport lounges in 100 countries no matter which airline you are flying at the time (guests can also enter for a $27 per person fee).

However, this benefit also ends up being a bit of a sticking point for some cardholders – as one TPG reader emailed me earlier this week, and I experienced last week during my trip to Europe.

In order to attain Priority Pass Select access, you have to call the Platinum card customer service line and actually ask for it, which many cardholders forget about and are in for a rude awakening when they try to access a Priority Pass lounge by just presenting their Platinum card. Instead, you need to have your Priority Pass card with you and be able to present it.

You actually have to call Amex to enroll in Priority Pass.

You actually have to call Amex to enroll in Priority Pass.

While the upside is, it doesn’t matter what airline you’re flying for you to get in, one of the big downsides is that your card only covers you – so if you are traveling with anyone else, they’ll have to pay the $27 fee…or it will be charged to the Platinum card you have linked to your Priority Pass Select membership.

That’s what happened to the reader who wrote to me. He used his Priority Pass card to gain entrance to a lounge in London Heathrow during a layover and he brought a guest with him. While he thought the guest would get in for free, he was mistaken – though it doesn’t sound like the desk agent pointed that out to him at the time – and when he got home, he found a $27 charge on his Amex statement.

His situation is a good reminder that you can’t count on desk agents to be as informative and upfront as possible, so you should always ask if there will be any fees, and then be sure to look your statement over carefully to make sure you have not been incorrectly charged.

Anecdotally, I’ve also heard of Platinum cardholders finding lounge charges on their Amex statements even though they had shown their card at check-in and should have had free access to the lounge. That hasn’t happened to me, but again, read your statement over carefully each month to make sure the charges are correct.

What did happen to me this summer, though, was another interesting pitfall. As you might know, during my last round of applications, I replaced my personal Platinum card with the Mercedes-Benz version (and scored 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points in the bargain).

New Delta SkyDeck.

Your Platinum card gets you access to Delta’s new SkyDeck at JFK.

I still had my Priority Pass Select membership card from my old Platinum card and I simply forgot to get a new one with my new Mercedes-Benz Platinum. Well, I should have, because when I tried using it to enter a Priority Pass lounge in London, the card was denied. Luckily I was with a friend who had his own Platinum card and Priority Pass membership and he guested me in for the $27 fee.

One way to avoid the fee if you travel with a pretty set list of companions like your own family or a group of friends is to make them additional cardholders on your Platinum card account. Amex will charge you $175 to get up to three additional cards, and each of those additional cardholders will get the lounge access benefit in their own right – so you’re potentially quadrupling the value of your lounge benefit by adding another 3 people to your account like I did with my father this past Father’s Day. Each of those cardholders also gets their own Global Entry application fee refund, worth $100 each. The $200 yearly airline reimbursement is shared between all cards on an account, so additional cardholders simply apply towards the $200- they don’t get their own $200 reimbursement unfortunately.

Delta Sky Club bar area.

If you have a long layover, it’s nice to have a place to sit, get a drink and get some work done.

When the lounge access benefit works, it’s definitely a great cardholder asset, but when it doesn’t work, or you find yourself disputing a charge, you can’t help but ask yourself, “is it really worth the $27 to go hang out in a nondescript airport lounge and get free crackers and soda?”

A lot of airports are upgrading their facilities, both here in the US and abroad, with better dining choices, more and more free WiFi, and just nicer places to sit, so paying $27 to get into a lounge where the amenities might not all be up to snuff becomes less of a worthwhile proposition. Personally, I’d rather spend $27 on a decent meal at an airport than to get into most lounges.

That said, if I have a long layover and need a quiet, more private place to work where I’m guaranteed decent WiFi, some snacks and drinks, and maybe even a light meal, having access to an airline lounge is a nice perk.

