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Back in December, American Express announced that Platinum, Business Platinum and Mercedes-Benz Platinum cardholders would no longer get access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs or US Airways Clubs as of March 22, 2014 – which means today is the last day for all us Platinum cardmembers to crash those lounges using our card benefits, so if your plans have you flying today, I’d suggest heading to an AA or US lounge and living it up.
While this is definitely a big blow to the Platinum cards, I do think the cards’ annual fees of $450-$475 are still worth it, and Amex is trying to make it up to cardholders both by giving them access to its new Centurion lounges and adding new perks like Boingo WiFi memberships, and by handing out various forms of compensation. Readers have reported asking for and receiving airline rebates in addition to the $200 annual one that automatically comes with the cards with some folks getting targeted offers of up to $500 to offset club membership fees, while I personally received a $100 airline reimbursement credit and 25,000 bonus Amex points. So if you haven’t called up the customer service number on the back of your Platinum card yet, I’d do so soon to voice your displeasure at the ending of the AA/US lounge benefit, and see what American Express will offer you. It never hurts to ask!
Beyond short-term compensation, though, there are still ways to get lounge access. First off, the Platinum cards are still retaining the benefit of Priority Pass Select membership, so cardholders still get access to over 600 lounges worldwide. That membership gets the cardholder into Priority Pass lounges for free, but each additional guest costs $27.
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 last 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.
You also normally receive club access when you book a paid or award ticket for premium (first or business class) international travel or transcontinental travel on certain airlines. For more information, check out How to Get Free or Discounted Airline Lounge Access.
Also remember that when you buy/renew US Airways Club membership (which also entitles you to Admirals Club access) now through May 31, you can get an additional 5,000 Preferred-qualifying miles, so that’s something to consider. Especially since buying US Airways Club membership now includes Admirals Club membership as well – so you’re getting two for the price of one – and though memberships start at $450, if you’re Platinum/Gold/Silver elite, it’s $375 and Chairman’s Preferred members get it for $325, so you could always call Amex and ask them for a statement credit or airline rebate to apply toward the membership fee.
Other Credit Cards
There are a few other credit cards out there at the moment that also offer airline-specific club membership.
Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard
Current Bonus: 100,000 miles with $10,000 spend in 3 months
Benefits: Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1 mile per $1 on everything else. Admirals Club membership privileges; 10,000 elite miles when you spend $40,000 on eligible within a calendar year; your first eligible checked bag is free, priority boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases; SmartChip technology; no foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $450
For more, see my post on the offer.
Type: Personal or Business
Current Bonus: 10,000 Medallion qualifying miles and 10,000 bonus miles with the first purchase.
Category Spending Bonuses: 2X miles per $1 on Delta purchases, 1X miles on everything else.
Perks: Delta SkyClub access, up to 30,000 MQM’s per calendar year with spend (15,000 at $30,000 and another 15,000 at $60,000). Free checked bag for you and up to 8 people on your reservation, Priority Boarding and 20% In-Flight Savings. On the business version, save 3% to 10% automatically on business expenses from FedEx, Hertz, OfficeMax, and more with OPEN Savings, annual Reserve Companion Certificate for first/business (or economy) travel within the 48 contiguous United States.
Annual Fee: $450
United MileagePlus Club Card
Sign-up Bonus: $100 statement credit after first purchase.
Benefits: 2 miles per $1 on United purchases, 1.5 United miles on all other purchases. First and second checked bags free, no foreign transaction fees, Hyatt Platinum status, priority check in, security, boarding and baggage as if you were an elite flyer, United Club access, no close-in booking fees on award tickets saving you $75 per booking.
Annual Fee: $395, but there are also reports that if you walk into a Chase branch, they are giving customers offers where the $395 annual fee is waived the first year.
While these annual fees are significant, if you were considering buying membership in one of these clubs anyway, you’re pretty much offsetting the cost of membership and getting other valuable perks like priority access, free checked bags for you and travel companions, modest sign-up miles bonuses and miles-earning potential for your everyday purchases (including Elite Miles with the Delta and American cards). For more information, see The Best Current Airline Credit Card Offers.
So while March 22, 2014 is bound to be an unhappy day for many Platinum cardholders, it’s not the end of the world. The loss of AA/US lounge access does change the calculus of the cards’ value, but the cards still offer quite a few other valuable benefits like $200 airline rebates and Global Entry application fee refunds, and there are several other cards out there offering lounge access to specific airlines.
Now that the end draws nigh for the Platinum Card’s AA/US lounge access benefits, what are your plans?