If you have an American Express card that comes with a Priority Pass lounge membership, brace yourself for some bad news: AmEx is cutting a benefit that traditionally gave you valuable credits at certain airport restaurants and bars. You’ll still be able to use the Priority Pass network lounges, but the non-lounge experiences that came with the cards — namely, credits you could apply toward your tab at specific restaurants — are going away.
The affected cards are The Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express Centurion, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. The change kicks in on Aug. 1, 2019.
The part of the perk that’s going away isn’t widely understood. The Priority Pass lounge network offers members access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across the globe. In addition to lounges, Priority Pass offers members a dining credit at designated airport restaurants. For example, at Boston Logan Airport, Priority Pass members can get $28 off the bill at Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill plus $28 off for a registered guest. At The Cafe by Mise en Place at Tampa International Airport, same deal: $28 off food and drinks for the member, $28 off for a registered guest. This dining credit is the part of the Priority Pass program that will no longer be available to American Express cardholders.
Access to the lounges themselves will remain the same for these AmEx cardholders. But this perk is better for some than for others. That’s because not every terminal at every airport has a lounge that participates in the Priority Pass program. Check the Priority Pass website to see if the terminals you use most have participating lounges.
To gain access to one of these lounges, you must first activate your membership by registering through your credit card provider. A Priority Pass Membership card will be sent to you in the mail. Then, when you arrive at the airport lounge, you have to show your Priority Pass membership card as well as your boarding pass that proves you’ll be traveling that same day. If you want your travel companion to enjoy the same privileges, you’ll have to indicate that you have a guest when you enter the lounge. Depending on your credit card issuer and number of guests, you may be charged an additional fee.
A number of the lounges you can access with Priority Pass are actually airline lounges that have contracted with Priority Pass to offer you admission. For example, at Los Angeles International Airport, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Terminal 2 and the Alaska Airlines lounge in Terminal 6 are open to Priority Pass members who supply their credentials.
For Priority Pass members through other sources, including holders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Citi Prestige® Card credit cards, there’s no indication of any changes to the perk at this time.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Credit cards that offer airport lounge access
NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards
5 reasons you should be using airport lounges