While airline lounges tend to be pretty standardized across the board, remember that in addition to participating airline lounges like Alaska MVP Boardrooms, many Priority Pass lounges are run by independent companies, so amenities can vary widely, as can floorspace and services. Whereas airline lounge reps can move heaven and earth to help you with your reservations (not that they always do), staffers at non-airline lounges can’t do a thing for you, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Amex

While airline lounge reps can help you with your reservation, those in independent lounges like many Priority Pass ones cannot.

I think the airline lounge access is one of the strong points in the Platinum card’s suite of benefits…when it works. There are member lounges in most major airports around the world, and it’s nice to know you can visit them when you’re traveling. The downside, however, is that sometimes cardholders can still get charged for access by accident, and that any travel companions must pay for their access, both of which must factor into your decision whether or not to visit a Priority Pass lounge on your travels.

It won’t stop me from accessing them as I fly around the world – only I’ll be sure from now on that my membership is up to date so I don’t have any further issues!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Mister tP

    Once again, Air France doesn’t accept Priority Pass to get in their lounges. As for information, at CDG airport, it is only accepted at the Icare Lounge at Terminal 1, provided you fly from this terminal (mainly a Star Alliance Terminal) and at Terminal 2A (AIr Canada lounge). I’ve had so many people trying to get into the lounge when I was at JFK, some were showing their Amex Platinum, uhm no this is only good for shopping Sir…

  • John-Paul

    The agents at Priority Pass lounges will never know whether you’ll be charged for a visit because Priority Pass have different membership levels that include different benefits. For example, I have a Priority Pass membership through my British Amex Platinum card which includes all clubs (including UA) and also includes one guest for each visit. On the other hand, I have a colleague that has the lowest membership tier where he pays for both himself and any guests 100% of the time. It’s incumbent upon every cardholder to know the fees–lounge agents will not help you there, they just swipe (or imprint) the card.

  • Presalesguy

    For all the problems with access levels and fees, sometimes you just stumble over a gem with this program. A few months ago I was stuck in Miami waiting for a delayed USAir flight. Checked the PriorityPass app on my iPhone, and right there in Terminal J is Club America. I go up the stairs, show the electronic version of my card, and I have three quiet hours with wifi, snacks and comfy chairs. Fabulous!

  • Tricia

    We are living in Hong Kong right now and my husband has a Priority Pass card. We have found it rather frustrating also because we have three teens and there are no lounges in Asia that will let us in without charging the kids and I $27 each. So not worth it. When we get stateside it’s better, but the US Air lounge in LA would not let in the kids, just me and hubby, and many close by midnight, or even earlier and we do some crazy hours internationally. Sleeping on the floor in LA was not so great. That place SHUTS DOWN at midnight…the whole airport! Trying to decide if it is worth the fee or not for our family. I was looking forward to this benefit, but so far, it has not been very fruitful for us.

  • KyShark

    You can also enroll in Priority Pass on the Amex Platinum website. I know as I did it last night after selecting my airline for the $200 annual credit.

    After selecting the airline, the screen displayed a card benefits box that linked to a page that included all the extra benefits platinum offers including how to enroll in each. For Priority Pass I simply had to re-enter my AMEX login and choose a security question. They said the PP packet will arrive in 10-14 days.

  • Bob Stein

    I dont think the Priority Pass allows you in the United Lounges either, which sucks

  • John-Paul

    Priority Pass Select, which is the one issued by the USA Amex Platinum card, can no longer be used at United Clubs. All other Priority Pass membership types (including those issued by foreign Amex Platinum cards and purchased Priority Pass memberships) still include access to United Clubs.

  • Rachid

    This past month of May I was in Madrid they didn’t allow me to get in the loung even though I had my platnium card presented to them along with my boarding pass.

  • Little Tea Blog

    So if a friend of mine (not family), has a Platinum card, can I be added as an authorized user on it and pay him the “new card” fee, but get the $100 in global entry back and get all the lounge access? That sounds like a sweet deal!

