Confirmed: Amex to start charging $50 for most Centurion Lounge guests

Apr 8, 2021

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Editor’s note: This piece has been updated with a statement from Amex. 

There’s big news today from American Express.

Late last night, the issuer quietly updated its terms and conditions to state that it would clamp down on its Centurion Lounge guest policy and that most cardmembers would no longer be allowed to bring in two friends or family members for free.

For a few nighttime hours, the terms and conditions indicated that beginning on Feb. 1, 2023, all Centurion Lounge guests that came in with a cardholder would be charged at a rate of $50 each. The terms said this would apply to anyone entering the lounge along with a primary or authorized user of the Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Complimentary guest access could be unlocked by making $75,000 or more in purchases during a calendar year on a Platinum account, including on charges made by authorized users.

However, as quickly and quietly as the American Express terms indicated this coming major change, it reverted them back to the original version, leaving us to wonder if this was a confirmed change.

Now we know — this change is indeed coming. Here’s what we learned.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Related: The ultimate guide to American Express Centurion Lounges

American Express has confirmed the changes to TPG with the following statement.

“The Centurion Lounge is one of the most popular benefits of the Platinum Card. We want to make sure we continue to back our Card Members when they travel by delivering a comfortable space for our Card Members to recharge and relax, which is why we are making some changes to our Centurion Lounge guest access policy,” said the card issuer.

Amex went on to confirm that, ” There is no spend threshold required for complimentary Centurion Lounge guest access for Corporate Platinum Card and Centurion Members.”

To qualify for free guest access on the Platinum cards come Feb. 1, 2023, you’ll need to hit the $75,000 threshold between Jan. 1, 2022, and Dec. 31, 2022. Complimentary guest access is usually be processed within seven days of meeting the purchase requirement, though it may take up to 12 weeks to become effective.

Once you hit the requirement, free guests would be unlocked through Jan. 31, two years following the date you hit $75,000 in purchases.

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For many, this is unfortunate news to go along with shelling out $550 each year for the Platinum card (see rates & fees). However, some deep-pocketed or solo travelers may be thrilled by a reduction in lounge guests. By cutting free guests, Amex is seemingly working to reduce overcrowding.

In the years leading up to the pandemic, overcrowding became one of the biggest complaints with Centurion Lounges. Even now, after a six-month pandemic-related closure, select locations are again operating at capacity, with many cardmembers being asked to join a waitlist for entry.

An overcrowded San Francisco Centurion Lounge before the pandemic (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Now that we’ve confirmed these changes are indeed coming, a potential solution will be to consider adding authorized users to your Platinum card. In the terms listed above, authorized users won’t be subject to the $50 per-visit guest fee. You currently can add up to three Platinum authorized-user cards to your primary personal Platinum account for a total fee of $175 per year (see rates and fees).

Children younger than 13 can’t be added as authorized users, so this is a noticeable devaluation for families who’ll now need to shell out $50 to bring their young kids into the lounges, some of which have dedicated family rooms.

Related: Is the Amex Platinum worth the annual fee?

Another alternative that Amex could consider is expanding the Platinum card’s $200 airline fee credit to cover up to four guesting charges at the Centurion Lounge. It’s possible the terms indicating this guest benefit change could be just a part of a larger overhaul of this iconic premium credit card.

Under these terms, Amex is providing cardholders just shy of two years’ notice on the coming changes.

The new Centurion Lounge guesting policy comes as Amex is working hard to expand and renovate its existing network of 14 outposts. New locations are planned for London Heathrow (LHR) and Washington National (DCA), and expansions are underway in New York LaGuardia (LGA), Las Vegas (LAS), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA).

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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

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