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My family has an Amex Platinum card, and have enjoyed several perks from it (in addition to the sign-up bonus points). Some of these perks include the $200 annual airline fee credit, complimentary access to the new Centurion Lounges, and more. However, from the time we got the card last year to now, there are several travel related perks that have worsened. Just today, it happened again. So, I have several updates on this card, and figured I would put them all in this one post. I’ll start with the (mostly) good news.
$200 Travel Fee Reimbursement on United:
Each year this card comes with a $200 credit toward airline fees such as checked bags, lounge access, on-board snacks, change fees, etc. You must select one airline to have the $200 annual credit with, and I described this process here. We choose United for the year, and I had some United gift cards to purchase. Historically those have “off label” counted toward the $200 annual airline credit. I had read reports on this Flyertalk thread that success with that process was becoming mixed. I needed to buy a $50 and $100 gift certificate anyway, and used this card. Just as a data point, I want to report that a week later the $50 gift certificate was reimbursed as part of the airline fee credit, but the $100 certificate was not. This is pretty consistent with reports on the linked thread, but do note that United gift registry purchases are having a higher success rate. I’ll report back on that soon, as I had one of those to purchase today as well. So, that is partial good news I suppose, but I’ll take it.
Credit to Help Offset the Loss of US and American Lounges Effective March 22nd:
We learned in late 2013 that as of March 22, 2014 the Platinum card will no longer get you access to US Airways and American Airlines lounges. Some people were reporting getting credits of up to $500 to use toward fees from US Airways and American once lounge access is lost. Anecdotally, those getting the largest offers were ones who frequently used those lounge benefits, which makes sense. We have yet to access a US or AA lounge using this particular Platinum card, and our credit offer was zero, even after asking expressing our disappointment. We do actually plan to use the AA lounge access in the near future, and had just ordered an authorized user card for my in-laws knowing that they do frequent AA lounges. So, on paper we weren’t losing anything I guess as we had never used the perk, but in practice we were about to use it much more in the future (or at least our authorized users were), so the change did hurt us.
I asked again today (via secure chat) for a credit to offset the loss of these lounges and was told that they would enroll the account for a $100 credit toward fee charges from US Airways and American Airlines (such as for lounge day passes, but not limited to that) that would be valid from March 22, 2014 – December 31, 2014. That isn’t a ton, but it is a ton more than zero. If you were told no in the past for a credit to help offset this loss, it might be worth another try.
Delta Lounges to Start Charging for Guests (including family members):
The bad news from today is that Delta, as it relates to the Platinum card, is that effective May 1, 2014, American Express Platinum holders will no longer be able to bring free guests or family members into the Delta lounges. They will be able to bring two guests, or their immediate family, for a fee of $29 per person. Yes, technically that includes having to pay for young children. Some say hip-hip-hurray there will be fewer families clogging up the lounges. I’m sure this will get rid of a few families, but my travels show that the overwhelming majority of people in lounges appear to be on business travel. In fact, I get excited when I see another family in the lounge because it isn’t an overly common occurrence in my experience. Aside from during peak holiday travel times perhaps, families are not why lounges are crowded.
The Platinum cardholder still gets in free to the Delta lounges, so if you have the card, and your spouse is already an authorized user with their own card, then presumably you can both get in for free via that route. If you had children 15+ you can theoretically get authorized user cards for them as well. The fee for authorized users on the Platinum card is $175 for up to three authorized users per year. Not necessarily worth it in all cases, but it could be depending on your situation.
Time will tell how American Express responds to yet another kick to their lounge benefits. They are building more Centurion Lounges, which are far superior to the lounges they are losing, but they may not be building enough locations at a fast enough pace to meet the needs of cardholders who like to utilize lounges on their regular travels. For those not familiar, there are Centurion lounges currently open in Las Vegas and DFW, with forthcoming locations announced in San Francisco and LaGuardia. It has been hinted at that an “entire network” of Centurion lounges are coming, but no additional locations have been confirmed to my knowledge.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of these recent developments as they relate to the Platinum cards.