  • Fat Ted

    I’m less pleased with the wifi at some US Airways lounges recently. To me the combination of the desk, outlet, and wifi is what makes it worthwile, but if the wifi isn’t going to be good enough then I’m not sure the club is worth it.

  • Jim

    I recently used the AMEX platinum card to get into both the Delta lounge in ATL, and the American lounge at Reagan. I especially liked the fact that I could grab a soda and some snacks and chill – And use the nice bathrooms (AA), because I was traveling with my daughter. All the folks were nice, and I just showed them my Platinum card, my ticket, and away I went.

    Funny – before I knew that United dumped the program, I was traveling with my wife and 4 kids – and we attempted to get into the United Club at Newark, and the lady about came over the counter and punched me. It was funny doing that with the kids in tow! That’s only one of the reasons my loyalty has moved from United to others.

  • leothelion

    I love my Priority Pass Select! Cant put a price on a clean bathroom or some peace and quiet!

  • aaron

    are you also able to get into US airways, American, and Delta partner/alliance arline lounges as well?

  • Poley King

    I wonder why Delta participates in the Priority Pass Select and no the regular priority pass?

  • Garrett

    I remember reading somewhere that the $27 fee for additional guest(s) is automatically billed to the Platinum Card associated with the Priority Pass account. I think it was when I was activating that benefit.

  • Ralf

    I came across an Amex Centurion Lounge at Congonhas airport in São Paulo last May. Had no idea what it was, but obviously was Amex. My Biz Platinum card gave me access no problem. Wasn’t aware Centurion was a branded lounge, let alone part of Platinum benefits.

    It looks like there’s only one in the US, at LAS:
    http://thecenturionlounge.com/

    In Santiago there’s a non-airline lounge that South American Amex holders can access but not US. But my Priority Pass Select worked.

  • LJA

    I noticed in the picture above that there is an expiration date on the card – something I never noticed or thought about. I checked my own card and see that it expires in August 2014. Do you know if I have to apply again or will a new card automatically be sent, just like my credit cards?

  • Dave

    points guy. I just hit my 50k sign up bonus yesterday after the $1000 spend. I looked in my account and I had 110,000 points. There was an extra 60,000 point bonus added as well. Obviously I’m not going to complain but have you heard of this happening? or is this just some flukey glitch?

  • Eric1618

    Absolutely. He can add you as an additional card holder, and even set a spending limit on your card (I suggest it be at least $100 to charge your reimbursable Global Entry fee). You can mosey on in to airport lounges and call to be added for Priority Pass Select once you get the card.

  • Tony

    Can you confirm whether you are allowed to enter a lounge in a different terminal from your airline terminal? I read that it has worked for some. In my case flying SW (Term B) and trying to get in US Airways (Term C)?

  • farnorthtrader

    Does anyone know if you can pay to upgrade from the Select Pass to the regular pass? I fly United almost exclusively for domestic. US Airways lounges will help a little, but not much, so I would like to get United lounges included, if it does not cost too much

  • thepointsguy

    Nice.. Not exactly sure what that is- bank error in your favor?

  • Ace

    There is one lounge at Aruba’s Queen Beatrix airport, and it is Priority Pass. My husband & I travel to Aruba 2x per year, but unfortunately every time we attempt to access the lounge it is closed, or if we are able to open the door and walk in they announce that they are closing. Very frustrating.

  • joeypore

    Yeah… too often I find myself looking to see what PP lounges are at a US airport I’m traveling to…and it’s almost always met with just United Lounges…

  • jacisme

    I’m pretty sure you can sign up and get your Priority Pass card mailed to you via americanexpress.com. I never called anyone and I have a Priority Pass card. I think I was on the site and signed up for all of the individual status programs (Hertz, Avis, National, and Priority Pass) all in one internet sitting session. You do have to call a specific number at Amex in order to get the SPG Gold Status, but that was separate.

