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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.
More and more credit cards these days are offering some form of airport lounge benefit, often in the form of a Priority Pass Select membership. While most cards will allow you to bring in a couple of guests or your immediately family free of charge, there isn’t an easy way to transfer your membership to a spouse or family member if you’re traveling separately. TPG reader Chad wants to know what his best options are for sharing his newfound lounge access with his wife …
I recently opened the Amex Platinum card and my wife is looking to take advantage of the airport lounge benefits on her upcoming business trip. Should I add her as an authorized user on my account? Let her take my card and hope they don’t check the name too closely? Or simply open one up in her name? She was also targeted for the 100,000-point welcome offer.TPG READER CHAD
The normal welcome bonus on The Platinum Card® from American Express is 60,000 points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first three months. This is already a terrific offer, but if you’re targeted for a 100,000-point welcome offer, either directly through Amex or through the CardMatch Tool, it’s one of the best out there (offer subject to change at anytime). If Chad’s wife was lucky enough to be targeted for it, she should absolutely sign up for the card. Not only is that the easiest answer to this question of sharing lounge access; the welcome bonus will be a big boost of points (worth $2,000 based on TPG’s valuations) to jumpstart their next family vacation.
Chad had a few good ideas in his question, but let’s start with the not-so-great-one: He should absolutely not have his wife try to sneak into a lounge using his membership. While there’s a slim chance she gets lucky, there’s an even better chance that she’s denied access, and he as the account holder may even face repercussions down the road for this.
Adding his wife as an authorized user is a great way to guarantee his wife lounge access, though the drawback of this option is that it can get pricey. Here are the costs and associated lounge benefits for authorized users on a few popular premium travel rewards cards:
|Credit Card||Authorized User Fee||Authorized User Lounge Benefits|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||$175 for up to three additional cards (see Rates & Fees)||Priority Pass Select membership; access to Amex Centurion lounges; access to Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta)|
|Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard||Add up to 10 authorized users for free||American Airlines Admirals Club access, including two guests|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||$75||Priority Pass Select membership|
|Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express||$175 (see Rates & Fees)||Delta Sky Club access (when flying Delta)|
While the Amex Platinum isn’t the cheapest card when it comes to adding authorized users, it certainly offers the most benefits. The $175 fee is the same whether you add one user or three, so if you’re looking to share lounge access with multiple people, you can drop the per person cost to a manageable ~$60 a year.
Before spending this money though, there are a couple of other considerations Chad needs to make. First, how frequently do he and his wife travel separately? If it’s only once or twice a year, it might not be worth getting her own access. Second, are there even lounges in the airports she’ll be visiting? Priority Pass Select is a nice perk to have, but if her travels typically take her to or from airports like Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), Detroit (DTW) or others without any lounges or Priority Pass restaurants, it won’t do her much good.
Enjoying an airport lounge during a delay or long layover is a great way to make the airport experience more pleasant, but lounge benefits on top travel rewards credit cards typically apply only if the primary cardholder is traveling. Depending on how frequently Chad’s wife travels on her own, it might make sense for him to add her as an authorized user on his Platinum card. However, given that Chad’s wife was also targeted for the 100,000-point welcome bonus (offer subject to change at anytime) on the Platinum card, the best option is likely for her to apply for the card herself. That gives them at least a year to figure out a more permanent solution to this problem.
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