I'm an Amex Platinum newbie — here's why lounge access is surprisingly my favorite perk
Welcome to the third installment of a year-long series where Tarah Chieffi, TPG’s family travel reporter, shares her experience using various points, benefits, credits and access from her first-ever premium rewards credit card, The Platinum Card from American Express.
- Is the Amex Platinum worth it for a points and miles newbie? I booked a trip to find out
- 8 tips from a newbie on maximizing the Amex Platinum’s benefits
Before applying for The Platinum Card® from American Express, my first premium travel card, my regular travel routine was to time my arrival at the airport to coincide as closely as possible with my flight’s boarding time. If I (speed) walked through security and pulled up to my gate at the exact time passengers were lining up to get on board, I felt I had done something right.
This led to a few close calls but only one missed flight to date.
If you ask me, looking for a seat at a crowded airport gate and then rubbing knees with a stranger while sipping a bitter, burned airport iced Americano would definitely be one of Dante’s nine circles of hell, had he written “The Divine Comedy” in the age of air travel.
But after being an Amex Platinum cardmember for nearly six months, things have changed.
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My flight doesn’t leave for more than two hours, yet here I am writing this story from a comfortable seat in the quiet Escape Lounge at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI). I’m eating a delicious hot lunch, charging my devices and drinking a refreshing iced Americano made by the bartender. It's like I've entered a whole new airport world.
This is actually my second airport lounge visit, with the first coming a few weeks ago when my family was returning home from Montego Bay, Jamaica.
On that trip, rather than wrangling the kids at the gate or trekking back and forth on the moving walkway to keep them occupied, we were able to play with toys, have drinks and snacks (and far too many cookies) at the Amex Centurion Lounge at Miami International Airport (MIA) before flying home.
It’s easy to see I’m quickly becoming an airport lounge convert, and not just because it serves as a comfy “home base” before or between flights. All those complimentary cookies, coffees and the occasional IPA are also saving me some major cash.
Before, if I arrived at the airport with enough time to spare, I would hit up Starbucks or another quick-service eatery for something to drink and a bite to eat. All of those breakfast sandwiches and bottled waters added up.
Related: Skip another line: Starbucks continues rollout of mobile ordering at US airports
The meal I’m eating right now of Caesar salad, curry turkey meatballs with carrot salad, and bacon and cheddar dip with pita chips would probably cost at least $15 at the airport. Throw in an IPA to wash it down and a fresh-baked snickerdoodle cookie for later and you’re looking at upwards of $20 for just one person. If I were traveling with my family, that price would be closer to $50 or $60. And sure, I could have packed our airport snacks and some water bottles from home, but let's be real — it's already enough work packing up our stuff, so that wasn't likely to magically start happening.
It can be tough to justify the Amex Platinum’s $695 annual fee (see rates and fees). Before applying, I even did the math to make sure I could recoup the cost of the annual fee by taking advantage of cash-like benefits like the annual $200 prepaid hotel booking credit, $240 digital entertainment credit and reimbursements for Clear Plus and Global Entry. Enrollment is required.
So while the value of those perks is obviously important to the card's overall value, what has surprised me the most is the money I'm saving on food for myself and my family during travel thanks to having the card.
I love a good IPA or fancy coffee, and often those are the first things on my mind when I reach a spot (usually the airport) where they are readily available. I’m willing to pay for a cup or a pint, but it is certainly nice that I now sometimes don’t have to with the Platinum card. Given how often we travel, I wouldn’t be surprised if the sheer amount of money I stand to save this year on caffeine alone covers half of my card’s annual fee.
But this is about so much more than my love for iced espresso drinks.
Let’s face it, air travel has become even more chaotic and stressful since the onset of the pandemic. Lounges help to make air travel a part of the journey rather than a means to an end.
Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access in 2022
I still prefer to minimize my time spent airside, so I'm not adding huge chunks of extra time at the airport just to enjoy the lounges, but when I have the time, it’s nice to have a cushioned seat, a hot meal and an ice-cold cup of coffee available to me when I arrive without shelling out some cash.
After all, getting there should be half the fun — and right now, I'm having more fun than ever at the airport.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.