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You know that awkward feeling when a couple you know is clearly about to break up, but nobody is talking about it? That’s the current vibe between American Express and the airport lounge service Priority Pass.

AmEx includes Priority Pass membership with their The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express cards. This membership offers access (when available) to hundreds of airport lounges around the world and supplements AmEx’s own collection of lounges, including their flagship Centurion Lounges.

However, some developments in recent months have shown a growing rift between AmEx and Priority Pass.

Most recently: AmEx relaunched their classic American Express® Green Card with a host of new features, including an annual $100 LoungeBuddy credit. Terms apply. LoungeBuddy is a competitor to Priority Pass that offers a la carte pricing instead of the latter’s unlimited-when-available model.

That might not sound like a relationship-ending event, but AmEx acquired LoungeBuddy in early 2019 — the first sign of trouble. Then they axed the highly valuable Priority Pass restaurant benefits for their Platinum cardholders.

Offering LoungeBuddy credits instead of Priority Pass membership makes a lot of sense for AmEx, since it lets them scale the lounge benefit to the cost of the card. That is, they can offer a mid-tier benefit like this $100 credit instead of full Priority Pass access. The question is if and when they’ll replace the Priority Pass benefit with a beefed-up LoungeBuddy perk for Platinum cardholders.

The bottom line

The LoungeBuddy acquisition was a big move from AmEx to stay competitive in the ruthless travel credit card market. This week we saw the first major result of this move, as they refreshed the American Express® Green Card with a $100 LoungeBuddy credit. Terms apply. The question is: How long can their relationship with Priority Pass last now that they are the competition?

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