Writer Mistake Story: Forgetting to Renew My Priority Pass Membership

May 17, 2018

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Here at TPG we find that it’s helpful to share reader mistake stories. From arriving too early, to arriving too late, to letting valuable perks expire without being used, we’ve all made our fair share of unforced errors that have cost us time or money instead of making our lives easier. We hope that by sharing these stories, we can all learn a little something and prevent others from making these same mistakes in the future.

But that doesn’t mean it’s only readers who make mistakes. Even members of the TPG team — despite the millions of miles we’ve collectively flown — drop the ball from time to time. So today, we bring you a writer mistake story from a highly knowledgable writer who should definitely know better: namely, me. There’s no other way to say it. And to make matters worse, the situation was entirely preventable.

A Short Layover in China

Let’s back up for a moment and set the scene. As we’ve written about many times, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is an incredibly well-rounded credit card, with benefits that include 3x points on travel and dining, a $300 travel credit and many others. One of my favorite CSR perks is the Priority Pass Select membership that gets me free airport lounge access all over the world.

First Class Lounge (No. 69) at Shanghai Pudong (PVG) airport. Photo courtesy of Priority Pass.
First Class Lounge (No. 69) at Shanghai Pudong (PVG) airport. Photo courtesy of Priority Pass.

But on a recent trip to Shanghai, I was denied entry when I tried to use my Priority Pass card to get into a lounge at Pudong Airport (PVG). Unfortunately I hadn’t noticed that my Priority Pass membership had expired two weeks before — exactly one year after I activated it. I’d also been too lazy to activate the digital version of my Priority Pass card because I always carry the physical one in my wallet, and therefore didn’t see any need.

I called Chase right away to ask if there was anything I could do, but the representative informed me that I was out of luck. Oh well, not a big deal. I only had 40 minutes until my flight boarded, so I grabbed a seat by the gate to wait it out.

Fast Forward to…

I had about two weeks back in the US before I left for my next trip — a quick four days in Israel with a decent layover in Amman (AMM) on either end. The morning before my flight, there was still one thing on my packing list I hadn’t done yet: renew my Priority Pass membership.

But when I called Chase, I was told it would take at least three days to get a physical card to me. Uh oh. I knew I could set up a digital card if I had my Priority Pass account number and new expiration date, but Priority Pass told me that Chase manages the program and they have no way to see my account number, only if the account is active.

Without a valid physical card with an expiration date, there was no way I could set up a digital card and no way for me to access either of the two lounges in Amman.

At least I had some pretty views to help pass the time! (Photo by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy)

Salt in the Wound

In desperate need of a shower after a 12-hour flight from Chicago (ORD), I stopped by one of the Amman lounges to see if I could at least buy a day pass. The pass cost 30 JRD (~$42), but it was only after charging my Chase Sapphire Reserve that the lounge attendant checked my boarding pass and informed me that he couldn’t let me into the lounge until three hours before my flight. I was staring a 7-hour layover in the face and not happy about it, so I got a refund, left the lounge with what little dignity I had left and spent the rest of the evening camped out in a Starbucks to pass the time.

Bottom Line

Many credit cards now come with a complimentary Priority Pass membership, but if you have one, make sure you’re aware of your anniversary date so you can reactivate your Priority Pass membership when needed. As soon as I get home and get my physical card in the mail, I’m setting a reminder to renew next year, so I don’t make this same mistake twice!

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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