  • BobChi

    Bob’s right if you are trying to enter based on a Platinum card issued in the U.S. They do recognize some foreign-issued cards. I ran into this at O’Hare when I was flying United. The Chicago United lounges are listed on the Priority Pass website, but if you click through to the lounge details page, or if you simply walk up to the lounge based on the listing, you get the bad news. You can use the Air France lounge at O’Hare with Priority Pass Select if you’re flying internationally (at least it’s listed as such), but if it’s a domestic flight on United, you are entirely out of luck at that airport. An obvious gap in the program.

  • cohenm123

    I thought the $175 additional card fee was an annual fee, not a one-time fee. Is that not the case?

  • Pingback: Applying For The Best Credit Cards – The Top Deals For Your Round Of Applications | The Points Guy

  • Eric1618

    As far as I know, the $175 fee is an additional fee on top of your annual fee for the primary platinum card. It will be charged annually.

  • M. Stuart

    I flew First Class on Delta yesterday from FLL to LGA. I have a Platinum AMEX / DELTA card and I was told I could use the lounge at FLL for a fee of $25.00.

  • metro_struggler

    Go to http://www.americanexpress.com/platinum There’s a handy tab for all benefits you can sign up for.

  • artezd

    It’s not directly related but is lap-child fee reimbursable from $200 incidental airline fee benefit bucket? Thanks

  • Pingback: Amex Changes Mercedes-Benz Platinum Card Bonus Terms – Prior Platinum Cardholders Excluded | The Points Guy

  • Pingback: Lounge Club Adds New Members – More Places To Use Your Chase Ink Lounge Benefit | The Points Guy

  • Pingback: How Many Credit Cards Do You Have Open At Once And How Does That Affect Your Credit? | The Points Guy

  • Pingback: Which American Airlines Executive Platinum Milestone Elite Reward is the Most Valuable? | The Points Guy

  • Bill

    What is the “electronic version” of your card ?

  • Duitch Sloane

    We are absolutely steaming, having applied and gotten Amex Platinum for ourselves and adult daughter, the primary driver being access to USAir lounges even when not flying them. Over the two weeks of researching online, and over the phone with both USAirways, American Airlines, and Amex, we were assured time and time again that this benefit would not change, and we made it abundantly clear that this was our reason for shelling out for the card. Today, I got an email from Executive Travel Check In, with the news that 1. USAir and American will no longer honor either the Platinum Card, or the Priority Pass we also signed up for, after March 2014. We can still get to Delta and others, but only if we are actually flying them. So basically, the perk that made us opt for this, rather than a shared Club membership or an airlines-tied card has disappeared. The article stated that members may be seeing an email offering $ 500. statement credit, good from March 31st- Jan 1 2014, which might cover day passes for some, but not all of our travel (and our daughter’s, who would also not be eligible to use a family Club pass). What has my blood boiling is that clearly, this was planned and known the entire time we were talking to them, but not a word was spoken. We may well switch cards, back to the Amex Gold Rewards, but my husband is rightly loathe to go jumping from card to card as that has a negative effect on our credit rating.

  • thepointsguy

    Actually my understanding is that Amex tried hard to keep them in, but AA/Us decided to withdraw to solidify their relationship w citi. If you cancel you will get a prorated refund of the annual fee- don’t forget to maximize the $200 airline credit now and January 1- that along is like getting $400 back!

  • farsighted

    I love my Priority Pass. Both my husband and I have separate Plat Amex Business cards (we have two businesses). We were sent the cards without asking for them, though you do have to validate them. Call them if you have problems logging in online. Just came back from Europe. Used the passes in Madrid, Tenerife, Dusseldorf and Zurich… The Dusseldorf club (Hugo Junker’s Lounge) was outstanding; had a small dinner there, mini-weinerschnitzel’s, sandwiches, excellent wine etc. Then the lounge in Zurich (OneWorld Lounge) was absolutely the best, had lunch there with cognac, Russian vodka (plus some outstanding other liquors) and unbelievable vegan food… This is a perk you need if you travel in Europe. Amazing. Our US lounges look like rubbish compared to these… (pretzels and carrots… LOL!).

