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Those who hold The Platinum Card® from American Express are accustomed to getting some pretty great benefits. Among them is access to the Centurion Lounge, American Express’ offering for travelers arriving at or departing from eight international cities. Terms apply.
But while more lounges are opening around the world, some will be closing their doors to certain cardholders. Starting on March 22, 2019, the Centurion Lounge will start trying to curb the influx of travelers heading through its doors.
What are the changes coming on March 22?
Still considered a prime benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Centurion Lounge offered one of the most permissive entry policies of all. Members are currently allowed to bring in up to two guests or immediate family and may enter prior to departure or upon arrival – whichever is more convenient.
But on March 22, 2019, cardmembers will be subject to some changes. Starting on that date, members will only be allowed to enter when they arrive “within three hours or less prior to their original scheduled departure time or can provide proof of a connecting flight.” Entering the Centurion Lounge upon arrival will no longer be allowed.
Who enters the lounge will also change. Children aged two or younger will not be counted as one of the two allowed guests if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian who can provide a “lap infant” boarding pass or proof of age.
These changes will only affect individuals who have The Platinum Card® from American Express. Those who have the highest card available, The Centurion Card from American Express, will be unaffected by the changes.
» Learn More: How to find the best travel insurance
Why is American Express making these changes?
With the continued popularity of the Centurion Lounge experience, crowding at the lounge has become a major problem. Previous attempts to limit the number of patrons in lounges included ending the $50 pass for non-cardholders and restricting access during peak traffic hours.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the company explained: “As our Centurion Lounges continue to be one of our Card Members’ favorite travel benefits, we are updating our Centurion Lounge access policies to ensure that we continue to provide our Card Members with a relaxing and spacious environment to visit before they head out on their travel journeys.”
The application of this policy follows reports that other Centurion Lounges issued similar local plans to prevent overcrowding at peak times. During those situations, cardholders were redirected to Delta Air Lines’ Sky Club lounges (if they were flying aboard Delta) or lounges available through their Priority Pass benefits.
Bottom line: Is it a devaluation for cardholders?
The new policy is an inconvenience for cardholders, especially when the annual fee has risen to $550. For international travelers, access to the Centurion Lounge upon arrival provided a great opportunity to get revived after a long flight. Without that ability to visit after customs unless they are connecting to another flight, travelers lose another great benefit. But, if you have a Centurion Lounge at your home airport or those you fly to the most, the card can still offer some value prior to departure.
Before deciding on any credit card, travelers must be able to get the full value out of their annual fee. If the new restrictions on the Centurion Lounge cause you to lose some value of the $550 you pay every year, then it may be time to reconsider your travel credit cards.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Everything you need to know about AmEx Centurion Lounges NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards How to get started with frequent flyer programs