The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best credit card for lounge access, at least in my opinion. The card comes with a hefty $550 annual fee but comes with plenty of perks and value to justify the fee. Considering the 60,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus (sometimes even higher), the $200 travel credit, the $200 Uber credit, hotel elite status benefits, the lounge access offered by this card is a pretty amazing deal (assuming you make use of it, of course). Here’s what you need to know about lounge access with the Platinum Card.
One great thing about the Platinum Card is that authorized users are given full access to these lounges just as the primary cardmember is. You can add up to 3 authorized users for $175, so this can be a great way to receive a lot of value if you’ve got friends or family that you trust and want to offer these perks to.
Centurion Lounge access
Amex Centurion Lounges are among the nicest lounges in the US. They are nicely designed lounges with free wifi, hot food, and drinks including alcohol. Many have showers and some of the lounges, like at MIA and DFW, offer enhanced amenities such as spa facilities. Each Centurion lounge makes their own specialty cocktails and they are often very good (and strong). The food can be a bit hit or miss at times but it’s generally better than the finger foods/snacks you find at many other lounges.
You must bring your Platinum Card with you to gain access to the Centurion Lounge (along with your same-day boarding pass). You are allowed to bring in two guests, regardless of familial status. You used to be able to bring in unlimited immediate family members but, to the dismay of many, American Express changed that policy to only allow two complimentary guests total. If you want to bring in an additional cost, it will cost you a pretty penny at $50 per person.
Although I love Centurion Lounges, there are two drawbacks to Centurion Lounges.
The first is that they can get very crowded, especially during peak business traveler times. This can make finding a place to rest and enjoy a meal or drink virtually impossible. Sometimes these crowds are so bad you don’t even want to step foot inside the lounge. However, in mornings, early afternoons, and evenings, I found the crowds to be much more manageable.
The second drawback is that they are only located in select airports. Here are the locations and hours:
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (Terminal D, opposite Gate D17 on the mezzanine), 5:30 am – 10 pm
- IAH/Intercontinental Houston Airport (Terminal D, access via elevators near Gate D6) 5:30 am – 9 pm
- Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (Concourse D, opposite Gate D1), 5 am – 11 pm
- Miami International Airport (Concourse D, near Gate D12), 5 am – 11 pm
- New York’s LaGuardia Airport (Terminal B, pre-security, on the upper level), Sunday – Friday 5:30 am – 8 pm, Saturday 5:30 am – 6:30 pm
- Philadelphia (coming soon)
- San Francisco International Airport (Terminal 3, near Gate 74), 5 am – 11 pm
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Concourse B, opposite Gate B3), 5 am – 10 pm
Overall, I think that if you frequent or even semi-frequent an airport with a Centurion Lounge, the experience can make worth holding on to the Platinum Card, considering all of the other benefits too.
You’ll also find Centurion Lounges across the globe.
- Buenos Aires (EZE)
- Delhi (DEL)
- Hong Kong (HKG) Coming soon
- Mexico City (MEX), Monterrey (MTY), Toluca (TLC)
- Mumbai (BOM)
- São Paulo (GRU)
- Sydney (SYD)
The quality and amenities offered by these lounges may vary. For example, some are smaller than US Centurion Lounges and may require you to pay for certain food or drink items, but they generally appear to be of decent quality and thus often worth a visit, assuming you don’t have access to a superior lounge.
The other major lounge benefit with the Platinum Card is that you get Priority Pass, which is a $400 a year pass that comes complimentary with the Platinum Card. This pass gets you access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide. One thing you must remember, is that you have to register for your Priority Pass either online or by calling in. Otherwise, you won’t receive a card and won’t be able to access these lounges.
The guest policy for the Platinum Card’s priority pass was also recently updated, so now you can bring in two guests for free (as opposed to before when you were only allowed one guest).
You must have your Priority Pass card with you when you to gain entrance into the lounge. There’s also a Priority Pass app so you can show them your “e-card” but note that not all Priority Pass lounges are able to scan these so it’s best to keep your card on you.
The quality of these lounges vary dramatically. Generally, I’ve found that the Priority Pass lounges within the US are not very great and can also have crowding issues or access restrictions where you’re not even allowed in.
Internationally, however, some of these lounges can be fantastic. If you’re planning any kind of long trip around the globe, having access to these lounges can be invaluable.
Priority Pass can also get you access into other VIP-like perks. For example, when flying into MBJ in Jamaica, your Priority Pass gets you into the expedited line for security (as well as the VIP lounge, which is quite nice especially for Caribbean standards).
Delta Sky Clubs
To gain access to Delta Sky Clubs, you must be flying with Delta on that day. Unfortunately, guests are not complimentary and you’ll have to shell out $29 for each guest to come in to the lounge with you. The good thing about the Platinum Card is once again, authorized users are given this perk, too, so if your travel partner has a Platinum Card they can get in for free, too.
Delta SkyClubs are pretty solid lounges compared to other what other domestic carriers offer and you should be able to get free drinks and snacks.
The Platinum Card also offers access to Airspace lounges. There are currently only three of these lounges and they are found in New York (JFK), Cleveland, and San Diego. The lounges offer basic snacks and drinks but as a Platinum cardmember, you’ll be given a $10 credit that you can use towards food and drinks, so that’s something.
As one of the recent upgrades to the Platinum Card, it now offers access to Escape Lounges, too.
There are currently three Escape Lounges in the US and they can be found at Bradley International Airport (BDL) (which is near Hartford, Connecticut), Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and Oakland International Airport (OAK). (There are also a few in the UK at London Stansted, Manchester, and East Midlands.
Entry to some of these would cost your $40-45 to enter these lounges so these were nice additions to the Platinum’s lounge network.
The BDL and MSP lounges were part of the Priority Pass network but MSP was recently dropped, so now you would gain access to that lounge by your Platinum Card instead of Priority Pass. These lounges are generally regarded as quality lounges, although you have to pay for certain premium items.
“Hidden” lounge benefits
I’m always surprised how many cardholders aren’t even aware of the many hidden benefits of the Platinum Card. Beyond the lounge networks above, there are actually several other lounges where you can get access with your Platinum Card. Just keep in mind that these less-advertised perks may be subject to change since they are not highly publicized.
These lounges, per Doctor of Credit, include:
- Eurostar Business Premier Lounges (London St. Pancras, Paris Gare du Nord, Brussels Midi/Zuid, and Ebbsfleet International.
- Virgin Australia lounge access when flying Virgin Australia
- Centurion Suite at the Barclays Center (open for sporting and entertainment events)
- Centurion Suite at the Staples Center (open for sporting events — no complimentary food or drinks)
- Universal Studios lounges (Orlando and Hollywood)
I think that the Platinum Card is probably the best card for lounge access. While other cards like the Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige offer Priority Pass, the Platinum Card goes beyond that with its quality Centurion Lounges and other lounges located throughout the US and the world. So while the value of lounge access comes down to use, I think these lounge benefits provide me with more than enough value to hang on to the Platinum Card even with its high annual fee.