  • farsighted

    you have to use the PriorityPass card to get into the foreign lounges (if you are in the US). Just call and ask them to send you one. It’s a different program then just showing your platinum card. You also have to pay $27 for guests, unless your guest has their own priority club card.

  • disqust101

    Pay up or quit whining.

  • Frante Camar

    Platinum card is getting worst and worst. Not only American Airlines and Usair are out of the program, but also there is no lounge that can be used in Newark airport- the 3 lounges of Priority pass are United and priority pass holders of a card issue by Amex Platinum are not allowed. I think platinum card is turning into a worthless product with a very expensive and un justified fee.

  • Virgil

    I agree 100%. While American Express says access to over 600 clubs, when you arrive and prepare to enter, you are told it your Priority Pass Select membership was purchased thru a financial institution YOU ARE NO ALLOWED TO ENTER. As a traveler, one would think you make it easy for the customer, but rather American Express CHOOSES to make it hard. Had I known I would not be allowed access I would have stayed by the pool at my hotel in Fort Lauderdale rather than going to the airport early to relax.

  • Virgil

    Wait til you are denied entry to an airport lounge on your travel plan.

  • Jason Kay

    Quick FYI about Amex’s version of the Priority Pass. We get the “Select” version, and people are in a rude awakening if they try to use it at the United Club, at least in Denver. I was denied saying they haven’t accepted that version for years. You need the all black version, which Amex does not offer.

  • RandomJerk

    This is true. I am at Denver right now and just got the same story. $50 for a day pass here. AMEX Platinum is getting less and less worthwhile every year!

  • Anand

    Frante Agree with you about Select not being accepted at Neward United Club. However I found a hidden gem – called ‘Art & Lounge’ at Terminal B (international). It was a quiet place and was able to watch soccer peacefully!

  • http://www.coldcallinginsider.com/ Frank R

    I’m canceling my Amex Platinum. Now that I live in Dallas and fly American exclusively, I got the AA Citi Executive card which not only includes lounge access but priority boarding and access to the first-class security line and no fees for checked bags. Plus, I did the math and verified via a few points websites that Amex rewards points are worth 1.2 per $1 spent while AA miles on the Executive card are worth 1.67 per $1 spent.

    It has all the other Amex Platinum perks like car rental insurance, baggage protection, trip cancellation insurance, product protection, automatic extended warranty, etc. Only downside is the annual fee is the same $450 as Amex but it’s a better deal in the end.

    If you don’t fly American, dump Amex for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Those points are worth 2.1 per $1 spent! No lounge access though. Incidentally, it’s Chase who has been stealing the airline partners from Amex.

  • http://www.coldcallinginsider.com/ Frank R

    Get the Citi AA Executive card, I dumped Amex Platinum for that since I fly AA and now so do you via the US Air merger. The points are worth more, you get lounge access PLUS priority boarding, free checked bags and first-class security line.

  • http://www.coldcallinginsider.com/ Frank R

    I haven’t been to the one at KLAS yet but have heard good things about it. Amex is scrambling to open more of these because both Amex and Centurion card holders are canceling en masse due to loss of the airline benefits – Delta is the only one left for Platinum lounge access and Centurion upgrades.

  • mcgrat07

    Totally agree. Priority Pass “Select” is completely useless in the US. On top of dropping US Air/American lounges, the airport lounge access from Platinum in the US is a joke. This has really impaired one of the membership selling points in my mind.

  • Roadcorreo

    MIA Priority Pass Lounge has some weird schedule. from Select Priority Pass members ( Amex Plat). they will NOT let you IN from 1:00 PM to 5:00PM if I remember.
    Also, PTY Panama, If they choose not to let you inn they will reject you. goes with the IBEREA flights I was told????
    So Basically It sucks.

Print This Page