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How Families Can Manage the Coming Sapphire Reserve Lounge Guest Limit

May 07, 2018
5 min read
How Families Can Manage the Coming Sapphire Reserve Lounge Guest Limit
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Over the weekend, the news broke that some of the Chase Sapphire Reserve's benefits will likely be changing as the card approaches its second birthday towards the end of the summer. The changes are not good news, but as they say, it could always be worse.

Sapphire Reserve placing limits on lounge guests

Unfortunately for families, one of the changes on the horizon will place the Sapphire Reserve on the long list of credit cards that caps complimentary Priority Pass Select lounge guests at a maximum of two people. After the two included guests, there will be a $27 fee per guest, per visit. For a family of five, this would mean $54 in guest fees each time your whole family entered a Priority Pass lounge, unless that lounge happened to permit children under a certain age for free (a few do, but certainly not all).

Of course, there are families of three out there, but there are a whole lot of families of more than three people that increasingly can't get into airport lounges without paying additional fees...or utilizing some additional strategy.

Strategies to get your whole family in the lounge without additional fees

The information I've seen points towards a late August 2018 implementation date for the Sapphire Reserve's new Priority Pass Select two complimentary guests limit, so you have time to adjust your strategy now to ensure that your family of four or more can still enjoy the Priority Pass lounges after August.

The first thing to do if this change will negatively impact you is to look at what other cards you have in your family that already grant Priority Pass access or membership. Lots and lots of premium rewards cards have some level of included Priority Pass access, so you may already be covered by leveraging the access from two different cards. As a few examples, The Platinum Card® from American Express allows you to bring in two complimentary guests with your Priority Pass Select membership, the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express gets you ten included Priority Pass visits each year, and the US Bank Altitude Reserve Infinite card provides four included Priority Pass visits per year.

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Perhaps best of all for larger families, Citi Prestige cardholders are granted complimentary Priority Pass Select lounge access for two guests or all immediate family members, which includes your spouse, domestic partner, and/or children under 18 years of age.

Frankly, the Citi Prestige's approach seems like the best solution for families as it controls for bringing in unlimited 'friends', but it doesn't make you decide which kid you like the best on any given day. I wish the Sapphire Reserve would have gone that direction with allowing immediate family members in to the lounges at no additional fee, but since it seems they are not, it is time to see which other cards you or your partner may hold that can cover additional guests.

Add a Sapphire Reserve authorized user for additional lounge access

If you don't currently have another credit card with included Priority Pass access, and you don't want to pick another credit card up right now, you could add your partner or a child as an authorized user on your Sapphire Reserve. This will cost you $75 per year for the authorized user, but it will enable your authorized user to have their own Priority Pass Select membership where they can bring in their own two guests to the lounges. This would be a sufficient strategy for a family of up to six people since each Priority Pass Select member could bring in their own two guests for a total of six persons. If your family is larger than six and you want everyone to have included lounge access, you will need to tack on another authorized user each year at another $75 fee.

If you need multiple authorized user cards for the purpose of lounge access, I would consider the Amex Platinum Card which provides up to three authorized user cards that are each eligible for their own Priority Pass Select membership for a total of $175 per year. These authorized users on the Amex Platinum can not only get Priority Pass Select membership, but they can also get into the Amex Centurion Lounge network with up to two guests of their own. This is how my family manages to have enough lounge access slots for everyone as I am an authorized user on Josh's Amex Platinum, as is my mom and his dad. We then each get two guests for lounge visits, providing us more than enough coverage.

If you don't want to add an authorized user to your Chase Sapphire Reserve account, your partner or traveling companion could apply for their own Chase Sapphire Reserve outright and then get 50,000 bonus Ultimate Reward points after meeting the spending requirement of $4,000 in the first three months. They would then have to pay the $450 annual fee that comes with that card, but they'd be eligible for their own $300 annual travel credit, Global Entry/PreCheck application credit, and of course their own Priority Pass Select Membership.

How would a change to having just two included guests on the Sapphire Reserve's Priority Pass Select membership impact your family's airport lounge strategy?